Terrorist “safe havens”…good for America or bad?

I guess I thought the answer to this question would be obvious, but it isn’t terribly clear to everyone.

This was left on Donald Sensing’s “Going Big” in Iraq is last chance that I mentioned in yesterday’s Linkzookery as part of a cynical list of why we won’t leave Iraq:

2a) If the US leaves, Iraq will become a terrorist haven
2b) If the US leaves, the terrorist will follow us back to the US
(Of course these can’t both be true…

The ignorance of this is staggering. 2a appears to be almost certainly true. 2b isn’t nearly as sure, but it seems likely and certainly possible.

But what’s amazing is the assertion that they can’t both be true.

That’s astoundingly dumb. Even if you argue that the best way to combat terrorism is to hole up behind a protective isolationist wall, even if you believe that only goal in a Global War on Terror should be to prevent future 9/11 attacks, you must recognize that terrorists in the safe haven of Afghanistan planned and coordinated those very 9/11 attacks on America.

We can argue all day about how much damage scattering al Qaeda to the winds has caused their organization. Their loose network of affiliated groups and decentralized leadership makes them very difficult to destroy, and obviously they’re harder to track down when hiding than when they’re relaxing in the relatively open Taliban haven of Afghanistan. But that doesn’t mean that destroying the havens was the wrong thing to do, particularly if you subscribe to the theory that all we should be doing is making sure that 9/11 never happens again.

The truth is that many who say they supported the invasion of Afghanistan but are against the invasion of Iraq were not actually supportive of the invasion of Afghanistan at the time. I know several folks who claim to understand that invading Afghanistan was justified but don’t see what the invasion of Iraq has to do with the war against terrorism. They seem to have conveniently forgotten the arguments they had with me about the invasion of Afghanistan in September and October of 2001.

My guess is that, when it comes time for military action in Iran or Syria or Somalia, many of these same folks will be claiming that though they could understand why Afghanistan and Iraq had to be dealt with, they just don’t see why the latest campaign is necessary.

So many of the folks who say that they support certain methods of fighting terrorism but not the methods currently being employed, don’t really seem to support any methods at all.

Comments

  1. The truth is that many who say they supported the invasion of Afghanistan but are against the invasion of Iraq were not actually supportive of the invasion of Afghanistan at the time.’ Murdoc, you have to help me out here. I’m one of those people who fully supported smacking down the Taliban because they would not give up al Qaeda. Having been working in the Pentagon on 9/11, that was pretty clear and direct. However, are you under the illusion that we went into Iraq because of the terrorists who weren’t there? or because of the WMDs which weren’t there either? Come on, you’re smarter than this. Bush went into Iraq to establish a democracy that would florish and turn the Middle East into a garden. Had nothing to do with terrorism or WMDs. And you scare the crap out of me with this ‘when we go into Iran and Syria…’ Assuming you make the case that Iran and Syria are directly supporting Hammas and other groups, AND that those terrorist groups are attacking US personnel interests (outside of Iraq, let’s say for now), do you honestly propose that we have the capability right now? Or are these attacks planned for when we ‘win’ in Iraq and all the factions become docile as the Germans today? Dude. I’m all for combating terrorism, but there are other options than using brute military force on nation-states. Work smarter, not harder, and don’t force us into a repeat of the last three years.

  2. J: I’m not really arguing against what you’re saying (too much, anyway) but two points: 1) The quote of mine you used isn’t about whether going into Iraq was right or wrong, it’s about the fact that a lot of folks who say ‘I supported going into Afghanistan in 2001 but I didn’t support going into Iraq in 2003’ DIDN’T support going into Afghanistan in 2001. Sure, many many people did support Afghanistan and don’t support Iraq, and I can see some of their points. But what I was saying was that many who claim to be such people are NOT such people. I know several personally. They go on and on about how Afghanistan was justified but Iraq was not. Except that in 2001 they were going on and on about how Afghanistan was not justified. For those types, it’s just the silly game of claiming ‘NOW we’ve finally gone too far’ every time we do something. 2) ‘Bush went into Iraq to establish a democracy that would florish and turn the Middle East into a garden. Had nothing to do with terrorism or WMDs.’ Well, if I take ‘flourish’ and ‘garden’ as sarcastic rhetoric, I think the first sentence is right, but it’s not the whole reason. As for the second sentence, establishing a democratic nation more or less friendly to the US and creating an opportunity for individual freedom, personal gain, and a better lifestyle is a DIRECT ATTACK on the environment that allows terrorism and sympathy for terrorists to fester and grow. Not really an attack on the root cause of terrorism, but an attack on some of the things that allow terrorism to grow into a problem that threatens our way of life. Again, I’m not really arguing against what you’re saying with the two exceptions noted above. I think we’d probably disagree quite a bit on the details of how to go about doing what it is we think should be done, though.

  3. As usual, I see most of the arguments here come from 20/20 hindsight. ‘Reliable intelligence’? It sure seemed reliable at the time – everybody agreed on that! Even most of the politicians who say they didn’t now (and they’re on record – too bad.)

  4. I think people are getting way too caught up this ‘was it right? was it wrong?’ business. IMO, right now it doesn’t matter at all. Even if someone was to come up with the smoking gun for either side, it would accomplish nothing. Instead we should be working together to fix what is broken now. Then after that, anyone who wants to argue its justifications, or lack there of, can do it till they are blue in the face. It’s too bad most people’s pride gets in the way, they HAVE to be right and recognized as right before they will work with the other side to help stabalize a country and save lives, both Iraqi and whoever else is in Iraq.

  5. How on earth could America fight Syria and Iran when the American army cannot even contain insurgents in Iraq. Best just say to hell with losing face, and just get the heck out of there without more body bags coming home containing people who have died for nothing.

  6. Q: How does one ‘die for nothing?’ A: By leaving before finishing the work that person died for. ‘How on earth could America fight Syria and Iran when the American army cannot even contain insurgents in Iraq.’ Firstly I think you meant to put a question mark there, as it seems to be a question. Secondly, if you know anything about the military, you know a counter-insurgency war is completely different to a full-on war. Secondly, the US can and has contained the insurgents in Iraq. They could kill them all if they wanted to. But it would involve a lot of carnage and somebody has a weak stomach unfortunately. Nothing would be easier, if that’s what we really wanted to do. But that’s not the aim. The aim is to turn Iraq into a stable democracy, not just kill a bunch of nasty people. They’re not necessarily the same thing and you don’t go about them the same way. So yeah, the only way they can ‘die for nothing’ is if we give up now. Do you know anything about the Vietnam war? You might want to investigate that. The US was close to defeating the communists, then decided to just turn tail and run, in a disgusting display of selfishness. Millions of people died as a result in Vietnam, Cambodia and other Asian countries as the commies ran wild. If I were American I would be utterly ashamed of such behaviour and not want to replicate it.