Thursday, March 29, 2007

Is Iraq Really the Central Front in the War on Terror?

55 Million Blogs. President Bush was bound to like one fo them.

Cyberspace was abuzz today about President Bush's citing of two Iraqi bloggers in his most recent defense of his Iraqi strategy.

Here's the story from the
Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) - To back up his point that pulling out of Iraq would be a disaster, President Bush has quoted opinions from the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top U.S. general in Iraq—and now, two bloggers from Baghdad.

Bush made a surprising reference to the blogosphere during a spirited defense of his war strategy on Wednesday.

"They have bloggers in Baghdad, just like we've got here," Bush told the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

Then he began to quote: "Displaced families are returning home, marketplaces are seeing more activity, stores that were long shuttered are now reopening. We feel safer about moving in the city now. Our people want to see this effort succeed."

His point was that Iraqi people are seeing signs of progress—and what better example of their unbridled expression than blogs.

They have bloggers in Egypt, too. But if those bloggers are critical of Islam or of Egyptian President Husni Mubarak they are sent to prison. But I digress.

Actually Iraq is a real beacon freedom and free expression in the Middle East. Now if only the Iraqi government and the American forces can bring a reasonable amount of peace and security, Iraq might become the success we all desire it to be. God knows the Iraqi people deserve it. But, once again, I digress.

If the President felt he should quote these two bloggers from Bagdad, I thought I might take a look at their blog. You need to know know that these Iraqi blogging brothers, Mohammed and Omar Fadhil, are part of
Pajamas Media. This tells you two things. First, they are quality writers with a quality product and second, they are on the conservative side of most issues.

This, finally, brings me to my point. I've always believed (and I still believe) that the Republican throw away line "Iraq is the central front in the war on terror" was just hyperbole to gather support for Bush's Adventures in Middle East Nation Building.

But in reading his blog, I discovered that Mohammad Fadhil has written one of the most intelligent and compelling arguments I've ever seen making a case for Iraq as the central front in the battle with al Qaeda. I urge you to read the entire post
The Real Front in the War on Terror. Below is an abridged version with my highlights of key points.

"When The Taliban regime in Afghanistan fell young men waited in lines to get a haircut and when Saddam fell barbers became targets."

My father offered this simple example during a discussion we had about war on terror the other day. Although the example is very simple but the idea behind it is deep and aims at identifying the change of the main battleground for war with terror.

I wanted to talk about this because recently we've been watching the debate in America about redeployment of troops and identifying the real front we must focus on.

I see that al-Qaeda and terrorists in general didn't hide their position in this respect—despite the fact that they still operate in many parts of the world, they are clearly redirecting most effort and resources to the war in Iraq.

There are greater examples than killing barbers of course so I'd like to include some more to remind those who try to naively oversimplify the issue in the context that the commanders of al-Qaeda are hiding in a cave in the mountains of Afghanistan or Pakistan far away from civilization.

Al-Qaeda and its supporters are using most of the capabilities of their propaganda machine to cover their effort in Iraq, and so is the case with financial resources.

Let's not forget recruiting networks that are discovered constantly in many European and Arab countries; we rarely, if ever, hear that those networks were sending recruits to Afghanistan because recruits are being sent to Iraq all the time.

Even more telling, some of the prominent lieutenants of al-Qaeda left Afghanistan to fight in Iraq. One example I remember was Omar al-Farouk who escaped from Bagram to be later captured in Basra!

Al-Qaeda itself boasts about the great "sacrifices" of more than 4,000 "martyrs" to emphasize the importance of the war here. And the hundreds of suicide bombers preferred to blow themselves up in Iraq than anywhere else should remind us that if al-Qaeda considers this the main war then why talk about redeployment?

But why Iraq became the main front?

Iraq can simply not be equated with Afghanistan which the bulk of al-Qaeda largely abandoned after few weeks of battles—that doesn't sound like al-Qaeda!

Iraq, weak after a war that toppled the regime but rich-relatively-with resources and scientific base is a greater temptation than Afghanistan, and at the same time the possibility of a democracy arising in Iraq posed a great threat to the ideology of caliph state. Therefore al-Qaeda and whoever is backing it directly or indirectly felt they had to move the front to Iraq instead of staying in Afghanistan.

