11/04/05 — War and politics: Questions seem aimed at angling for advantage

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War and politics: Questions seem aimed at angling for advantage

With all the squabbling over Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and what he did and didn’t know and whom he told what he did, the CIA operative scandal has promoted more questions about the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq.

And while there is still nothing wrong with looking critically at the decision-making that led to the decision to attack Iraq, once again political maneuvering seems to be obscuring the real reason there is a need for the United States to be active in the Middle East.

This was not an imperialistic effort to conquer another culture. Nor was it a chance for the United States to show off its military might. And, despite what some people say, it couldn’t possibly have been a reason to win an election or to shore up a political position.

A little more than four years ago, a group of men with ties to a Muslim extremist and terrorist organizations got on planes and sent two of them careening into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and tried to take another to Washington, D.C., to do even more damage.

They were not responding to a U.S.-led attack. They were not even fighting back against persecution at the hands of American policymakers. And despite what some people think, they did not just get together a couple days before Sept. 11 and decide to teach Americans a lesson. They spent years studying, training at our airports and preparing themselves for what some of them saw as a battle in a holy war. They killed more than 3,000 innocent Americans to let this country know they could and because they hate us and everything that we stand for as a nation.

What makes thinking back to Sept. 11 so hard is wondering what we could have done differently.

The hijackers succeeded Sept. 11, 2001, because we were not ready for them.

Now, we are. And that is mostly because we aren’t waiting for the terrorist organizations to let us know where they are working and whom they are recruiting. We are out looking for them, destroying their bunkers and attacking their allies.

And in the process, our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have freed a country from a murderous and corrupt tyrant.

There is a good argument for stepping back now and examing what our next job should be in Iraq, and whether it is time for us to leave. But there has been enough political juggling of the “why are we there” ball.

We are there to make sure a future generation does not have to mourn the loss of thousands of innocent Americans because we weren’t ready again.

Published in Editorials on November 4, 2005 7:51 AM