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THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2007
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EDITORIAL

War hawks’ rhetoric fails test of logic

If you flip a coin 10 times, and the first nine times it comes up heads, the odds that it will come up heads again on the 10th try are ... 50-50.

That classic statistical example is designed to instill the lesson that there is no cause/effect relationship between past results and future events; that the future cannot be predicted with certainty.

Those who insist that a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq prevents terror attacks in the United States would do well to study that lesson.

President Bush and others have insisted that, if the United States fails to combat terror in Iraq, we will find the terrorists bringing the fight to our soil. As recently as Wednesday, Republican Sen. John McCain, a presidential aspirant, said: "... if we come home, bin Laden and Zarqawi, they are going to follow us."

But the GOP rhetoric is faulty in several ways. President Bush assumes that the war on terror must be fought in Iraq. Sen. McCain talks of "coming home" rather than re-deploying.

The war hawks' argument continues to propagate the myth that the war in Iraq is somehow connected to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, (while the Bush administration used those horrific events to justify the invasion of Iraq, it was proven long ago that 15 of the attackers were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon). It is an either/or proposition that assumes that bin Laden, Zarqawi and others will not attack U.S. soil as long as our troops are in Iraq. And it fails to explain exactly how our military men and women stationed in Iraq can prevent a terrorist attack here.

According to the faulty logic employed by Mr. Bush, Sen. McCain and others, the U.S. presence in Iraq has some magical quality that prevents future terror attacks here. Keep the troops in Iraq, no attack. Withdraw and re-deploy, attacks here are certain.

But a number of other scenarios are possible — perhaps even more likely.

It is possible that terrorists can attack the U.S. while we maintain a military presence in Iraq. In fact, the war there has given the terrorists a rallying point and training ground, actually heightening the probability of a future attack on the homeland.

It is also possible that our military leaders could withdraw and re-deploy troops — preferably to areas where the real terrorists are hiding — and there would be no attacks here. Only one thing is certain if we withdraw from Iraq: There would be no more U.S. military casualties there.

The truth is that future terrorist attacks are less dependent on our presence in Iraq than on the plotting of the terrorists themselves.

It is time to re-deploy U.S. troops to fight the real war on terror.

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