As the war in Iraq lingers and the list of American soldiers killed lengthens there is evidence that the criticism about President Bush’s justification for going to war and the volatile aftermath of the war is beginning to erode his political support. The president’s poll numbers show signs of slipping and Democratic candidates hoping to unseat the president are now coming at him after initially offering everything from lukewarm to hearty endorsements for military action.

Even the deaths of Saddam Hussein’s sons, Odai and Qusai, a huge victory for the American intelligence community and the Special Forces as well as a key component in ending the ambush attacks on U.S. troops, have not quelled the criticism. The verbal attacks against Bush and the war effort in this latest development have included arguments ranging from the theory that the sons may have provided information about their father’s whereabouts to the assertion that killing them was barbaric.

What would Bush’s critics be saying today if, instead of killing Hussein’s sons, American forces had allowed the standoff with the brothers and their band of supporters to continue until they attacked our soldiers, inflicted massive casualties on American forces and escaped?

The criticism over the carefully targeted elimination of the Hussein brothers shows how absurd Bush’s opponents have become in their effort to discredit his leadership. Does anyone really think that Odai and Qusai would have led us to their father? It’s equally preposterous to think they would have allowed themselves to be taken alive after an intense firefight that lasted six hours.

In any military campaign, particularly one as complex as this, where we are fighting a war against groups engaged in terrorism and not necessarily against specific countries, there will always be issues subject to critique and second-guessing. However, there is no doubt in my mind, or evidently in those of the military strategists, that killing Odai and Qusai was the right thing to do. Let’s hope Saddam will soon be relegated to the same fate. For many reasons, not the least of which is to assure the people of Iraq that Saddam is not coming back, there must be finality to the Hussein regime.

Asking questions of our government is not only a right of being an American, but it can also be part of exercising citizenship in a healthy, free society. However, as we have seen in previous wars, some critiques of military decisions can cross a line that is inappropriate and dangerous to both national security and to our military personnel by encouraging more attacks and undermining our nation’s resolve to stay the course.

The rhetoric of some war naysayers seems to me to be approaching that level. And, unfortunately, as we see by this latest example of unreasonable rhetoric over the deaths of Saddam’s sons, the most vocal and harshest critics are most certainly more focused on taking down a popular president than taking down enemies of our nation.

Criticism of the policies of our government is a cherished right, but there is a line that should not be crossed. I hope Bush’s critics quickly discover where it is.

”’Greg Heyman is Communications Director for the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society. For information or comments contact: Gary Palmer, Alabama Policy Institute, 402 Office Park Drive, Suite 300, Birmingham, Alabama 35223, (205) 870-9900, e-mail:”’ mailto:garyp@alabamapolicy.org

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