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A few thoughts on OBL
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, September 08, 2007

From Josh Marshall and, in this case in particular his aptly named "Talking Points Memo", this paragraph:
As I skimmed the transcript of the new bin Laden tape with its discussion of global warming, subprime credit woes, Noam Chomsky, Richard Perle, the low tax nirvana of Islam and a bunch of other stuff, I could not help feeling sad again about how we gave this joker a new lease on life by invading Iraq.
I always love it when absolute nonsense becomes conventional wisdom (and for our guests who seem unable to grasp sarcasm, yes, I'm being sarcastic).

Because, of course, it gets us here:
If my predictive powers are still working right, I'm sure I'll catch flack for taking such a mocking attitude toward this man who has so much American blood on his hands. But this, I think, is only the flip side of the vaunted perch we insist on giving him, a insistence that is a paradoxical part of Bushism. They are tacit partners in creating the world in which we now live.
[As an ironic aside, previous to this paragraph, Marshall talks about the incoherence of "9th tier bloggers" when talking about this.]

Anyway, here we again have one of the favored assumptions of the left - that had we just continued whatever we were doing at the time and avoided Iraq, OBL was ours for the taking.

Yet if you read what intelligence experts and others have said since, you find out we really had no idea where he was. None. There were lots of rumors. But few if any facts.

Yet one of the most cherished beliefs on the left seems to be that our "diversion" in Iraq somehow let a man whose location was unknown "slip" from our grasp.

Oh and I liked this reaction from "Lawyers, Guns and Money":
While we're on the subject of zombies, it's great to see once again that wingnuts are allowing Osama bin Laden to get inside their heads.
Of course, one of the "wingnuts" links was to the QandO post yesterday about the transcript.

Frankly, I almost put yesterday's post under the heading of "humor", but decided against it at the last moment.

But I'd rebut LGM with the point that if OBL has again crawled in the head of the right, he's never left the heads of the left - see Josh Marshall et. al.

I mean we're talking about a guy with a fake beard here (or so many believe). How pathetic is that?
 
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You just don’t get it. Not only did Iraq take massive resources away from counter-terrorism and the ability to stabilize Afghanistan, but it gave al qaeda a major recruitment boost, and the ability to bleed the US for awhile (in money, prestige, moral status, etc.) at virtually no cost to itself. The "al qaeda in Iraq" people are almost all volunteers who otherwise would not have been involved in al qaeda. This was a major gift to Bin Laden, which is why it is destined to go down in history as one of the most audacious foreign policy fiascos in history.

The only good news is that I note that Charles Krauthammer’s recent column is almost in complete agreement with my recent arguments about partition of Iraq being the only way to extricate ourselves from Iraq and not have some kind of bloodbath. Krauthammer of course still thinks it was worth the price — I disagree. But the fact that an anti-interventionist like myself and a neo-conservative hawk like Krauthammer sees the way to deal with Iraq in the same light suggests some clarity on how to get out of this quagmire. But have no doubt, Iraq benefited Iran and Bin Laden (and in Osama’s most vivid fantasies we’d do him the added favor of attacking Iran), and hurt American national interests and did severe damage to Iraq. I hope we can get out of this without an Iraqi bloodbath, but Osama is laughing and confident, thanks to our missteps. Let’s make sure we learn from them.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Please, McQ...

