Television broadcasters and political pundits are tripping all over themselves this Memorial Day weekend trying to force Republican presidential candidates to explain what they would or would not have done regarding invading Iraq if they knew then what they know now.

I know. It sounds like the title of a sad song that has so many versions it could be a political campaign speech.

The question was originally asked of former Florida governor and GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and in that one instance was a reasonable question since Jeb is the brother of former President George W. Bush who ordered the invasion. Basically, at that time in that place, the question really was, "do you approach these world situations the way your brother did?"

But since then the question has evolved into a mantra of sorts, and is being asked of just about all GOP candidates, who like Jeb Bush, are having an unnecessarily difficult time answering it. (I don't recall anyone asking Hillary Clinton about her stance in favor of the invasion, but then again, she probably wouldn't answer them anyway.)

Essentially, the politicians are being asked by broadcasters and pundits, whether, if they knew the (allegedly) true situation regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq prior to the invasion, would they have gone ahead with the successful military effort to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.

Frankly, as it has evolved, the question is irrelevant, and horribly uninformed. Answering it – or even asking it – merely highlights an abysmal absence of knowledge about what constitutes war fighting, especially the reasons we go to war. Rather than spending time remarking on the oceans of information the politicians and their tormentors DON'T know, I'll take this opportunity to expound on what they SHOULD know.

For starters there are two basic terms with which everyone involved in military matters should be intimately familiar; strategy and tactics. In brief, strategy refers to what you want to accomplish, and tactics are the means by which you do it.

In any fight, you determine strategy before you determine what tactics you will use, a concept that negates the question of whether the existence of WMDs dictated our actions relative to Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

Our strategy to thwart further attacks on the US homeland after the horrors of September 11, 2001 included the tactical decision to invade Iraq which was providing sanctuary to terrorists who fled the fighting in Afghanistan. The arms possessed by those terrorists or their sponsors were irrelevant at that point.

Here's why. In late 2002 then President George W. Bush determined that members of various Islamic extremist terrorist organizations, some whom had been associated with the Taliban that had just been vanquished in Afghanistan, had made their way to Iraq and with Saddam Hussein's permission were re-building their terrorist network.

Among them was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a member of Osama Bin Laden's inner circle who had been severely wounded in the fighting in Afghanistan. In Iraq he was hospitalized in Baghdad, right under Saddam Hussein's nose, and prior to the US invasion he was heavily involved in preparations for renewed terrorist activities, again with Saddam's acquiescence. 

The Real Purpose of Memorial Day
That is all the reason we needed to invade Iraq; case closed. If the president of the US avers that enemies who have attacked us and murdered our citizens will be "hunted down and smoked out," as Bush did with rousing approval from most Democrats and Republicans, then we should hunt them down, smoke them out, and kill them.

If the president also states that any country which provides sanctuary to our enemies will thus become our enemy, it shouldn't take a great stretch to decide whether to invade one of those countries when they clearly are not only providing sanctuary but are allowing our enemies to prepare for new attacks on us.

Tragically, we have come to a point in our nation's history where what should be relatively simple decisions have becoming overwhelmingly burdensome.
Rather than using the straightforward evidence that terrorists who escaped the fighting in Afghanistan were given respite and sanctuary in Iraq while they prepared for new attacks against us, as the only reason we needed to justify attacking Iraq, George W. Bush, the US Congress, and the United Nations - which should have no input on US defense and domestic policies - made the situation unbelievably complicated.

Bush dispatched Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN under the misguided belief that we needed agreement from a coalition of nations before we could aggressively defend ourselves. Powell also was tasked with convincing potential members of that coalition that not only were our enemies likely to attack us again, but that they had weapons which could and would be used on Iraq's neighbors as well.

Despite the assertions to the contrary from diplomats, politicians and bureaucrats, precious few of whom ever have to suffer the consequences of their mindless dictates on war fighting, we didn't need a coalition to engage and defeat our enemies. And whatever weapons those enemies may have possessed were a matter to be taken up by the war planners in deciding what tactics would be used to defeat them, not where and whether to fight them in the first place.

In truth, all this rehashing of an irrelevant issue is just cover for the fact that President Barack Hussein Obama pulled our troops out of Iraq after they won a smashing victory over terrorism, but before that country could adequately rebuild its government and security. Just like the US Congress did in 1974 when it abandoned South Vietnam.

Both times the defenseless populations that remained behind faced a virtual bloodbath of unrestrained slaughter.

The existence and possession of WMDs or any other type of weapon had no place in the decision to invade Iraq. The intent of the Iraqi government and the terrorists who found a haven in that country was all we needed as justification to go to war against them.

Anyone who doesn't understand that simple distinction has no business seeking the job of President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.