Over the past few days, I’ve noticed more and more stories that seem to not only reflect a certain level of short-sightedness, but “push” that as a fair reflection of reality.
It — no surprise here — relates to the fighting in Iraq.
I have, since the first day of the invasion, thought of the fighting there as “the Iraq campaign of the War on Terror.” Just as Pearl Harbor did not result in us declaring war on Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese commander and architect of the attack, 9/11 did not result in us declaring Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda the ultimate foe.
Our struggle is with militant Islam, the strain of that faith obsessed with bringing the world to Allah — even by the sword. No, that’s not fair; the sword is their preferred manner, seeing glory — in both this world and the next — in killing and dying in their cause.
Of that strain, Al Qaeda has been the most successful faction. But it is not the only one.
Likewise, Osama Bin Laden arranged the most successful attacks against the United States, but he has not been the mastermind behind every terrorist move.
The overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 — and absolutely everything.
The myopic ones (as shown in this article) argue that Saddam had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, and only limited (if any) involvement with Al Qaeda prior to and not involving the attacks. They are absolutely correct, and not a single responsible person will argue with that. I can not recall a single statement by Bush or any top administration official tying Saddam to 9/11, and I have gone further — I have stated that I am convinced he had no involvement with or prior knowledge of the attacks. I base this on the simple fact of their success.
In cases like those attacks, operational security must be absolute. No one who might betray the secret — deliberately or accidentally — can be allowed to know of it. And Al Qaeda had absolutely no reason to share their plans with Saddam. Had he known, he might have leaked it — possibly as a ploy to gain favor with the West in hopes of getting the sanctions against him eased.
But that’s the short-sighted approach. It’s based on the notion that once Osama Bin Laden is dead or captured and Al Qaeda crushed, everything’s fine and hunky-dory and we can go back to the way things were as of September 10.
The greatest effect of 9/11 was that it brought home the fact that there are elements of militant Islam who are devoted to attacking us, killing us, and are ready, willing, and more than able to do so. And they are well enough versed in our ways to use them against us in devastatingly effective forms.
Saddam was not a part of that brand of militant Islam. He was a largely secular thug, a sociopathic dictator whose vision was somewhat limited to being a regional power and a major player. He supported them, though, with money and materiel and training.
What Saddam was, above all else, convenient.
He was a “perfect storm,” a confluence of factors, that made toppling him a tempting target. His removal — and replacing his regime — could serve as a great blow in the fight against militant Islam.
One, he was not very popular among his neighbors. He had launched wars of aggression against three of them (Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia). Very few tears would be shed over his downfall, and he couldn’t count on too many allies to stand by him.
Two, the legal groundwork was well established for the US to strike. He had repeatedly violated the terms of his 1991 surrender. He had refused to fully comply with the sanctions and resolutions he had agreed to after that surrender. He had fired upon US forces enforcing that surrender. And he had attempted to assassinate a former US president in retaliation for his defeat in the first Gulf War.
Three, Iraq is ideally located as a vanguard in the fight against militant Islam. It is in the heart of the Middle East, with borders with Saudi Arabia (the source of the worst of the ideologies), Iran, and Syria.
Four, Saddam’s largely-secular regime had, possibly, prepared the Iraqi people for a modern, secular, free nation-state. He had worked on creating his own “separation of church and state” that we might be able to adapt and help the Iraqi people create their own free, democratic government.
There are other reasons, but those are the big ones for me.
As far as I can tell, the anti-war side is attempting to not only win the argument today, but to go back and win the argument from several years ago.
I respect some people who oppose the war. Their arguments are ones I disagree with, but respect: that the execution of the war (and following occupation and rebuilding) was flawed, fatally so, and the only solution is to withdraw.
But that isn’t enough for the leading anti-war forces. They are insisting on a level of purity from their candidates, especially those who supported the Authorization of Use of Military Force. It’s gotten to the point where Hillary Clinton has to say that she essentially didn’t even read the AUMF before she voted in favor of it, and somehow thought that it was just another bluff, a demand that Saddam comply with resolutions without the “or else” that followed. That leaders renounce the years and years of statements, resolutions, findings, and other public deeds and words that Saddam was a threat, that Saddam needed to be removed, that Saddam had not truly given up his dreams of conquest, that he had not truly renounced his quest for weapons of mass destruction.
I have a habit — a bad one — of picking up ideas, phrases, and notions from a broad swath of sources, but forgetting where the dickens they came from. Somewhere, in some book I read years and years ago, someone uttered the phrase “Lord, at least give me enemies I can respect.”
Is that too much to ask?