MK (and now Erb) doesn’t want anyone making fun of OBL. We’re only allowed to display frothing and rage at his environmental and tax policy statements.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Dr. Erb,
You just don’t get it. Not only did Iraq take massive resources away from counter-terrorism and the ability to stabilize Afghanistan,
In my opinion this is complete nonsense. We were never going to put 150,000+ U.S. troops into Afghanistan. The main resources used for worldwide counter-terrorism involve intelligence not military force. The U.S. is perfectly capable of fighting a war in Iraq, while still devoting a major intelligence effort to counter Al Qaeda in other areas.
but it gave al qaeda a major recruitment boost
This is a familiar left-wing refrain but it is just plain meaningless as an argument. Fighting any enemy usually inspires that enemy and its sympathizers to recruit and fight harder.
the ability to bleed the US for awhile (in money, prestige, moral status, etc.) at virtually no cost to itself.
Again, ridiculous. It is difficult to fully assess the impact of the war on Al Qaeda. But unlike what most on the left seem to think, experienced leaders and hardened veteran fighters are not easily replaced by terrorist organizations. Raw fanatics who might be inspired to fight in Iraq, do not equal the long-time leaders and experienced fighters that have been eliminated.
This was a major gift to Bin Laden
This is a silly as the argument that Iran is somehow happy to have the U.S. military next door in Iraq. What would be a major gift to Bin Laden, and to Iran for that matter, is for the U.S. to declare defeat and withdraw.
which is why it is destined to go down in history as one of the most audacious foreign policy fiascos in history.
It is way too early to make any assessment of how the Iraq War will go down in history, especially given that it is still in progress. It is quite possible that there will be a U.S. military presence of some level in Iraq for another 10+ years.
 
Written By: DavidC
URL: http://
Thanks, DavidC, you made most of the points I was about to make.
What would be a major gift to Bin Laden, and to Iran for that matter, is for the U.S. to declare defeat and withdraw.
And, there in a nutshell, is the point most of those originally opposed to the war refuse to face. Bin Laden basically said this in his video. If fits the culture he comes from, which respects strength over just about anything else.

It also matches our experience in the Middle East in the last few decades. Our unwillingness to use our strength after Iran in 1979, Somalia in the early 1990’s, Beirut in the 1980s, etc., on top of Vietnam, made it an article of faith among fanatics that our strength was meaningless. They became completely convinced that we could not absorb any signficant losses, while they could lose tens of thousands without faltering. They continued to ramp up attacks until they killed thousands on our own ground. This is the legacy we got from those who counseled restraint and withdrawal.

Withdrawal now would boost the forces of bin Laden and his fellow fanatics greater than folks like Dr. Erb are apparently able to grasp. It would tell them them that all that is required for their victory is perserverance. They would continue to push for imposition of control of territory, probably in Afghanistan and Pakistan next, and any threats we make to resist them would properly be dismissed as blustering, because they know it would be at least a decade or two before we would ever intercede on a large scale in the Middle East again.

And I don’t know about Dr. Erb, but that last goal is so devoutly desired by many leftists that they will pay any price to see it come to pass. They are so convinced of the inherent wrongness of the United States that the humbling of this nation, and particularly the administration that currently leads it, is not just a goal, but a primary goal.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
The ramblings, supposedly of bin Ladin (I bet they were written by someone else), talk about some low tax rate as a Muslim.

How much in taxes would a homeless unemployed goatherder in the US have to pay? He might qualify for a tax credit and actually make out better than his low tax rate as a Muslim. Certainly, there are other benefits the Democrats would make sure he could take advantage of in our welfare system.

bin Ladin, denounce Islam, which imposes a regressive tax system on you! Become an American!
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Bruce:

I think your last sentence gets to the bare essential of the matter. I’d been reading some analysis here and there this morning gleaned from various people in Egypt and the region in general which suggests he’s isolated and not in command of al Qaeda in the sense of making plans and issuing marching orders.

Even the fact that he seems to be only able to manage a communique once every few years suggests he’s pretty pathetic in terms of being the driving force of anything.

That’s not to say I think we ought to "stay the course" in Iraq (I don’t, any longer), but I also agree it was never about OBL. The Afghanistan expedition isolated him and now, it appears, he’s marginal at best but trying to put a good face on it. All dressed up and nowhere to go.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
I am puzzled as to how invading Iraq gives AQ a major recruitment boost, but invading Afghanistan seems to have little or no effect, according to some.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I don’t know for sure if it is intentional or not, but assuming OBL is not a moron, by parroting the arguments of the left, he is taking sides in our political divisions, and by doing so, obviously attempting to affect outcomes.

So ask yourself, assuming OBL knows he is, to say the least, unpopular in America, which side of the division is he supporting by taking a side?

Hint: The friend of my enemy is my enemy.

