Ken Connor

The divisions are so great here at home that both sides assume the other is lying and manipulating in order to advance a partisan cause. provided one example of this when it leveled a preemptive strike in the New York Times accusing General Petraeus of "cooking the books," of being a toady of the Bush Administration, and of being a traitor to his country. Those charges came before the General had even testified and are a classic example of the mindset which says, "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up." After his testimony, Hillary Clinton accused the General of "the willing suspension of disbelief" about the real facts, a not so subtle way of calling Petraeus a liar.

The unity produced in America by the horrifying events of September 11, 2001 has long since disappeared. In its place has emerged a rancor and cynicism that is all too characteristic of political partisanship and electoral politics. No consensus exists about the way forward. Two unsatisfactory positions have been staked out: Republicans supporting the war without a clear plan and Democrats opposing the war without a unified alternative. Few offer specific plans or goals; they choose instead to resort to slogans such as "we have to finish what we started" or "bring our troops home." While both of these sentiments have a measure of merit, they are merely slogans. They do not provide any solutions. Both parties seem centered on an appeal to public opinion, but because neither party offers much clarity, the public remains divided.

Meanwhile, terrorism remains an ongoing concern. Americans continue to invest blood and treasure because of the threat posed by Al Qaeda and its sympathizers. The terrorists have shown themselves willing to sacrifice their lives to advance their radical agenda while our troops daily give their lives to stop it. The question now is whether the politicians in our government will be willing to sacrifice political gain or subordinate personal ambition in order to come together to eliminate the threat. Among those waiting for an answer are members of the Iraqi Parliament who have more than just politics at stake.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.