07/18/07 — All-nighter: Senators’ marathon session more about show than unity

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All-nighter: Senators’ marathon session more about show than unity

Talk about posing for the cameras. All those who watched the pageantry and posturing that went along with the marathon session in the U.S. Senate Tuesday should know by now that this is less about an agreement and more about grabbing headlines.

The debate on the war in Iraq is no different from those that have come before — and not much has changed on either side, either.

The truth is that everyone in that chamber Tuesday wants the troops to come home safely. There is no argument about that. What they disagree on is how to make that happen and when.

There is reason to think about changing course in Iraq. That is the nature of a war plan. It has to be adjusted as the mission changes.

But to think that even if the Democratic majority gets its way the troops will come home immediately is absurd. Even they admit there is more work to be done.

There is a need to apply more pressure on the Iraqi government. The United States cannot continue to provide security for the fledgling democracy. They will have to figure that out for themselves.

But we are not just there for that.

American troops are in the region to maintain stability and to keep a tenuous peace from becoming nothing more than a memory.

Peace that is not maintained is fertile recruiting ground for new terrorists — whose parent organization, al-Qaida, announced this week that it has its sights set on another American attack.

That is what we are there for — to make sure this battle stays in the Middle East and does not ever come back to the shores of the U.S. We are there to prevent another 9/11.

Even if this nation changes course in Iraq, there will be al-Qaida to defeat in Afghanistan. There is a great deal of work to be done — and a great deal of future security to consider before jumping on the pull-out date bandwagon.

Those who say they want an end to the war but not now know that there is more at stake than just the Iraqi mission. And that is why some of them are refusing to take any part in the debate over war powers. They know it is dangerous to play politics with a military operation.

The debate isn’t over — and neither are the protests. We will continue to see posturing and pontificating like we did this morning. But as we do, we need to think harder about what the real solutions and consequences are in this battle at home and abroad. Then, we can set a real and lasting policy.

Published in Editorials on July 18, 2007 12:55 PM