Let's imagine that the world left Iraq alone before the country is able to defend itself and let it fall in the hands of extremists, what would happen then?

Can we compare the opium fields with the massive oilfields of Mesopotamia? Can we afford to leave these resources in the service of the terrorists?

The other point is scientific infrastructure, especially when it comes to military technology such infrastructure almost doesn't exist in Afghanistan while Saddam celebrated 17 years ago in launching a rocket to space. The same "accomplishment' Iran claimed to have made just days ago.

An Islamic state in Iraq whether to be led by al-Qaeda or one of the local extreme religious parties would be an enormous threat to the security of the region and the world and a turning point that might encourage fence-sitters to join the terrorists…the tide would be much more difficult to stop then.

It's true that what's happening in Iraq doesn't meet the ambitions of Iraqis or Americans and everyone admits that many mistakes were made.

But abandoning this front or failing to recognize its priority is a terrible mistake that can lead to disastrous consequences to all of us.

I have two important observations. First, none of this would have ever happened if President Bush hadn't invaded Iraq and then totally destabilized the region. If everything Mohammad Fadhil said is true, the blame belongs squarely at President Bush's doorstep.

Second, this illustrates how very complex the situation in really Iraq is. Now is not the time for simplistic schoolyard solutions. We cannot simply take our ball home and refuse to play, as the Democrats in Congress propose.

The fact the Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are building an exit strategy timetable based on nothing but whimsy, without consulting with our allies, without the support of, or even consultation with, General Petraeus and without any discussion with the government or people of Iraq, illustrates how disastrous this strategy might be.





Not Your Mama said...

Think you're missing some points here. Reid and Pelosi are not retarded...both of them know full well this bill is not going to walk.

That was never the point of the vote in the first place. The point is to force every member of congress to show their hand. We now know who is for ending this, who is not and possibly even more important down the road...who has to be/can be bribed.

And they've disarmed the moonbat element who were harassing people to the point of no one being able to get anything done. They showed them "this is the best we could push through and you see what happened to it".

Given the situation and people they had to work with, they did the best they possibly could. It sucks and they knew it would but they had no other logical choices.

What were their other options? Do nothing at all and simply hand over the money...yeah that would have gone over well. They could have tried a vote on a clean bill...that would have gotten them laughed out of town by the republicans and most of us have had quite enough of rightwing mockery. So they bent over backwards to get just enough votes to get everyones attention and force Bush to veto.

It's called punting and I'd say they did a darned fine job of it.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

I must agree with you, because any alternative to your explanation is terrifying.

Still, I believe the strategy is wrong headed and hurtful to both the people of Iraq, the region and to the United States.

We're letting out anger at President Bush (which he deserves) manifest itself in this horrific Iraq pull-out ploy.

Begin the right investigations and begin the impeachment if we cannot wait the 22 remaining months (and vigilante is sure we cannot). Get the new team in place and then fix Iraq with the full support of the military and our allies (and, maybe, just maybe, ask the people of Iraq what they want....... oh heck, why start now, we didn't ask before we invaded.... what do they matter, they are only Iraqis?).

Not Your Mama said...

Well, under more "normal" circumstances I'd say wait the 22 months. I think we're running an enormous risk if we do that with this administration, the potential for him to do much more damage is not insignificant. Hopefully that (impeachment) will get ratcheted up when he vetoes the bill.

Angry at him? Not especially, he didn't stage a coup. Voters put him where he is. I have to live with my anger towards the voters who did because I can't very well deport 50 million citizens or pass a law banning stupid can I?

I agree it's not a good bill. It's not a good thing that we've reached such an impasse this was the best that could be mustered.

I'm not far behind Vigilante on the "fresh out of words" sentiment.

Messenger said...

This bill just passed by Democrats is just a step forward. It rightfully sigmitizes the GOP as the war party. The party that is "slowly bleeding" our country. No one said we should be satisfied with this. The people are ahead of Congress on this.