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The Peril of Politics Over the War on Terror
by: Sen. Trent Lott       Filed 3/16/07 GCN

       While our U.S. troop surge and the Iraq military are suppressing sectarian violence in Iraq, in Washington some are trying to score political points against the Administration’s anti-terrorism policy.  Leaders of the majority in the House of Representatives are trying to sink the latest troop funding bill by burdening it with unrelated spending proposals and toothless political resolutions calling for a withdrawal from the War on Terror’s front line.  America’s leaders must find a way to take a more principled, less political stance on this war.

The situation is indicative of the widening gulf between Washington’s political and media scene and the vast majority of Americans.  Regardless of their feelings about going into Iraq, most folks don’t want to see American troops withdrawn in the face of terrorist threats, especially as our troops are making gains.  And they don’t want the needs of America’s combat troops in Afghanistan or Iraq delayed by political maneuvering.

I hope the Senate will pass a clean funding bill to provide our troops what they need. Unrelated amendments to raise the minimum wage or even give tax breaks to businesses should be removed from the military funding bill.

But how the Senate and House got to this point is a lingering problem.  It’s the result of partisan politics, void of principle.  It’s been six years since 3,000 Americans were killed on our own soil by terrorists.  As traumatic as 9/11 was, some seem to be looking for short term political gain rather than long term security.

Regardless of politics and who wins in 2008, our fight with terrorism will continue.  Terrorists will still try to attack Americans at home.  They’ll continue trying to incite violence globally.  It will take strong, principled leadership to fight terrorism.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars pleaded last week with Congressional leaders to pass a clean military funding measure.  In a letter to every Member of Congress, the VFW said Iraq is indeed the “centerpiece” of the global War on Terror, and it is “imperative that the warrior not be separated from the mission.”

Combat military veterans aren’t the only folks willing to state the very plain, unvarnished truth about Iraq and the War on Terror.  Journalist Ted Koppel said it succinctly this week.  He said the War on Terror “has been going on for the past 24 years,” starting when terrorists killed more than 200 U.S. Marines in Beirut back in 1983.  Our withdrawal from Iraq, he accurately stated, would spark a regional conflict that the U.S. “cannot allow to happen.”  With sobering candor, he said what millions of principled people recognize:  the War on Terror, like the Cold War, will be a protracted struggle – sometimes cold, sometimes hot, but always on.

Washington must find a more bipartisan approach to the War on Terror and avoid the partisanship we have seen with this upcoming troop funding bill.  Terrorists will not suddenly abandon their posts when this administration leaves.  History shows they’re only emboldened by those who play politics. 

There’s no question we’re in a long war with terrorists who declared a war on us well before 9/11.  If so many principled Americans, from veterans to journalists, can look beyond current politics and recognize the perennial peril posed by terrorism, Congress can find a way to do it, too. 

Senator Lott welcomes any questions or comments about this column. 

Write to: U.S. Senator Trent Lott, 487 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (Attn: Press Office) or Email

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