Reality is a bitch and, like Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction, she will not be ignored.
In a September 22, 2003 interview, George W. Bush told Fox News' Brit Hume, "So I guess I would rather fight them there than here. I know I would rather fight them there than here, and I know would rather fight them there than in other remote parts of the world, where it may be more difficult to find them."
"There" was Iraq and "here" was the United States.
I think it's reasonable to extend the domestic safety provided if we "fight them there" to all the members of Bush's "Coalition of the Willing". As of March 21, 2003 two nations were prominently included in the coalition, Spain and the United Kingdom.
On March 11, 2004, ten bombs exploded on four trains in three stations in Madrid, Spain. The blasts killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,500. Spain has since withdrawn its coalition troops.
Bush reiterated his earlier sentiment in his May 21, 2005 radio address: "Our strategy is clear: We will fight the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home."
On July 7, 2005, four bombs exploded in London, killing at least 50 people and wounding 700.
Many people have asked for a long time why the terrorists can't fight us there AND here? The answer now seems obvious. They can. This has been tragically demonstrated to the Spanish and British. And what gives America a special exemption? Nothing. We are geographically isolated, which makes things more difficult for our enemies, but not impossible.
Don't you dare claim that the Spanish or British contributions to the coalition weren't significant, making this an unfair comparison. If you do you'll suffer the Wrath of Bush. John Kerry certainly did during the second presidential debate.
The attacks in Madrid and London confirm that Dubya's ridiculous assertion that fighting them over there keeps us safe over here has no basis in fact. But that's not unexpected. Fantasy is his stock-in-trade. Saddam had WMDs, right? Major combat operations in Iraq are complete, right?
The Right Wing propaganda machine immediately tried to trivialize the attacks. Rush Limbaugh said, "It's like I said, 40 people dead, 150 seriously wounded, 1,000 wounded out of over a million people in that transit tube. It's not a successful terrorist attack, folks. They didn't succeed in doing anything."
If you accept his reasoning, 9/11 wasn't a successful terrorist attack either. How many people died on September 11, 2001 compared to the number of people working in office buildings around the country? How about just in New York City? If you want to play the percentages, the attacks harmed only a small number. And don't even mention the anthrax attacks.
It should be obvious that such a claim is moronic. Terrorism isn't about the numbers. It's about the murder of innocent people. But Rush still made this statement on the air and posted it on his web site. I'm sure many dittoheads agree with him.
There are also people who mock those who express an interest in finding the "root cause" of terrorism. Karl Rove recently implied that this approach serves to coddle the enemy, not defeat them. But every great warrior from Sun Tzu to Douglas McArthur has known that to defeat an enemy you must understand them.
If we want to accomplish anything in terms of Iraq and terrorism our leaders need to embrace more facts and less rhetoric. Reality is a harsh mistress and she will slit your throat in a second if you ignore her.
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