Here’s another hint, during the 2004 political cycle, our intelligence concluded that AQ was trying to influence America’s politics in favor of GWB and the Republicans.
Ron Suskind noted that the CIA analysis of the video led them to the consensus view that the tape was designed strategically to help President Bush win reelection in 2004. Deputy CIA director John E. McLaughlin noted at one meeting, "Bin Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the President." Suskind quoted Jami Miscik, CIA deputy associate director for intelligence and Alan Premel former DCI Task Force supervisor, as saying "Certainly, he would want Bush to keep doing what he’s doing for a few more years."[2]
.
.
.
.
.
Anyway, given the upcoming Petraeus testimony, the "Bush Report" (ala Dick Durbin) and the general Congressional debate, whose side do you think it helps if an OBL vid is aired?


Congratulations, you have correctly identified who OBL is going to help, but strangely forgot to ask who he wants to help.
Why?
Were you asking why this would work to the advantage of the Republicans, or why OBL supports the Republicans?

I think the latter question is the most important.
I am puzzled as to how invading Iraq gives AQ a major recruitment boost, but invading Afghanistan seems to have little or no effect, according to some.
The vast majority of peoples of the world, Muslim or not, knew that the US was clearly justified in invaded the nation that supported and harbored the people that directly attacked the United States. So it did not help recruiting efforts nearly as much as our invasion of a nation that had NOT atttacked us. Iraq was a gift to AQ, and/or Iran.

We are fighting AQ in Iraq, but these elements of AQ simply did not exist prior to the invasion of Iraq. So yes, Iraq IS a front in the WOT, but a purely manufactured front.

Cap

 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
I was going to question the conventional wisdom of a recruiting boost as well.

Maybe short term those inclined got all het up and tromped off to Syria to get over the border in to Iraq to fight us, but long term?

The idea that war *must* result in yet another generation of haters is a matter of faith. Belief without evidence. In fact, without war there seems to be no trouble recruiting for Al Qaida or similar groups.

Why do we assume that whatever happens in the world happens because of something that *we* did?

Why can’t it be the fault of the people doing it? Why is the problem of Islamic extremism rampant in Indonesia? Are we at war with Indonesia?

And we *left* Somalia without ever doing much of anything, so that’s just a dandy, non-extreme place now, right? It’s just mellowing out as we watch.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
I think it is undeniable that the new OBL tape proves that Al Qaeda is more powerful and dangerous than ever before.

Historians will ponder long and hard, why oh why didn’t the US leave Saddam in charge of Iraq? You can never defeat enemies by actually fighting them!

btw,
So ask yourself, assuming OBL knows he is, to say the least, unpopular in America, which side of the division is he supporting by taking a side?
Does this mean when he says we should become Muslims, he’s really a Christian just trying to make Islam look bad? Talk about Mission Accomplished!
 
Written By: abw
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
We are fighting AQ in Iraq, but these elements of AQ simply did not exist prior to the invasion of Iraq. So yes, Iraq IS a front in the WOT, but a purely manufactured front.
They sure did exist, but they just weren’t in Iraq.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I think it is undeniable that the new OBL tape proves that Al Qaeda is more powerful and dangerous than ever before.
Really? It has proven two things to me:

1) they can produce a tape, and

2) Osama looks pretty funny in a fake beard
Historians will ponder long and hard, why oh why didn’t the US leave Saddam in charge of Iraq? You can never defeat enemies by actually fighting them!
Weren’t those Hitler’s last words? Or Tojo’s?
Does this mean when he says we should become Muslims, he’s really a Christian just trying to make Islam look bad? Talk about Mission Accomplished!
Wha ...

Talk about incoherent!
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Why do we assume that whatever happens in the world happens because of something that *we* did?
In the case of Afghanistan, it is irrelevant, even if it were determined that it would increase recruitment for AQ, it was justified, even in the eyes of most of the world. Even if it were not met with the world’s approval, it was still justified.

Iraq is far more nebulous as to the justification, and was an easy recruitment for AQ.

