September 23, 2006

Our Enemies' Indispensable Ally

No one who retains even the smallest vestige of sanity, and who is still capable of grasping facts and their significance, should have even a scintilla of doubt as to who the indispensable ally of our enemies is: it is, of course, the Bush administration and its foreign policy of viciously aggressive, non-defensive, immoral war and occupation.

Some people, those who are informed and perceptive, noticed this quite some time ago. Here is Peter Bergen, writing in the summer of 2004 (with further Bergen excerpts here):
In more than a dozen interviews, experts both within and outside the U.S. government laid out a stark analysis of how the war has hampered the campaign against Al Qaeda. Not only, they point out, did the war divert resources and attention away from Afghanistan, seriously damaging the prospects of capturing Al Qaeda leaders, but it has also opened a new front for terrorists in Iraq and created a new justification for attacking Westerners around the world. Perhaps most important, it has dramatically speeded up the process by which Al Qaeda the organization has morphed into a broad-based ideological movement -- a shift, in effect, from bin Laden to bin Ladenism. "If Osama believed in Christmas, this is what he'd want under his Christmas tree," one senior intelligence official told me. Another counterterrorism official suggests that Iraq might begin to resemble "Afghanistan 1996," a reference to the year that bin Laden seized on Afghanistan, a chaotic failed state, as his new base of operations.
What we have done in Iraq is what bin Laden could not have hoped for in his wildest dreams: We invaded an oil-rich Muslim nation in the heart of the Middle East, the very type of imperial adventure that bin Laden has long predicted was the United States' long-term goal in the region. We deposed the secular socialist Saddam, whom bin Laden has long despised, ignited Sunni and Shia fundamentalist fervor in Iraq, and have now provoked a "defensive" jihad that has galvanized jihad-minded Muslims around the world. It's hard to imagine a set of policies better designed to sabotage the war on terrorism.
It appears that reality has finally caught up even to those who are most resistant to it -- the U.S. intelligence agencies:
A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States," it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, "Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement," cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report "says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse," said one American intelligence official.


The estimate concludes that the radical Islamic movement has expanded from a core of Qaeda operatives and affiliated groups to include a new class of "self-generating" cells inspired by Al Qaeda’s leadership but without any direct connection to Osama bin Laden or his top lieutenants.


The broad judgments of the new intelligence estimate are consistent with assessments of global terrorist threats by American allies and independent terrorism experts.
It appears more certain than ever that an air assault on Iran will occur before Bush leaves office, and perhaps even before the November elections. The shocking immorality of such an attack, with or without nuclear weapons, will rank with the war crimes represented by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.

After such an attack on Iran, the Bush administration's work will be complete -- and they will have ushered in ungraspably destructive conflict on a global scale for decades to come.

To our nation's eternal shame, there is no serious opposition to the administration's plans, even at this fearfully late date. We have only one party: the War Party. I will have considerably more on this subject soon -- but given the pronouncements of the national Democrats that are already part of the public record, they will have no grounds whatsoever to criticize the coming attack on Iran. The full truth is considerably worse: the views of the national Democrats provide invaluable aid to the Bush administration, and to its horrifying plans. [And on the subject of Iraq and why the Democrats similarly offer no meaningful alternative there, see this essay.]

Peace and the supreme value of an individual human life have no representation in our national debate. With regard to the most crucial questions, there is no debate at all.

And so devastation, destruction and death on an ever-widening scale beckon to us all.