College Dems and Repubs spar over Iraq occupation

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

College Democrats and Republicans clashed over the question of whether the war in Iraq is making America safer in last night’s debate at the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

The College Republicans argued that the war has protected the country because there haven’t been any terrorist attacks on American soil, ships or embassies since the war began in 2003, but the College Democrats said the war is diverting resources from the real threat in Afghanistan and acting as a recruit tool for al-Qaida.

“The war in Iraq has proven to be a triple blessing for al-Qaida,” said Oakley B. Gordon, president of the College Democrats.

Gordon said the war has strengthened al-Qaida’s support, diverted American efforts away from terrorists’ core regions in Afghanistan and Pakistan and granted al-Qaida the convenience of striking at American forces without having to leave the Middle East.

Jessica Fawson, secretary of the College Republicans, said Afghanistan and Iraq are the same enemy. She said the United States has made progress in both wars by decreasing the number of terrorists.

Anastasia Niedrich, liaison for the College Democrats and the Queer Student Union, said this is not enough.

“If Saddam’s gone, that’s great, but we still have the Taliban,” Niedrich said. “If one threat remains, we’re not safer.”

Niedrich, who works as a columnist for The Daily Utah Chronicle, said 74 percent of Americans don’t feel safer because of the Iraq war, and the number of global terrorist attacks have increased from more than 1,100 in the five years before Sept. 11 to more than 5,100 from 2001 to the present.

Max Loveless, treasurer of the College Republicans, said there haven’t been attacks on American soil since the war started, but before there were incidences such as the suicide bombing of the U.S.S. Cole navy ship in 2000, the Sept. 11 attacks, earlier bombings of the World Trade Centers and attacks on African embassies.

“The fact of the matter is, we have not been attacked (since),” Loveless said.

Chase Clyde, secretary of the College Democrats, said both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have said it is only a matter of time until America is attacked again.

He said more than 4,000 American soldiers have been killed and more than 30,000 have been seriously wounded, many coming home with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The fact is, this war is a mess,” Clyde said. “The real issue is what’s going on in the lawless region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Fawson countered by saying the Democrats weren’t sticking to the premise of the debate.

“There were mistakes made, but we’re not debating that,” she said.

Democrats said the war is hurting world opinions of the United States, which makes the country more vulnerable, but the Republicans said there is no correlation between America’s status and the number of attacks.

Niedrich said America is wasting resources and lives on the war.

“Every soldier and dollar spent in Iraq is a resource we could be using to win the war on terror,” Niedrich said.

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