AQ had indeed predicted that we would do something like Iraq, and many people, myself included, believe this played right into their hands.
The idea that war *must* result in yet another generation of haters is a matter of faith. Belief without evidence.
Considering IISS reports and CIA reports that the Iraq war has assisted with recruitment, and that Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for terrorists, I think it would be article of faith to suggest the opposite.
They sure did exist, but they just weren’t in Iraq.
Some foreign AQ entered Iraq, but many Iraqi’s, who were not Al Alqaeda before joined them, so no, THESE AQ members did not exist as AQ members before the invasion.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Iraq was a prime recruitment tool for AQ for 10 long years. Effective, powerful recruitment. It was a rally cry for how evil we were, that we were killing all those Iraqi babies from pure meanness as we insisted that sanctions be enforced against the will of most of the world.

As for justification for war...

I think it’s a comfortable lie we tell ourselves. The people of Afghanistan no more attacked us than did the people of Iraq. There’s nothing about justification that says we must do something we are justified to do. It may still be against our interests to act.

We were justified in attacking Iraq, most certainly we were. The world agreed with us about that, at least in theory. In practice people and nations didn’t like so much what they’d approved of before hand because memories are short and resolution shorter still.

The end question is, are we as a sovereign nation allowed to protect ourselves in a pro-active manner?

We can argue about whether or not Iraq was a good strategic move but the essential question really is if a sovereign nation has a right to protect itself or only the right to retaliate.

Lately I’ve found myself responding to the claim that this or that war was justified most explicitly because it was retaliation. Retaliation for Pearl Harbor. Retaliation for whatever attack on us that was made. Germany was sinking our shipping... is that what made it okay to attack Germany?

Vengence, or retaliation, seems the most likely thing to result in never ending cycles of violence and escalation. It’s the most base emotion and relies on emotional responses, hatred and anger.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Lately I’ve found myself responding to the claim that this or that war was justified most explicitly because it was retaliation. Retaliation for Pearl Harbor. Retaliation for whatever attack on us that was made. Germany was sinking our shipping... is that what made it okay to attack Germany?
Japan declared war on the US about 3 hours after Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war on the US later the same day.

We were at war whether we wanted to be or not.

Comparing that to the war of choice in Iraq is just absolutely ridiculous.
We can argue about whether or not Iraq was a good strategic move but the essential question really is if a sovereign nation has a right to protect itself or only the right to retaliate.
We can argue, but if the wrong side of this argument prevails, then any and all military invasions can be justified using our own logic.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Germany was sinking our shipping... is that what made it okay to attack Germany?
If you meant to move from WW2 Japan to WW1 Germany, again, it was a bit more consequential than sinking our shipping. Germany declared unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic, clear acts of war, and they knew it, as the previous initiation of unrestricted submarine warfare in this region was reversed over objections from US (and a desire not to provoke a war with the US).
In the note the Bernstorff announced a re-opened German policy of unrestricted submarine warfare (initially introduced and then rapidly abandoned in 1916 owing to U.S. protests), to take effect the day following the date of the note (i.e. 1 February 1917). The German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg spoke before the Reichstag on the same day to explain the reasons for the policy.
The US formally declared war two months later.



 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Yet one of the most cherished beliefs on the left seems to be that our "diversion" in Iraq somehow let a man whose location was unknown "slip" from our grasp.

Well, this point has actually been argued by experts who can hardly be considered liberal. It just supports our belief on the Left that Bush is an idiot, which is why we’re so quick to adopt it. Doesn’t make it any less true.

 
Written By: Xanthippas
URL: http://threewisemen.blogspot.com
"...any and all military invasions can be justified using our own logic."

True.

Except that I believe that "justification" is a lie. You’re the one figuring that justification matters so very much.

Nor do I think we were wrong to fight Germany or Japan. But the arguments I hear about why those were "good" wars and this is bad is all about justification. We were "justified" in attacking Afghanistan because of 9-11, just as we were "justified" in attacking Japan because of Pearl Harbor.

I don’t buy it. We were right to do both those things but not because of Pearl Harbor or 9-11. All Pearl Harbor or 9-11 did was bring it home and enrage enough of our population that we were able to act.

And, besides, if it’s always right to respond to a declaration of war... well, Bin Laden declared war on us didn’t he. Very formally. Almost pompously.

