Iraq: An ongoing security issue

Published 11:15 am Monday, October 9, 2006

By By Tray Smith
In advance of next month's Congressional elections, I have analyzed the fitness of each political party to lead our nation's Congress. But no issue is more important in determining an organization's governing competence than national security, because if the government cannot secure our freedoms, nothing else matters.
Today, we live in a world where we face new enemies that represent new challenges, and adapting to those changes has not been easy. Managerially, politically, and legally, the Bush administration has faced many obstacles during its struggle to refocus our government on combating terrorism. And it still has more work to do. As we prepare to elect a new group of leaders to govern our legislative branch for the next two years, we must consider each party's record on national security along with each party's commitment to making further changes for our safety.
But the most important national security issue facing our country today is our nation's ongoing military operations in Iraq. When we began the effort to overthrow Saddam's government three and one half years ago, I adamantly supported the invasion. But over the course of our military deployment in Iraq, our troops have discovered no weapons of mass destruction. The country's fledgling democratic government is struggling to maintain power. Our troops are increasingly becoming the target of sectarian strife. The war has also helped turn al-Qaeda from a deadly organization into a global ideological movement that is inspiring Muslims all over the world to take up arms against civilized countries. It would be an act of arrogance on my behalf not to acknowledge that the war itself was and is a mistake.
But just because the war was a mistake does not mean that it is not related to the war on terror. Just because the war was a mistake does not mean we should wave the white flag of surrender. Just because the war was a mistake does not mean we are less safe. After spending billions of dollars and losing countless lives, we cannot afford to throw away our one chance to gain a foothold in the Middle East.
Democrats have spent months trying to convince Americans that the war on terrorism is in no way related to the war on Iraq. To emphasize their point, they have recently began touting a National Intelligence Estimate that states: "We assess that the Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists." But the Democrats cannot have their cake and eat it, too. How can Iraq not be related to the war on terror, yet at the same time be a cause celebre for jihadists? The document then goes on to support the President's argument that if we withdraw from Iraq, the terrorists will be embolden. However, if we remain firm in our resolve and allow liberty to gain a foothold in Mesopotamia, the blow to the terrorists will be substantial. But the Democrats have commented little about those two portions of the intelligence report. The Democrats have also ignored the words of Osama bin Laden himself, who has said Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.
For years, Western civilization was a cause celebre for jihadist. Giving the terrorists a different target may have expanded their ranks, but it has taken their focus off of the Untied States and caused them to worry about a nation in their own neighborhood. This has placed America in the beneficial position of being on offense. It has also contributed to our safety. I would much rather have a larger number of terrorists attacking one another in their own homeland than a smaller number of terrorists attacking us.
Hindsight is 20/20. I supported the invasion of Iraq, along with several Democratic Senators and Congressmen. As it turns out, invading that country was not a good idea. But everyone who supported going into Iraq was wrong, not just the President. And while I definitely believe George Bush could have handled the situation better, at least he does not want to retreat. At least he does not adhere to the flawed liberal doctrine that America is the cause of the terrorists. Islamic extremism was here long before we went into Iraq. But, if we succeed in Iraq, it may not be around for a long time after we leave. That is the bottom line.
The writer is a sophomore at Escambia County High School who writes a weekly political column for the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at
Tray Smith is a freshman at ECHS. He writes a weekly political column for the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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