WASHINGTON, DC – Today Representative Ike Skelton (MO), the Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee, commented on the ongoing Republican attempt to combine the war in Iraq and the war on terror.

“For the last several weeks, administration officials and Republican Congressional leaders have stepped up their mistaken political rhetoric that casually lumps together the war in Iraq and the war against al Qaeda in Afghanistan. 

“I want to be clear about this: our country is engaged in two separate wars.  The first is the war against terrorism, which has its genesis in Afghanistan.  Al Qaeda attacked us on September 11, 2001, and shortly thereafter, our military forces attacked their strongholds in Afghanistan.  We remain there today, fighting the remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban government that supported them.  The initial attack by our military and the ongoing conflict is a war of necessity.  We must stop al Qaeda before they can strike again.

“The second war, in Iraq, originated because of the alleged threat of weapons of mass destruction against America and our interests.  This was a war of choice.  After soundly defeating the Iraqi military in open battle, a new source of violence erupted there.  Sectarian religious violence with Shia and Sunni elements killing each other has overtaken our initial mission.  We are now working to prevent a full-scale civil war in that nation.

“So there we are.  Two conflicts.  Two wars.  The two should not be confused.  There are those who attempt to politically fuzz the two together, but the wars are truly separate and distinct.  Election year politics don’t change the black and white facts.”