Our problem is that Bin Laden and Al Qaida are not a State. We have every right to do what we feel we must to protect ourselves from people who have demonstrated the ability and will to attack us effectively. And the fact that we don’t face a foe who is helpfully confined to some lines on a map doesn’t take away our right to do so. So we have this nebulous thing called a War on Terror, because we have to call it something.

Iran is probably the only actual old-fashioned State actor with which we might possibly (but I bet we won’t) go to war. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan fit that pattern, that well worn Historic pattern. The world has changed. The ability for non-State actors to wage war is modern and technological. It didn’t exist before.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
In a related story, presidential candidate John Edwards reacted quickly to Bin Laden’s denunciation of capitalism. Cancelling an appointment with his beautician, Edwards called a press conference. "Ladies and gentlemen," he told reporters, "I think I’ve found my running mate!"
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
And, besides, if it’s always right to respond to a declaration of war... well, Bin Laden declared war on us didn’t he. Very formally. Almost pompously.
As you noted, OBL and AQ are not a state, and only a state can declare war. OBL declared his intention to murder Americans.

When OBL was protected and supported by a state, that state became a party to the declaration of criminal intent, making it a defacto declaration of war by a state player.
Except that I believe that "justification" is a lie. You’re the one figuring that justification matters so very much.
Are you arguing that justification is irrelevant, that you may do anything that you can get away with?

I suppose this is true, but it is certainly not civilized.
We have every right to do what we feel we must to protect ourselves from people who have demonstrated the ability and will to attack us effectively. And the fact that we don’t face a foe who is helpfully confined to some lines on a map doesn’t take away our right to do so.
There are laws, even across borders, that apply to groups like AQ. We do have the right to defend ourselves from such groups, and the ability to take the fight to them, as it were.

States who refuse to take action within their borders, or allow us or the international community to take action against such criminals can endanger their own soveriegnty. Not that we should or would invade and occupy entire nations, but we would be (uh oh, that word again) justified in violating their sovereignty to respond to direct threats on OUR soveriegnty.

None of this has anything to do with Iraq, which was neither a party to threatening our security or soveriegnty, not had it attacked the US or given STATE support or refuge to those who had.

The Bush administration DID justify the Iraq invasion, they did with legal interpretations of the UN resolutions that every country in the United Nations except the UK considered to be invalid interpretations. But I guess this goes back to the reality that a player can do anything it can get away with.

I am concerned about how we are going to react when other nations decide to use this kind of justification and we’ll have no standing to argue against it.

We are the leader of the world, we set the tone, we set the precendents, and this is going to be a precedent that could lead to some very bad situations.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
In a related story, presidential candidate John Edwards reacted quickly to Bin Laden’s denunciation of capitalism. Cancelling an appointment with his beautician, Edwards called a press conference. "Ladies and gentlemen," he told reporters, "I think I’ve found my running mate!"
Hilarious, as OBL attempts to affect our politics, you play right along.

And who’s helping AQ?

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
"Are you arguing that justification is irrelevant, that you may do anything that you can get away with?"

I’m arguing that justification is irrelevant, *BECAUSE* justification is almost always put in terms of some imposed and arbitrary standard the same sort of way that people use the term "legal" or "illegal." Such as deciding, by virtue of a dictionary, that a non-State actor can not declare nor wage war.

Why not? When is an organization not a State and when is an organization a State? Why do lines drawn in crayon by some drunk fellow after WW1 or WW2 make a State? Why does an organization with the ability to act politically and violently to promote its policies not count as a State?

Just as "legal" doesn’t make something right. Justification does not make something right and most certainly doesn’t make something *smart*.

A very good example... if Bin Laden is in Pakistan we might be *justified* in going in after him with a military strike force. But justified or not, it would be against our interests to do so. That we’d be justified is irrelevant compared to other considerations.

As a State we *may* do anything we can get away with doing. Why does this mean that we’d be compelled to do anything that we can get away with doing?

Sort of like, if drugs were legal we should all take them?
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Anyway, here we again have one of the favored assumptions of the left - that had we just continued whatever we were doing at the time and avoided Iraq, OBL was ours for the taking.

Yet if you read what intelligence experts and others have said since, you find out we really had no idea where he was. None. There were lots of rumors. But few if any facts.

