Nonplussed has a good post on the alleged shift of al Qaeda resources from Afghanistan to Iraq. He notes
It will intensify the fighting in Iraq which will result in even greater casualties for our soldiers. And I think it will make it impossible for the President to significantly disengage from Iraq before the 2004 election. Mr. Bush will be forced to stand for reelection in the heat of a war of his own choosing.
Agreed. If true, the shift of more fighters to Iraq will mean that US and Allied forces suffer more casualties. And every serviceman killed means fewer votes in November. Nonplussed also notes, however, that bin Laden could help solidify the administration’s claim that Iraq is the central front in the Global War on Terror, and that this could discount Democrats’ claims that Bush is delusional. (I’m paraphrasing, there.)
There is a real danger that a sustained show of strength could eventually morph into widespread popular support [for anti-US fighters]. But I don’t think Al Qaeda is necessarily perceived as a natural ally by the average Iraqi citizen. A rising death toll could as easily be blamed on the Al Qaeda outsiders as on the American outsiders who, after all, did topple Saddam.
Today’s anti-terrorism demonstrations in Baghdad clearly support this idea.
If AQ truly is shifting money and men from Afghanistan and Europe (!) to Iraq, it is playing to our strength. It’s when those rats are hiding in their holes and caves, and in with the orphans and students, that we have the most trouble. As the POTUS said, “Bring ’em on.”
And if Afghanistan, minus some money and terrorism training personnel, progesses more rapidly, that will help Bush and offset some of the damage that heightened resistance in Iraq could cause. The administration can point to Afghanistan and say, “See? It just takes time.”
Check out the Nonplussed post. In fact, check there regularly. He’s definitely on the other side of the aisle from me, but I recommend his site nonetheless.