Political Sidetrack About the War in Iraq
Allow me, if you will, a few thoughts about the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism at large.
- I heard something on the radio that irriated and surprised me. In a "heated exchange" between presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain, Obama made a statement roughly to this effect: "There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq."
I don't claim to be an expert, but it seems to me that this is a very naive statement. Granted, I don't have the access to military intelligence data that Obama has, but to say there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq until 2003 is a pretty big claim. On a nitpicky level, I could argue that the only way to know that would have been to interview every single citizen of Iraq and comb every square inch of the country. But I don't believe I need to go that far.
Was Saddam Hussein a terrorist? That depends on your definition. Did he rule and lead by terror? Yes. Was he involved in or complicit to or authorizing of the typical clandestine murder and mayhem that accompanies modern-day terrorism? I don't know. Maybe he thumbed his nose at terrorists who operated outside of conventional military tactics, maybe not. But I will eat out of Trissy's (family dog) food dish if Saddam Hussein wasn't pleased by al-Qaeda's campaign against the U.S. I feel confident that he at least smiled, if only internally, when he heard about the twin towers. Every thorn in America's side, I am confident, was like a breath of fresh air to Hussein. Again, maybe Saddam didn't recognize al-Qaeda or support it, either officially or unofficially. But I'll be doggone if he didn't like their ultimate goal: the downfall of the U.S., capitalism, or what have you.
Did al-Qaeda have bases in Iraq? Maybe, maybe not. But before I believe they weren't in Iraq, I'll need to see some hard facts. Because base or not, I'll also eat out of Alfred's (family cat) food dish for a month if there weren't al-Qaeda supporters in Iraq. Iraq under Hussein was the prefect breeding ground for a terrorist organization like al-Qaeda. They want anti-American sentiment? They have it, both in and out of the government. They want a leader who hates America? Hussein in a nutshell. They want a pool of impressionable Muslims from which to draw their army of radical and warped operatives? They got it.
So again I say, if you want to convince me that there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq until the U.S. invasion in 2003, you're gonna have to give me more than a fancy, crowd-pleasing statement, Senator. I'm going to need proof, because I just don't believe it. I believe it was a statement meant to rouse the crowd and poke at John McCain. I may not think McCain is the best candidate we had to choose from, but I believe that when is comes to Iraq, he not only has his head on straight, he knows what he's talking about.
I have no severe quarrel about Obama- I prefer him over "Hell"-ary Clinton. But I can't help but feel that he spends too much time catering to the crowd and telling them what they want to hear: "I'm not Bush, that makes me qualified;" "It's time for change" (he's awfully quiet about what specifically he plans to change, other than the nameplate on the Oval Office desk).
Next thought: almost 5 years later, I still think going into Iraq was a good idea. I think it was smart to remove Saddam Hussein from power. I don't know if there were weapons of mass destruction, but I feel confident there could have been not long after. Saddam may not have been necesarrily an imminent threat, but he certainly was no friend to America, and I think having him gone can do nothing but good. I stood by President Bush's decision from the beginning and will continue to do so.
It's a tragedy to see the war situation so dire and seemingly unfixable- whatever the cause, it's a situation to which I sometimes think: "Well, that could have been handled better." How, I couldn't begin to pretend to know- it's not my area of expertise. I simply hope it can end well for Iraq and us, with a free democratic process firmly and safely in place over there, which I feel will make for a safer life over here. Just yanking the plug isn't the key, though, as many Democrats would say. We started this thing in Iraq, and to not finish it shows both weakness and a lack of determination, which will, I think, hurt America's reputation more than the decision to invade Iraq ever could.
On that note, hate Bush or like him, but you have to give him credit (and maybe respect) for sticking to his guns. Not once, since taking office, has he changed his mind or weakened his position to match the polls or popularity statistics. He has his convictions about what is right, and agree or disagree, you have to give some respect to a person who sticks with those convictions come hell or high water. People clamor and scream that he's the worst president ever. I wholeheartedly disagree.
My final thought: I am proud of Prince Harry. It takes guts to put yourself in a situation where you could end up in harm's way. I've never really felt inclined to join the military, though if the need really came, I hope I'd have the courage to volunteer.
It would have been easy for Prince Harry to hide behind his celebrity and not go to war, but he wanted to be a soldier, wanted to serve the country that he could someday rule. I watched a story about his service last week, and was interested to find out that one thing he liked a lot was his relative anonymity. He was, for some weeks, just "one of the boys," out defending Queen and country. Even his interpreters didn't know who he was.
He was brought back to England, after the intense secrecy and security about keeping his deployed status and location a secret was made public. I like to think that while some people might hope for such a short tour of duty, Prince Harry was a bit disappointed at leaving his comrades and fellow soldiers behind to continue the duty he so proudly took up.