Friday, June 09, 2006

Cross-posted from Green Mountain Daily:

Iraq isn't strictly a local Vermont story, but the front page of today's Burlington Free Press carries two stories that fit together to show what's wrong with the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq.

First, we have the story that about 375 Vermont National Guard members are on their way back from Iraq. This is obviously good news, and we are glad that they will soon be reunited with their families.

Second, and also good news, is the well-deserved death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

So what's the problem, you say? Well, it's something you didn't read in the Free Press, or in most of the other MSM coverage of Zarqawi's death, but it's crucial to what's happening in Iraq today. You see, we had a chance to get Zarqawi way back in 2002. “Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

The reason was simple: taking Zarqawi out of the picture would have taken him off the table as a rationale for invading Iraq. “People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,” according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.

Think what that would have meant:

Nicholas Berg, Eugene Armstrong, and other Americans beheaded by Zarqawi: maybe they'd still be alive today.

The suicide bombings around Iraq that Zarqawi organized, and the hundreds killed: maybe they never would have happened either.

And that invasion of Iraq, the one sold to us and to the world based on claims that Iraq was supporting terrorists: well, we know the story about chemical and biological weapons was a lie, we know the story about support for terrorists was a lie, and we know it took a hard sell to get Congress to approve military force. It's hard to say that this one piece of evidence would have made the difference, but you never know.

And with no invasion of Iraq we wouldn't have to read about Vermonters being separated from their families. And we wouldn't have those families worrying about whether their loved ones will be coming home.

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