For far too long, George Bush’s absurd arguments for war in Iraq were repeated by the lap dogs in the news media without serious questioning. It is good to see that Bush’s statements are receiving increased fact checking. McClatchy reviews Bush’s claim that we are fighting the terrorists in Iraq so that we don’t have to fight them here:
Is there any truth to ‘the enemy would follow us here?’
It’s become President Bush’s mantra, his main explanation for why he won’t withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq anytime soon.
In speech after speech, in statement after statement, Bush insists that “this is a war in which, if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here.”
The line, which Bush repeated Wednesday in a speech to troops at California’s Fort Irwin, suggests a chilling picture of warfare on American streets.
But is it true?
Military and diplomatic analysts say it isn’t. They accuse Bush of exaggerating the threat that enemy forces in Iraq pose to the U.S. mainland.
“The president is using a primitive, inarticulate argument that leaves him open to criticism and caricature,” said James Jay Carafano, a homeland security and counterterrorism expert for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy organization. “It’s a poor choice of words that doesn’t convey the essence of the problem – that walking away from a problem doesn’t solve anything.”
U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic experts in Bush’s own government say the violence in Iraq is primarily a struggle for power between Shiite and Sunni Muslim Iraqis seeking to dominate their society, not a crusade by radical Sunni jihadists bent on carrying the battle to the United States…
James Lewis, a U.S. foreign policy analyst at CSIS, called Bush’s assertion oversimplistic, but added that there’s a slight chance a few enemy combatants could make their way to the United States after a U.S. troop withdrawal.
“There’s a grain of truth in Bush saying it’s better to fight them there rather than here, but it’s also overstated,” Lewis said. “It’s not like there’s going to be gun battles in the United States.”
Daniel Benjamin, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at The Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank, agreed.
“There are very few foreign fighters who are going to be leaving the area because they don’t have the skills or languages that would give them access to the United States,” said Benjamin, who served as the National Security Council’s director for transnational threats from 1998 to 1999. “I’m not saying events in Iraq aren’t going to embolden jihadists. But I think the president’s formulations call for a leap of faith.”
“The war in Iraq isn’t preventing terrorist attacks on America,” said one U.S. intelligence official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he’s contradicting the president and other top officials. “If anything, that – along with the way we’ve been treating terrorist suspects – may be inspiring more Muslims to think of us as the enemy.”
The last line presents the ultimate problem. As we cannot kill every potential terrorist, the real battle is one for the hearts and minds of those who are more moderate. Rather than winning them over, the war has led to radicalizing many and turning more Muslims against the United States. As Saudi and Israeli studies showed that it was opposition to the war which radicalized those fighting American troops. The manner in which the war has fueled terrorism and increased our risk has been discussed in several previous posts.
Related Posts on Terrorism:
US Military Jails Turned Into Terrror Training Camps
The Culture of Fear Undermines America
Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve To Lead Her Party
Al Qaeda Regaining Power
Thought Process On On American Foreign Policy
Conservatives Join Radical Muslims in Hating Our Freedoms
Thanks to Bush We Are At Increased Risk of Terrorist Attack
Kerry Was Right on Terrorism
Do You Want the Terrorists to Win? (An on-line quiz–see how you score)
Bush Blames al Qaeda for Violence in Iraq
Downing Steet Paper: Military Action in Iraq and Afghanistan Served as Recruiting Sergeant For Terrorist Groups
Rice Ignored Additional Warnings About al Qaeda Threat
UN Report Finds That Iraq War Causing Increase in Islamic Extremism
Condi Repeats Her Lie on Receiving al Qaeda Plan
Keith Olbermann: Bush Did Not Try to Fight Terrorism Before 911
More Studies Verify That Bush Has Increased Our Risk From Terrorism
Bush Flip Flops Again on Capturing bin Laden
What the Bush Administration Should Be Doing to Keep Americans Safe
Michael Hirsh Questions Clarity of Bush’s Words and Policies on Terrorism
Setting The Record Straight On Fighting Terrorism
Chief of Strategic Planning Echos John Kerry on Terrorism
Bill Clinton’s Record Against Terrorism
Declaring Victory Over Terrorism To Reduce The Threat
Democrats: The Real Anti-Terrorists
The Spillover Effects of the Iraqi Civil War
New York Times Exposes Bush Hokum on Homeland Security
George Will: Kerry Had a Point on Terrorism
Bush and Cheney’s Reign of Error
Kerry Was Right On Terrorism