Would the Enemy Follow Us Here if We Left Iraq?

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

Hysteria and Anti-Science In Conservative Attacks on Climate Change

While people try to evaluate the news media in terms of liberal versus conservative bias, the reality is far more complex. While some outlets like Fox consistently promote a party line, most news reports are biased by a variety of factors. One such factor is the desire to report controversy, even if there is little actual controversy. We saw this when the second IPCC report was released, and an AP reporter saw this as an opportunity to publicize the views of William Gray, a rare global warming sceptic in the scientific community.

Gray was quoted as attacking Al Gore, which is a common tactic for global warming sceptics. Although Al Gore is just someone who is publicizing the science, they realize that they will obtain more support from political partisans by attacking Gore as opposed to responding to the scientific research directly.

Gray’s views on climate change have been questioned in the past. The report does give some clue that Gray’s views are out of the mainstream as it concludes:

Kerry Emanuel, an MIT professor who had feuded with Gray over global warming, said Gray has wrongly “dug (his) heels in” even though there is ample evidence that the world is getting hotter.”

Gray argues that “a recent uptick in strong hurricanes is part of a multi-decade trend of alternating busy and slow periods related to ocean circulation patterns. Contrary to mainstream thinking, Gray believes ocean temperatures are going to drop in the next five to 10 years.”

At least we have a way of determining who is right as the ocean temperatures can be tracked over the next five to ten years. In the meantime, there is ample reason to research alternative energy sources and reduce carbon emissions beyond global warming. Becoming more independent of middle east oil wouldn’t be a bad thing even if it turns out that the claims on global warming are totally untrue.

The response to Gray’s criticism of Al Gore provides further insight into the anti-scientific views of the right wing. Even though Gray’s work has held up poorly in the past, several conservative bloggers are jumping onto this article as more proof to refute the scientific consensus. Rather than caring about the scientific findings, they pick and choose statements based upon whether they fit into their political views. We’ve also seen this before whenever other news reports came out supporting their view, regardless of how weak the arguments.

While conservatives repeat arguments such as Gray’s as fact, ignoring the considerable scientific criticism of Gray’s work, to liberals this presents an opportunity. The point is not to twist information to present arguments either way about climate change, but to determine what is actually happening so that we can respond to problems appropriately. Listening to the consensus of leading scientists in the field currently appears to be the best choice, but what the anti-science conservatives fail to realize is that testing of predictions is how improvements in scientific theories are made. If Gray is right and the ocean temperatures do fall, current theories on climate change will be revised, or even discarded if necessary. However, if ocean temperatures continue to rise, it is a safe bet that conservatives will continue to deny the science of climate change.

Reading the conservative attacks on science also demonstrates a number of other irrational arguments. One meme they attempt is to claim that global warming is a type of religion. I have already responded to that argument here, but to summarize the religious viewpoint is that expressed by the right in denying the science regardless of the evidence, while the liberal non-religious viewpoint is to accept the scientific consensus regardless of what we prefer to believe.

Another common conservative meme is to accuse liberals of hysteria, with this word occurring repeatedly in conservative writings. The true hysteria comes from the right, which exaggerates the action needed to reduce carbon emissions and describes it as a plot to virtually shut down our modern economies. The conservative strategy is to present a hysterical view of measures to combat global warming which will scare off many people who would find such distored solutions unthinkable. This tactic even led to the recent attacks on Al Gore’s energy use as they first attributed far more Draconian views to Gore than he has ever expressed, and then claimed he was a hypocrite for not following the views he actually does not hold. Ironically, many of the proposals have a distinct market approach which I’m surprised the right does not have a better understanding of, as these views are very similar to views on industrial pollution which many libertarians advocated even before the current climate change debate.

Second Report on Climate Chanage Released

The second of four reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released yesterday, with many scientists complaining that the findings were watered down by politicians.

“The science got hijacked by the political bureaucrats at the late stage of the game,” said John Walsh, of the University of Alaska Fairbanks who helped write a chapter on the polar regions. The San Francisco Sentinel posted a detailed summary of the findings of the report. The San Francisco Chronicle provides this briefer summary:

As global temperatures continue to climb, every continent in the world is vulnerable to severe shifts in weather patterns and rising sea levels that could lead to drought, food shortages, heat waves and disease, according to a report adopted Friday by an international body of scientists.

“No one of us will escape the impacts of climate change,” said Patricia Romero Lankao, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, speaking from Brussels, where the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is meeting.

Four decades of research from scientists around the world shows that the poorest societies in the arid regions of the world — the areas that have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions — are likely to be hardest hit. They lack the means to deal with water shortages from droughts and other natural disasters, she said.

But the wealthiest nations won’t be spared. People in cities will suffer from heat waves, flooding and other catastrophes brought about by disruption in climate patterns, said Romero Lankao, who contributed to the report.

The severity of the effects depends on how well nations control carbon dioxide and other gases being released to the atmosphere through the burning of coal, oil and natural gas and the clearing of forests…

The report recommends that nations adopt mitigation measures such as building sea walls and irrigation systems to deal with the unavoidable effects of global warming that are already happening. Nations should try to control global warming by controlling emissions through energy efficiency and green power, it said.

Continued in Hysteria and Anti-Science In Conservative Attacks on Climate Change