Iraq Has Distracted Us from Fight against al Qaeda (Sen. John Kerry)

Just last week we were reminded of the glaring reality that al Qaeda is regrouping and growing stronger in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The new NIE report had better be a long overdue wakeup call about the importance of fighting terrorism where the terrorists are -- in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Just as this administration took its eye off the ball after 9/11 and failed to capture or kill Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora when we had him surrounded, now the war in Iraq has diverted attention from the fight against those who attacked us on 9/11.

Our troops in Iraq have made us all proud, and they have done their job. Now it’s time for Iraqi politicians to stop squabbling and bring about the political solution necessary to end the violence there. No matter how much lip service the administration pays to taking the offensive on terrorism, we must be smarter and stronger in our hunt for the terrorists by recommitting to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and by having a smart strategy for diplomacy and redeployment in Iraq, denying extremists what has been their best recruiting tool.

On Wednesday I will chair a hearing in the Foreign Relations Committee to question Undersecretary for Political Affairs Nick Burns about the administration’s plan for Pakistan -- and help push the debate about how we can successfully reengage in the fight there.