Yet one of the most cherished beliefs on the left seems to be that our "diversion" in Iraq somehow let a man whose location was unknown "slip" from our grasp.
You know how many links I could find from people in 2002 and 2003 saying they believed OBL was in Pakistan? Why would you say something like this, Q? Don’t you have any idea how easily this could be proven embarrassingly wrong?

Furthermore, have you noticed that the recent thwarted attacks in Germany were masterminded in Pakistan? I mean, what will it take for you to get the message? Pakistanis sent from Pakistan executing US citizens in Times Square?

I know that the mission in Iraq is really important to the US military’s prestige and all. Really, I do. We can’t withdraw. We never withdraw. Fight to the last drop of blood and all that. Or else civilization perishes. Right. Sure.

But when the next terrorist attack, masterminded from Pakistan, hits US soil, those insisting we tie 90% of our military resources down in Iraq are going to have their judgment seriously called into question.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
A very good example... if Bin Laden is in Pakistan we might be *justified* in going in after him with a military strike force. But justified or not, it would be against our interests to do so. That we’d be justified is irrelevant compared to other considerations.
Amazing. Simply amazing.

You’re the one lambasting liberals everywhere for arguing that it’s against our interests to indefinitely pursue a dead-end counterinsurgency in a peripheral nation while neglecting the rest of the GWOT...

but you think sending one lousy strike force against OBL in Pakistan is against our interests? You know, the guy .... who’s... i don’t know... for the love of god, the leader of Al-Quieda??

Where are the right-wingers to call you a traitor? Seriously!

I mean, the extent to which you go out of your way to justify White House behavior, whatever it happens to be, is amazing. It has nothing to do with hawkishness, because no GWOT hawk in his right mind would say what you said. You’re using a liberal counterproductivity argument in the only imaginable place it doesn’t apply. You really do just unconditionally paint whatever we’re currently doing in the GWOT as the right thing, don’t you?

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"You’re the one lambasting liberals everywhere for arguing that it’s against our interests to indefinitely pursue a dead-end counterinsurgency in a peripheral nation while neglecting the rest of the GWOT..."



You’re, apparently, the one insisting that we take unilateral actions that utterly disregard the sovereignty of nations and will most certainly play very *very* badly among middle eastern nations other than Pakistan while utterly destabilizing a nuclear power just to get, for the love of god, a man who manages to deliver a video upon occasion.

The rest of the time he’s about as threatening as a rat in a hole. So threatening that most of the time we argue about whether or not he’s pushing up daisies.

I do wonder, really, if the people saying that the Democrats need to get Bin Laden so he can quit acting like they’re his flunkies in public are right.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
This is a familiar left-wing refrain but it is just plain meaningless as an argument. Fighting any enemy usually inspires that enemy and its sympathizers to recruit and fight harder.
The idea that Iraq has helped al qaeda is something I think all counter terrorism experts and experts on the region agree about. It’s not a ’left wing’ refrain, but a fact. Also, Iran is delighted that the US has been bogged down in a quagmire, and that this has stretched the US military and made the US vulnerable. They didn’t like it when the US attacked in 2003, but now they’ve seen how easy it is to counter American military force, and have amended their strategies and now see themselves stronger in the region than before.

I think a lot of people (such as you Billy) are too caught up in the "defeat or victory" game, which really plays more to domestic politics and emotion than a rational, objective view of US policy interests. It’s treating this like a football game, where the "fans" of one side will be "emboldened" if the other side "loses."

No. We have to leave Iraq. We need to do so in a way that tries to prevent chaos from spreading, but we can’t stay there and somehow will Iraq to be something it’s not ready to be, and in no condition to become any time soon. It’s not worth it to us, we have other far more important interests, and it takes away from real counter-terrorism resources. If we leave, even if we do so in a way that is relatively successful, Bin Laden will claim a glorious victory, pointing to how we thought we’d go in and be greeted and instead met stiff resistance and could not make Iraq some kind of subservient ally. Fine. Let him huff and puff all he wants. Don’t fall into the game of putting style and rhetoric before substance.

