Vets For Freedom is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of combat veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan fronts of the war against terrorists, of which Iraq has now become the central front. We support policymakers from both sides of the aisle who have stood behind our great generation of American warriors on the battlefield, and who have put long-term national security before short-term partisan political gain.
This week our organization started running television ads in Nebraska encouraging Senator Nelson to remain committed to victory over Al Qaeda in Iraq. We have asked him not to surrender the fight as some of his colleagues have.
After 9/11 many of us saw what we now know as the war against terrorists start in Afghanistan. That fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban continues today. But as Al Qaeda’s leadership has told us, the primary battle is now in Iraq. It is from there that Al Qaeda plans to set up another base of operations, launch more attacks on the western world, and spread, by violence, their radical form of Islam.
Unfortunately, the center of gravity for success in Iraq lies as much in Washington D.C. as it does in Iraq. Whether or not we prevail against terrorists in Iraq may be determined by Congressional politicians, not conditions on the battlefield.
That is why we are telling Senator Nelson we’ll stand with him to persevere and defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq. We are encouraging him not to join those who want to cut and run.
From the amendments he has submitted in the Senate related to the war on terror to his rhetoric, Senator Nelson has been steadfast in his resolve to defeat Al Qaeda and the threat they pose. He understands that we are fighting them in Iraq, while other politicians refuse to acknowledge that fact. It is obvious that Senator Nelson grasps the long-term consequences of giving up the fight against Al Qaeda.
Amendments he has proposed often address many of the same difficult issues our first-hand experiences would say need addressed. He has only suggested “recommended dates” or dates as goals for benchmarks of accomplishment. He has avoided the “hard dates” and the demand for a precipitous withdrawal we both know would be catastrophic to the Iraqi people, the Middle East and, in time, our national security.
While we might disagree with Senator Nelson about the levels of success the surge has accomplished and the need for any amendments or changes in course at this time, (the surge in troops has only been in full effect for five weeks) we are in agreement that Al Qaeda is a threat to be defeated.
The last few weeks have shown tremendous success by coalition troops against Al Qaeda and the Shiite militias responsible for so much of the violence. The Iraqi people in other provinces have followed the ground swell movement started in the Anbar province against Al Qaeda. They have crossed sectarian and religious lines to join together against all groups threatening their lives and the future of their country. The plan implemented by General Petraeus is working, and should be given time to continue toward success.
We are asking Senator Nelson for that time, to listen to the commanders on the ground, and to listen to the troops who’ve been there, both here and on his upcoming trip to Iraq.
Senator Nelson will undoubtedly be lobbied very hard by radical anti-war groups over the course of the next month ahead of General Petraeus’ report. Groups like Code Pink and MoveOn don’t understand the threat posed by Al Qaeda, nor do they care. They have purely partisan political agendas which focus on anything but our long-term national security. Yet they will likely target Senator Nelson in hopes of encouraging him to surrender as they have.
Senator Nelson has been a stalwart advocate for our military personnel. He has held strong positions in the fight against Al Qaeda and that will make him a target of anti-war groups. We want him to know through our current campaign that we will stand with him in his decision to remain aggressive in the fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq. We encourage him to give the surge the time it needs and to remain committed to our long-term national security interests while continuing to avoid short-term partisan political gain. We are encouraging other Nebraskans to do the same: to stand with Senator Nelson and support victory in Iraq and the defeat of Al Qaeda.
The authors are Vets for Freedom’s Nebraska state co-chairs Brian Bresnahan of Benedict and Carl Hartmann of Omaha. Both are Marine Corps combat veterans of the conflict in Iraq. Major Bresnahan served near Fallujah in 2004. Carl Hartmann has served 3 combat tours in Iraq, including near Mahmudiya, Al Qaim, and Ramadi.