THE WAR AND MOOD SWINGS

A reader emails:

Thanks for highlighting Kevin Drum’s comments, which I found cogent and illuminating, even though I maintain my opposition to the war in Iraq (as I have since the invasion). I’ve been following your mood swings on the war with both a mixture of admiration and annoyance. On my good days I share your optimism and faith that our fine military can somehow transcend the morass the Pentagon has put them in, but I confess I roll my eyes on the occasions when you swoon over one of Bush’s chest-thumping “stay-the-course” speeches, such as on Chris Matthews’s show yesterday morning.

But I think I speak for millions of my fellow Americans when I say that we are fervently anti-war not because we’re some cartoonish Sheehan-style peaceniks but because the war in Iraq has failed utterly to protect us from terrorism here. Indeed, it may very well lead to another 9/11, as our distracted policy makers have neglected even the most basic and urgent of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, such as increased inspections of cargo containers, better intelligence gathering on possible sleeper cells and terrorist plots, etc. The confusion over our recent subway scare here in New York should give everyone pause, as Mayor Bloomberg and Ray Kelly implied that the Feds’ dismissal of the intelligence was complacent at best, and incompetent at worst.

On “Meet the Press” yesterday, those sage heads of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, struck a completely different tone to your optimism. As Kean and Hamilton emphasized, almost to the point of shouting at Tim Russert, our government has done virtually nothing to implement the Commission’s meticulous suggestions, making a future catastrophic attack on U.S. soil a near certainty — not if, but when, as both men noted. “Heaven help us,” Kean said and he’s right. Frankly, I’m surprised you haven’t commented on Kean and Hamilton today.

After all, aren’t all the young lives lost and billions of taxpayer dollars spent in Iraq supposed to be an insurance policy against another 9/11-style attack? I lived through the horror of that day — the images of fire and smoke and falling bodies are seared forever into my memory. I’d like some war hawk to tell me unequivocally that our involvement in Iraq will spare our country another terrifying day like that one.

Until then, I mourn the losses in Iraq and pray for smarter, more competent ideas on national security to emerge.

It appears that the 9/11 Commission agrees with him.

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