John McCaslin

President Bush came face-to-face with the sacrifice and uncertainty surrounding the war in Iraq during an "ask the president" event this week at Okaloosa-Walton College in Niceville, Fla.

"I have a brother who served in Afghanistan and is going back to Iraq," a young woman stood up and told the president, wondering whether his administration has a vision and strategy to complete the mission.

"That's a very legitimate question," Bush replied. "And the answer is, we do. . . . I just want you to know that your brother is going on a mission that has historic proportions to it."

He then recalled a story that "I hope helps you and helps everybody understand." He said he was sharing dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Tokyo and thought it significant their conversation centered on world peace.

"Now, the interesting part of the story, I think, as far as your brother is concerned, is that during the course of the conversation I thought it was pretty neat to be talking to a prime minister of a country that we had been at war with. . . .

"And that day I was talking to the head of a former enemy, and we're talking about keeping the world more peaceful. There were a lot of people after World War II who did not believe that Japan could be a self-governing, peaceful nation. . . .

"But, fortunately, our predecessors in the presidency and the Senate and the Congress . . . never forgot that fantastic American belief that freedom has the capacity to transform lives, transform enemies to allies in peace."

Bush concluded by telling the woman: "Someday, an American president is going to be sitting down with an elected leader from Iraq, huddled and talking about how to keep the peace. That's what your brother's mission is."

SPLIT MUSLIMS

We've written about American Muslims for George W. Bush, its actual Web site being muslimsforbush.com.

Now, a group of American Muslims supporting John Kerry for president officially has started its own Web site - muslimsforkerry.com.

"Muslim voters in this election are a crucial demographic for the campaigns, because of their concentration in battleground states like Michigan and Ohio," says Shahed Amanullah, one of the founders of the new Kerry Web site.

He predicts Muslim voters this November "will come out in large numbers and vote for the candidate that offers this country the brightest future."

"That candidate is clearly John Kerry . . . the right man for the presidency of the United States of America."

Amanullah says Muslim organizations are registering unprecedented numbers of voters, many of whom are becoming involved for the first time.


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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