Monday, November 21, 2005

With Murtha and Laughter Let Old Wrinkles Come

The redeeming quality of treadmills is that you can watch television while you run. After SpongeBob SquarePants (which was very disappointing, I remember it being funnier), I caught Vice President Cheney's speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

It's worth excerpting a few choice tidbits.
But nobody is saying we should not be having this discussion or that you cannot reexamine a decision made by the president and the Congress some years ago.

To the contrary, I believe it is critical that we continue to remind ourselves why this nation took action and why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror and why we have a duty to persevere.

What is not legitimate and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible is the suggestion by some U.S. senators that the president of the United States or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on prewar intelligence.

Some of the most irresponsible comments have come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein.

These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence materials. They are known to have a high opinion of their own analytical capabilities.

And they were free to reach their own judgments based upon the evidence.

They concluded, as the president and I had concluded, and as the previous administration had concluded, that Saddam Hussein was a threat.

Available intelligence indicated that the dictator of Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and this judgment was shared by the intelligence agencies of many other nations, according to the bipartisan Silberman-Robb commission.

All of us understood, as well, that for more than a decade, the U.N. Security Council had demanded that Saddam Hussein make a full accounting of his weapons programs.

The burden of proof was entirely on the dictator of Iraq, not on the U.N. or the United States or anyone else. And he repeatedly refused to comply throughout the course of the decade.


Meanwhile, back in the United States, a few politicians are suggesting these brave Americans were sent into battle for a deliberate falsehood.

This is revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety. It has no place anywhere in American politics, much less in the United States Senate.


The terrorists want to end American and Western influence in the Middle East.

Their goal in that region is to gain control of a country so they have a base from which to launch attacks and to wage war against governments that do not meet their demands.

For a time, the terrorists had such a base in Afghanistan under the backward and violent rule of the Taliban. And the terrorists hope to overturn Iraq's democratic government and return that country to the rule of tyrants.

The terrorists believe that by controlling an entire country, they will be able to target and overthrow other governments in the region and to establish a radical Islamic empire that encompasses a region from Spain across North Africa through the Middle East and South Asia all the way to Indonesia.

They have made clear as well their ultimate ambitions: to arm themselves with weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate all Western countries and to cause mass death in the United States.

Some have suggested that by liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein we simply stirred up a hornet's nest. They overlook a fundamental fact: We were not in Iraq on September 11th, 2001, and the terrorists hit us anyway.

The reality is the terrorists were at war with our country long before the liberation of Iraq and long before the attacks of 9/11. And for many years, they were the ones on the offensive. They grew bolder in the belief that if they killed Americans, they could change American policy.

In Beirut in 1983, terrorists killed 241 of our servicemen. Thereafter, the United States withdrew from Beirut.

In Mogadishu in 1993, terrorists killed 19 American soldiers. Thereafter, the U.S. withdrew its forces from Somalia.

Over time the terrorists concluded that they could strike America without paying a price, because they did repeatedly: the bombing at the World Trade Center in 1993, the murders at the Saudi National Guard Training Center in Riyadh in 1995, the Khobar Towers in 1996, the simultaneous bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and, of course, the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.

Believing they could strike us with impunity and that they could change U.S. policy, they attacked us on 9/11 here in the homeland, killing 3,000 people.

Now they're making a stand in Iraq, testing our resolve, trying to intimidate the United States into abandoning our friends and permitting the overthrow of this new Middle Eastern democracy.

Recently, we obtained a message from the number two man in Al Qaida, Mr. Zawahiri, that he sent to his chief deputy in Iraq, the terrorist Zarqawi. The letter makes clear that Iraq is part of a larger plan of imposing Islamic radicalism across the broader Middle East, making Iraq a terrorist haven and a staging ground for attacks against other nations.

Zawahiri also expresses the view that America can be made to run again.
In light of the commitments our country has made, and given the stated intentions of the enemy, those who advocate a sudden withdraw from Iraq should answer a few simple questions: Would the United States and other free nations be better off or worse off with Zarqawi, bin Laden and Zawahiri in control of Iraq? Would we be safer or less safe with Iraq ruled by men intent on the destruction of our country?

It is a dangerous illusion to suppose that another retreat by the civilized world would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone.

In fact, such a retreat would convince the terrorists that free nations will change our policies, forsake our friends, abandon our interests whenever we are confronted with murder and blackmail.

A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would be a victory for the terrorists, an invitation to further violence against free nations and a terrible blow to the future security of the United States of America.

I realize most of my last few posts have dealt with politics and not religion, which everyone loves hearing about. I'll return to that as soon as possible, however, it is important to counter this ridiculous notion that the Bush Administration lied about pre-war intelligence and that leaving Iraq immediately or within six months is a good idea. Why six months? Why not a week? What's magical about six months, other than the fact that Murtha is naturally attracted to big, round numbers.