The substance is what matters. I think Gen. Odom (who has been involved in counter terrorism since the Reagan years and knows the region) has a good analysis; we’ve got to think about our strategic interests and the complexity of the region, not fall into a simplisitic concern about "looking bad" or having "stay in order not to let Bin Laden declare victory." That’s actually giving Bin Laden power over our choices, and he is very happy to have us stay in Iraq and suffer all the negatives that causes.

We’re playing on their terms, and seem so afraid that they might score a propaganda victory that somehow will give them a psychological boost (very unlikely) that we are unwilling to make the changes necessary to play the game on our terms. We’re playing into their hands because we are afraid to admit that we made a mistake, afraid that somehow that would make us look weak. That is a policy based on the idea that appearances are more important than substance. That’s a dangerous path to take.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Justification for war: War should be a last resort if all else fails in order to protect oneself from attack, or an imminent threat. Clearly, attacking Iraq fails that kind of test, especially given how weakened Saddam was, and how unlikely there would be an imminent al qaeda threat directly tied to Iraq. As such, it was undeniably a war of aggression, done in belief that this would help defeat terrorism by creating a democratic, stable Iraq which would both house American troops that could pressure other regimes and non-state actors like al qaeda, and be a model to bring change to Syria and Iran. That would also create conditions (so the theory went) whereby a Palestinian-Israeli peace could be possible.

In short, it was built on a series of illusions, a belief that if we had the balls to use our power, we’d change the region and help undercut terrorism by spreading democracy. That’s the worst kind of justification for war, it puts abstract fantasy of what might happen above concrete reality of the death and destruction that will happen. That is why I’m convinced this will be remembered as a fiasco. Most fiascos like this happen when there are unrealistic goals, underestimation of the difficulty and danger, and over confidence or hubris.

But you can wait for history to judge if you want.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"...no GWOT hawk in his right mind would say what you said."

Now that is a curious statement isn’t it.

If we know *exactly* where Bin Laden is and if he is in Pakistan I’ve no doubt we’d hit him somehow. I’ve no doubt we have people in Pakistan working in a "deniable" manner.

But what you’re talking about is invading a sovereign, but somewhat unstable, nuclear power with military forces in order to *find* someone we think is there.

I don’t know a single GWOT hawk who has suggested that this would be a good thing. The only people I hear saying this would be a good thing are liberal anti-war sorts trying to get their hawk creds... like Obama.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
"The idea that Iraq has helped al qaeda is something I think all counter terrorism experts and experts on the region agree about. It’s not a ’left wing’ refrain, but a fact."

The problem with truisms (or whatever the correct term for this would be) is that they lack conceptual depth. NOT attacking Iraq helped Al Qaida. Everything we did or didn’t do in relation to Iraq helped Al Qaida. So while it’s true to say that our actions in Iraq helped Al Qaida it’s NOT true to assume that means that Al Qaida would be worse off if we’d continued with Sanctions in Iraq or if we’d dropped Sanctions and said "never mind then" and pretended that the invasion of Kuwait and Desert Storm never happened. All three options would HELP Al Qaida one way or another.


"Also, Iran is delighted that the US has been bogged down in a quagmire, and that this has stretched the US military and made the US vulnerable."

This I doubt greatly unless Iran, as an entity, is clinically retarded. In regards to Iran we are geographically placed for greatest advantage. When it comes to *Iran* our military is not *stretched.* Taking *out* Iran as a threat would hardly warrant an interruption of our activities in Iraq.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
You know how many links I could find from people in 2002 and 2003 saying they believed OBL was in Pakistan?
Do you know how little that matters in reality?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
.* Taking *out* Iran as a threat would hardly warrant an interruption of our activities in Iraq.
You vastly overestimate American power and our strategic situation.

Joe South (one of the best song writers of all time) said it best "pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit goes before a fall..."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Joe South (one of the best song writers of all time) said it best "pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit goes before a fall..."
And a well placed Nuke turns all to glass!
You vastly overestimate American power and our strategic situation.
No, but I do question America’s will to use that power.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
You’re, apparently, the one insisting that we take unilateral actions that utterly disregard the sovereignty of nations and will most certainly play very *very* badly among middle eastern nations other than Pakistan while utterly destabilizing a nuclear power just to get, for the love of god, a man who manages to deliver a video upon occasion.

