Wednesday, May 9, 2007
A Congressional Wakeup Call
Recently, the State Department issued a report that incidents of international terrorism have increased by more than 25 per cent over the last year, indicating that the most substantial increases in terrorism were in Iraq, Within days after that report, the government of Saudi Arabia, announced the arrests of 172 Islamic radical fundamentalists who plotted to use air attacks to bomb Saudi Arabia's oil fields and storm their prisons to free inmates.
One week later, 222 members of the United States Congress passed legislation requiring a timetable on troop withdrawal from Iraq with restrictions on war funding. Such legislation will severely impact General David Petraeus' ability to carry out his mandate, a mandate that Congress themselves approved.
What does Saudi Arabia have to do with Iraq? What does one have to do with the other? In my opinion, it is a chilling demonstration that, nearly six years after 9/11, there are members of Congress that still do not understand what this war is about and who the enemy truly is. In an extreme turnaround, perhaps Congress should now watch and listen to the Saudis, who, in the past, we were fast to criticize, but who have come to the realization that this is just as much their war as it is ours, just as it is any country’s war that wants to live in a terror free world.
According to the Saudi Interior Ministry, the attacks in Saudi Arabia were to be carried out against government buildings, public figures, oil facilities and military targets, including some outside of the Kingdom. The extremists had the personnel, the money and the weaponry with some of the assaults planned by way of suicide missions. Does this sound familiar? These are the exact same targets that are the focus of extremists today in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oddly enough, they could fit the description of the actual targets in the United States, carried out by 19 members of Al-Qaeda, in a plan designed by Osama Bin Laden, on the morning of September 11, 2001.
It was Al-Qaeda on 9/11, and it is Al-Qaeda on Afghanistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia today. To validate that it is, in fact, the same enemy and the same fight, all we need to do is review the most recent tape released by Al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s chief deputy, wherein he speaks about Al-Qaeda’s fight against the west, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Algeria, Somalia and, yes, Saudi Arabia.
He then goes on to mock the recent Congressional bill setting forth a withdrawal timetable for U.S. troops, and, in doing so, sends a message to his followers worldwide that the United States has neither the patience nor the courage to fight this enemy. In his words, Al Qaeda fighters in Iraq were "nearing closer to victory over their enemy, despite this sectarian fighting" that has convulsed the country.
With grave concern, I must ask... What is it going to take for our congressional leaders to face the fact that we must remain in this war through fruition, if we are going to win it. At this particular juncture, it would behoove Congress to spend less time opposing and criticizing President Bush, Vice President Cheney and this administration, and come to the realization as a nation, it would be detrimental to lose this battle in Iraq.
It is imperative to understand that Iraq or Afghanistan are merely battlegrounds in a war with this new found enemy. Congress should reflect on 9/11 and Ground Zero, the first battleground in the war, and admit that our inactions and failures in the past to pursue this enemy led to our vulnerabilities on that day.
They should look at those responsible then and those leading Al-Qaeda’s fight against the west today. Furthermore, they should put all their political agendas aside, have the courage to admit the truth, and conclude that the war against terrorism will not end by withdrawing from Iraq. The most integral key to this conclusion, is to remember that we are engaged in a war, not a police action, not an isolated battle or a diplomatic challenge. The goal of this or any war is to win. If we fail in this war, thousands of Americans, perhaps millions, could one day be victims of an attack that could tragically surpass the attacks of 9/11.
The time is ripe for Congress to wake up!