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Column: U.S. Finally Focuses On Al-Qaida, Which They Should Have All Along

This story was written by Sean Lutzmann, The BG News

It has been my experience that the one thing uniting all the political action groups at Bowling Green University is our disgust with the apathy that is so entrenched on our campus, and indeed, within our entire generation. That is why a liberal Democrat like myself can still be thankful for the Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony that occurred last Thursday here on campus, put on by the BGSU chapter of the College Republicans. It is important we keep what happened on that day in our memories as we go on with our lives, and that it does not slip into obscurity amidst our current culture's obsession with celebrity, scandal and mindless entertainment.

But it is also crucial we not only remember what happened on that dark day, but that we take away the right lessons from that memory of those terrorist attacks as well. For too many Americans, the key lessons learned were that we should be constantly afraid and that we should let our government do whatever it takes to keep us safe. This was of course on full display as this country decided to invade Iraq because the Bush administration convinced far too many of us that Saddam Hussein was allied with those who had attacked us onSept. 11and he intended to equip them with the most destructive weapons known to man. This was a strategic error (though a noble one to liberate so many people from a brutal dictator) that now most Americans regret, as the decision to invade Iraq alienated many of our allies and, according to the National Intelligence Estimate, hindered our efforts to crack down on al-Qaeda and organizations sympathetic to its cause.

I only bring up this painful issue because we are beginning to see that process repeat itself in regards to Iran and to some degree with Russia. The latter of which has been the target of war mongering talk more often in recent days as a result of its defending itself against Georgian aggression. We have to dismiss calls from Sen. McCain for us all to be "Georgians now," as well as statements from his running mate that Georgia should be a NATO member in which case we would be obligated to go to war with Russia any time the Georgian president feels like violating a ceasefire treaty as he had recently done.

It is absolutely crucial that we keep our country's primary focus on al-Qaeda, the people behind Sept.11, with their major base of operations in Afghanistan and its eastern region which runs along the Pakistani border, particularly in the Waziristan province. The biggest challenge for the next president will not be to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, but rather how they will go about dealing diplomatically with the newly elected Pakistani government to better crack down on the tribal regions along the Afghan border where so much of the leadership of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, are located.

Right now the Bush administration is moving slowly but surely towards shifting military forces from Iraq to the original battleground for the so-called War on Terror in Afghanistan. According to Reuters news service, the U.S. is taking 8,000 servicemen and women out of Iraq and is now planning on adding a Marine battalion and an Army brigade to the effort in Afghanistan. These actions are similar to what Sen. Obama has been proposing for some time now, but I suppose it's better late than never.

Sen. McCain on the other hand is still in the frame of mind that the main theatre of operations against al-Qaeda is in Iraq, with Iran emerging as the next biggest threat. He is fond of using the old clich (which is somewhat inappropriate given the context) that he will follow bin Laden to "the gates of Hell" to bring him to justice. America would be better off if hewould just stick to a foreign policy that puts the emphasis on hunting down those responsible for theSept. 11attacks and their enablers who are now re-emerging with a vengeance in Afghanistan.

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