This editorial by Prof. Bowen was published in the News Leader (Staunton VA: November 7, 2006): A9.
by Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.
(Professor, Dept. of Political Science, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton VA 24401)
- 4000 dead internationalist "martyrs" claimed by Al Qaeda in Iraq: Associated Press, ""Zarqawi Successor Exhorts Scientists; Tape Urges Experts to Join Fight in Iraq," Washington Post (Sept. 29, 2006).
- Jihadists entering and being captured in Iraq in 2006: Peter Grier, "Iraq War Draws Foreign Jihadists, But Not in Droves," Christian Science Monitor, (October 3, 2006).
- Omar al-Farouq story: "DNA Shows Dead Man Was al-Qaida Militant," Forbes online (October 10, 2006): http://www.forbes.com/business/commerce/feeds/ap/2006/10/10/ap3080474.html
- British general's comment: Washington Post (Oct. 13, 2006): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/13/AR2006101300102.html
- Fallows' article: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200609/fallows_victory
Since it sometimes is difficult to read every word of a scanned article (as above), here is a clear copy of the original version of this editorial for readers' reference:
What is to be done about the war? War weariness about Iraq clearly has set in among voters. Polls have begun to show strong support for any alternative strategy offered by Democratic Party candidates. Yet, the wider Global War on Terrorism is far from over. After the dust settles on the U.S. general election campaign, tough choices still will remain regarding how best to proceed.
Fresh evidence exists of Al Qaeda's continued global determination to attack U.S. interests. A London-based plot to bring down U.S.-bound airliners was foiled in August, revealing ties between terrorists in Britain, Muslim charities, and earthquake aid sent earlier to Pakistan. In June, the Jordanian-born leader of "Al Qaeda in Iraq," Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed by U.S. forces. But in September, his successor, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, declared that four thousand of his foreign fighters (i.e.: non-Iraqis) have died waging their terror campaign in Iraq since 2003. Farther east, U.S. and N.A.T.O. troops aiding the Karzai government in Afghanistan have faced terrorist violence in greater measure in 2006 than at any time since 2001. Like the London terrorists, these insurgents receive aid from Pakistani tribal areas. But our irregularly reliable ally, the Musharraf Government of Pakistan, agreed in early September to pull out of this lawless border region in a most unhelpful "truce." In Thailand and in the Philippines, jihadist Muslim extremist groups allied with Al Qaeda also continue brutal insurgencies that de-stabilize both pro-U.S. governments.
International Muslim jihadists continue to use Iraq both to bloody us and as a training site for their wider war. Recently, U.S. Major General William Caldwell, chief military spokesman for our forces in Iraq, stated that between 50 and 70 new internationalist fighters have entered Iraq each month. U.S. and coalition troops have captured 630 of these non-Iraqis just this year. One such infiltrator was Omar al-Farouq, an Al Qaeda terrorist who had escaped from a prison cell in Afghanistan in July 2005. Mr. al-Farouq was born a Kuwaiti, was detained in 2002 in Indonesia for plotting attacks there, and had been transferred to U.S. custody in Afghanistan. DNA tests have confirmed that he was killed by British commandos near Basra, Iraq, on September 25.
The international infiltrators not caught or killed often commit the worst attacks on innocent Iraqi civilians, and the death toll has been staggering, especially around election time in Iraq or here. Three and one half years in Iraq, only in Kurdish areas do a strong majority favor the continued presence of U.S. troops. Morale also is slipping within the coalition. On October 12, Gen. Richard Dannatt, the British commander of their 7000 troops, stated that we should "get ourselves out." The 119 dead British troops in the Iraq war, 2003-2006, apparently have been too high a price to pay. If they withdraw, if we withdraw with them, will Iraqi Armed Forces be able to stop more terrorists from slipping unmolested across Iran and into Iraq?
This is the context in which we must evaluate voters' simple and sincere desire to bring the troops home. What will they come home to? Will it be to a victory parade? James Fallows, writing in the respected Atlantic Monthly thinks so: we should "declare victory," then "redeploy" to Fortress America, he argued in September. This is a false, sirens' song.
Can Virginians still see the gathering danger five years after the attack on this state at the Pentagon? Osama bin Laden and his minions are still on the loose; their Afghan friends, the Taliban, again are resurgent. Global Al Qaeda still aims to down our planes to force their ways onto a wider world. The lawless regions of the Middle East and South Asia remain training centers for young Muslim men seeking mastery of these ugly arts. Discomfort with these facts does not relieve our policymakers from responsibilities assigned them to defend and protect this land. As surely as a Taliban-run Afghanistan was the safe-haven from which Osama organized the 9/11 attacks on America, we just as surely will come to regret it if we permit Iraq, Afghanistan, or other failed states to become safe-havens for terrorists tomorrow.
We vote November 7 for a Congress, and we then must rely on the judgments of our elected officials. Future generations will not view us kindly if our voters, or our elected officials, prefer not to undertake the difficult efforts needed to achieve the necessary victory.
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