Expat Yank points out this excellent piece at Slate by Chirstopher Hitchens. It’s worth a full read, but here are a couple things that really stand out to me:
In 2002, even states like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were at least ostensibly expelling known al-Qaida members from their turf or else arresting them. Only Saddam’s Iraq–which did not reply to the Jordanian messages–was tolerating and encouraging the presence of men who were on the run from Afghanistan.
It is customary to dismiss evidence of this kind with a brisk and pseudo-knowing sneer about the “secular” nature of Saddam’s regime and thus its presumed incompatibility with theocratic fanatics.
Hitchens points out that the task of pouring through all the documents captured during and immediately after the initial invasion in 2003 is still going on. This is something that a lot of folks overlook.
Elements in the Bush administration are still highly reluctant to declassify and disclose much of this material, probably because it demonstrates yet again that our “intelligence” services knew less than nothing of what was happening in Iraq. But early yields have proved illuminating and will probably lead to a revision of the current complacent consensus, both on Saddam’s WMD plans and on his extensive contact with the region’s Islamic fanatics.
Getting to the bottom of things requires a lot of time. It’s certainly taking longer than we’d like, but if something big is released later this year and a lot of people claim it’s just being made up for the elections, ask yourself why those things weren’t made up in the fall of 2004. Maybe, just maybe, it’s possible that everything isn’t a big sham being put on by Chimpy Bushitler and the Big Oil.
For some reason, I have not recently been hearing that the war in Iraq is “a distraction from the fight against al-Qaida.” Perhaps this mantra became harder to chant after Zarqawi went to all the trouble to certify his gang as “al-Qaida in Mesopotamia” and to receive Bin Laden’s official franchise. Then again, if one wanted to argue that al-Qaida would not be in Iraq if we were not, one had to confront the fact that Zarqawi was actually there first.
Without a doubt, the level of terrorist violence in Iraq is directly tied to the presence of US and allied troops. Duh.
However, don’t overlook all the terrorist-like violence in Iraq that was going on before the invasion. Terrorist-like violence called “official policy”.
Leftie extremists like to say things like “I’m not saying Saddam was good. He wasn’t. But Bush is just as bad.” (Sometimes, depending on their dosages, they will say “But Bush is worse.”) Another common complaint is the Conservatives are stifling dissent and that anti-terrorism policy invades upon the privacy of US citizens.
These people obviously do not have even the slightest clue about the rule of Saddam Hussein.
Yes, it’s true that there are more foreign gangsters in Iraq today, but they are no longer living in government hospitality homes, and they are being killed at the rate of dozens every week. And, yes, it hasn’t yet been shown that any of them–except of course Zarqawi and his friends–were ideologically linked to the events of Sept. 11. But the intervention in Afghanistan was to make up for that atrocity. The intervention in Iraq was partly designed to forestall the next attack. Now I’m told that it has only made the jihadists more angry.
Great. Just great. Everything was peachy-keen until we went and made them “more angry”.
When I ask war critics what the alternative to fighting the terrorists and their supporters is, I always get a response that sounds basically like our actual policy that ran through Sept 10th, 2001. We see how well that worked.
On September 10th, 2001, they were angry enough to hijack planes and fly them into buildings full of innocent civilians. And it wasn’t just a spur of the moment, rash and heated decision by a couple of nutjobs. It was a carefully-planned and orchestrated operation that was many years in the making.
To tell the truth, I don’t think it’s going to matter how much angrier they get. I mean, does their anger dial go up to ’11’? At a certain point it’s hard to tell the difference between a ’10’ and an ’11’. How much difference is there between a real angry jihadist willing to blow himself up in order to kill Westerners and a real real angry jihadist willing to blow himself up in order to kill Westerners?