Al Qaeda is now setting up networks throughout the Middle East and Africa amid terrorist hopes that it will succeed in duping Bush into committing US troops to a war in Iran.
Al Qaeda is a more dangerous enemy today than it has ever been before. It has suffered some setbacks since September 11, 2001: losing its state within a state in Afghanistan, having several of its top operatives killed, failing in its attempts to overthrow the governments of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. But thanks largely to Washington's eagerness to go into Iraq rather than concentrate on hunting down al Qaeda's leaders, the organization now has a solid base of operations in the badlands of Pakistan and an effective franchise in western Iraq.
Its reach has spread throughout the Muslim world, where it has developed a large cadre of operatives, and in Europe, where it can claim the support of some disenfranchised Muslim locals and members of the Arab and Asian diasporas. Osama bin Laden has mounted a successful propaganda campaign to make himself and his movement the primary symbols of Islamic resistance worldwide. His ideas now attract more followers than ever.
--Al Qaeda Strikes Back, Bruce Riedel, Forreign AffairsRiedel is verifiably correct. His paper echoes and expands an earlier US intel assessment that the Iraq war increases the threat of terrorism.
The classified assessment of the war's impact on terrorism came in a National Intelligence Estimate that represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government, an intelligence official said Sunday. The official, confirming accounts first published in Sunday's New York Times and Washington Post, spoke on condition of anonymity because the report is classified.
The report found that the war has helped create a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
--Intel: War Has Worsened Terror ThreatThe implications are astounding: Bush has been duped. His invasion and occupation of Iraq played into Bin Laden's hands. Bin Laden's goals are simple: "bait" the US into a "bleeding war[s]". His strategy is equally simple - "provoke and bait". Tragically, Bush eagerly took the bait while Iraqi civilians and US troops do the bleeding.
The findings are damning. Bush is clearly seen to be the fool, the idiot who committed his nation to a war that is better compared to the Soviet conflict with Afghanistan in the 1980s than with the US quagmire in Viet Nam. Bin Laden himself is said to have made the analogy.
Despite Bush's obvious and tragic failure, he and his NEOCON supporters will nevertheless cite both the Intel report and the Foreign Policy assessment as reasons the US must stay in Iraq - perhaps forever. Bush will claim that leaving Iraq, demoralized will "embolden" al Qaeda and allow it to focus on nearby enemies - Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.
Earlier the BBC had stated: "al-Qaeda is far more fluid and effective than the West's conventional response has suggested." Never an army, al Qaeda has been turned into a movement in reaction. The US occupation of Iraq is not merely the lightening rod, it is the perpetual al Qaeda poster boy. Bush has done Bin Laden a favor. Al Qaeda could not boast an Iraqi presence until the US attacked and invaded.
Earlier, it was clear: the GOP and Democrats would separate from the ink blot different "figures". The GOP will see reasons to stay put. The Democrats will see in the Bush failure compelling reasons to change course:
"Either we are going to be fighting this battle, this war overseas, or it's going to be right here in this country," Frist said on ABC's "This Week," echoing an argument that President Bush frequently makes.
Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., said in a statement that the assessment "should put the final nail in the coffin for President Bush's phony argument about the Iraq war."
--ABC News: Intel: War Has Worsened Terror ThreatBut Bush partisans will seize upon the following passage from Foreign Affairs to justiy compounding the crime, repeating the failed strategy:
Decisively defeating al Qaeda will be more difficult now than it would have been a few years ago. But it can still be done, if Washington and its partners implement a comprehensive strategy over several years, one focused on both attacking al Qaeda's leaders and ideas and altering the local conditions that allow them to thrive. Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before al Qaeda strikes the US homeland again.At this point, the American people will have to ask themselves: are Bush's dimming hopes of defeating a phantom menace worth risking the Soviet-style collapse of the US? Having repeatedly put good money on bad bets, are the American people ready to pony up yet again?
Despite having a majority in both houses, it is the Democrats who have the greater challenge. Bush is a lame duck. Unless he suspends the elections upon another terrorist attack, his utterly failed administration is history and good riddance.
There is some good news. Bill Moyers is back.
Yet I also believe there is a way forward that gives us our best chance to end the war responsibly while protecting our strategic interests, strengthening our security, and better positioning us to provide the long-term assistance Iraq will need for years to come.--Sen. Majority Leader, Harry Reid
This way forward is consistent with our military leaders are telling us, including General Petraeus -- who repeated again yesterday that this war can only be won politically, not militarily. Our path has five key components:
- First, immediately transition the US mission away from policing a civil war -- to training and equipping Iraqi security forces, protecting US forces and conducting targeted counter-terror operations.
- Second, begin the phased redeployment of our troops no later than October 1, 2007 with a goal of removing all combat forces by April 1, 2008, except for those carrying out the limited missions I just mentioned.
- Third, impose tangible, measurable and achievable benchmarks on the Iraqi government so that they will be held accountable for making progress on security, political reconciliation, and improving the lives of ordinary Iraqis who have suffered so much.
- Fourth, launch the kind of diplomatic, economic and political offensive that the president's strategy lacks, starting with a regional conference working toward a long-term framework for stability in the region.
- Fifth, rebuild our overburdened military, ensure that only battle ready troops are sent into battle, and give them the manpower and support they need to face the daunting challenges that lie ahead. Congressman Murtha pointed out last night that we are currently paying 126,000 independent contractors to supplement the work of our soldiers. Contractors that aren't held to the same standards or accountability our troops are, yet many earn more than our Secretary of Defense. This is unacceptable.
The history of the US with regard to the Middle East is one of blunder, tragedy and reverberations left over from the "cold war". Terrorism fed on US policy failures too numerous to count, most prominently its support of dictatorial states and puppet regimes, its proclivity to rule illegitimately by proxy.
Years later, then US National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski would boast:
"The secret operation was an excellent idea. Its effect was to draw the Russians into the Afghan trap." What was more important in the world view of history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire?"--Source
The history is consistent with recent charges by former CIA Director George Tenet who claims he took the fall for the Bushies: