Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Paul's Take

SAM blogger Paul Bryce gave his take on last week's Iraq debate in the Senate. He emailed it to me, but hasn't posted it yet, so I'll do the honors:

Early Wednesday morning, joining the millions of other Americans glued to their televisions, I checked in on C-SPAN2's coverage of the all night Senate Debate over the Iraq War. When I tuned in, the Junior Senator from Iowa, Tom Harkin, was finishing up, pleading to his Republican counterparts to allow an up and down vote on the Levin-Reed amendment (to reinforce his point, there was a massive "Let Us Vote" sign over his left shoulder). Following Harkin was John Thune, a Republican Senator from South Dakota. He made some statements that I found noteworthy (I apologize for not having direct quotes; I haven't yet found a transcript of the debate)...

For one, he was incredulous to notion that the Democrats would make a distinction between the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. He said somehow the Democrats have this idea that Afghanistan is a good war and Iraq a bad war. This he reasoned was simply a matter of casualties. We have more troops in Iraq and thus more casualties there. If the opposite were true, the war in Afghanistan would be receiving the same criticisms as Iraq. After all, we face the same enemy in both wars—Al Qaeda.

I hate to break it to the Senator, but all wars are not created equal. And this is what Senator Thune (and many other Republicans) fails to grasp. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not the same. When the United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, it was a direct response to the attacks of September 11 th. We have targeted the Taliban and Al Qaeda the entire time. The war in Iraq, however, was an aggressive act on our part that has morphed from WMDs to liberating the Iraqi people to fighting Al Qaeda there so we don't have to fight them here (even though they are there because we are there). Casualties are not the issue. Americans will accept casualties so long as they are for what we deem a just cause (WWII vs. Vietnam).

The reality is our actions in Iraq have caused us to, in a sense, run in place in the fight against terrorism. The war in Afghanistan was designed to rid Al Qaeda of a place from which to launch attacks against America. To this point we have enjoyed a level of success, although the combination of Pakistan and Iraq has served to limit this success. The Iraqi War, by comparison, has done just the opposite. It has created a new haven for terrorists. In fact, this week, a National Intelligence Estimate warned "that al-Qa'ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), it's most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland."

So in a way, Senator Thune is right. We are fighting the same enemy, Al Qaeda, in both Afghanistan and Iraq. It is just that we are doing so for very different reasons.

A couple other notes from Senator Thune's speech:
· He read a letter from a Marine serving in Iraq who was asking for an opportunity to finish the mission. He then suggested this was the position of the military as a whole, while providing no factual basis. Senator Webb, whose son is a Marine serving in Iraq, sought to challenge this suggestion by asking the Senator if he believed the members of military were as diverse in their views as the rest of America. Thune dodged the question by saying he couldn't possibly guess the political persuasions of the entire military (apparently he reserves that solely for their standings on the war).
· Senator Thune accused the Democrats of attempting to use the war for political gain. Of course they have. Just like Republicans have (remember the whole "if you're against the war, you're against our troops" thing) and just like the next politician will use the next issue for their own political purposes.


byrd said...

I don't care where we fight al qaeda so long as it's not in NYC or Boston or Southbend or Austin.

Remember: there have not been any terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11 and we have been fighting in Iraq since 2003. perhaps Iraq has distracted the bad guys by taking the fight to their territory?

Kris said...

Yeah, and we only had to kill how many innocent Iraqi's, overthrow a torturous yet stable sovereign state (that was NOT theocratic), and suffer all those pesky American casualties. How many people do you think would have died if we put a couple billion dollars into securing our borders? An ounce of prevention...