The rest of the time he’s about as threatening as a rat in a hole. So threatening that most of the time we argue about whether or not he’s pushing up daisies.
Synova, this is ridiculous. You’re too smart to be making this argument.

You know about the recent attack broken up in Germany, don’t you?

You know where it was organized from?

You know where the plot to blow up ten US jetplanes in 2006 was organized from as well, don’t you?

Two massive terror attacks have been barely dodged in the past year, both planned in Pakistan, and you’re somehow capable of claiming that Osama Bin Laden - and the core Al-Quieda apparatus in Pakistan that supports him - is "as threatening as a rat in a hole?"

So, are you claiming OBL has no connection to the two massive terror plots in the last year? Or what?

How many massive international terror attacks have been planned from Iraq?

Care to compare and contrast?

As for
unilateral actions that utterly disregard the sovereignty of nations
This is hilarious. I’m all for respecting the sovreignty of nations not containing terrorists that have attacked the US homeland. I’m all for violating the sovreignity of nations containing terrorists that have attacked the US homeland. You have this exactly backward. You, apparently, are willing to support the invasion of any Middle Eastern country on the globe, except ones containing terrorists that have attacked the US homeland.

I don’t understand your position at all, except as as an absolutely unconditional defense of whatever ridiculous "strategy" currently produced by George W. Bush.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
This I doubt greatly unless Iran, as an entity, is clinically retarded. In regards to Iran we are geographically placed for greatest advantage. When it comes to *Iran* our military is not *stretched.* Taking *out* Iran as a threat would hardly warrant an interruption of our activities in Iraq.
This is highly misleading. Our counterinsurgency in Iraq makes it impossible to bomb Iraq without suffering a catastrophic collapse in our position in Iraq. Even McQ understands this. That’s why we haven’t, in fact, bombed Iran: because the leverage it has in potential inflicted pain on US soldiers in response. The IED’s are deniable: Iran could escalate a lot further, and we know it. The munitions handed out to Hizballah in Lebanon, handed out to an inflamed Shia population, would trend US casualty rates towards Vietnam’s.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
You’re right, Captain Sarcastic. I was just so way off the mark. After all, if there’s one candidate running who’s committed to capitalism, it’s Edwards, right?
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
Joe South (one of the best song writers of all time) said it best "pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit goes before a fall..."
Not to nitpick, but unless Joe South lived in the Middle East several thousand years ago, he didn’t write that line. See Proverbs 16:18.

Sarcasm on your part perhaps? If so, you need to work on your technique.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070909/ts_nm/binladen_arabs_dc

’Al Qaeda leaders say their "holy war" against Western powers is chiefly in retaliation for U.S. support for Israel at the expense of Arabs over the past six decades, and more recently over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.’

It’s 6 years since 9/11, and yet the media apparently doesn’t ever want to go back and read the original "declaration of war" by Bin Laden. It is not all about Israel, but far, far more.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
You’re right, Captain Sarcastic. I was just so way off the mark. After all, if there’s one candidate running who’s committed to capitalism, it’s Edwards, right?
Of course I am right, and of course all of the candidates are committed to capitalism.

 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Some things are difficult to grasp it seems.

Iraq is a recruiting tool for AQ, is claimed. Whether or not this is true is irrelevant, and as a matter of fact, it is a bonus if true. Think long and hard on what is actually happening in Iraq. It is not the defeat of AQ militarily that is the objective. It does not matter how many AQ fighters are recruited and sent to the Iraq theater. They cannot possibly win by force of arms against the US military.

Our objective is to deliniate the differences between the brutality and bloodthirsty tactics of those who use rampant rape, mass murder, and torture as a method of keeping populations in line, and the west which wishes to give the peaceful rule of law to the people themselves.

It matters not a whit how many extra terrorists are recruited by the Iraq front. Not a single bit. Terrorism exercised against the west has been heartily supported by this portion of the world ruled by tyrants. Islam is used as a vehicle to justify brutal suppression and aggression by those wanting to expand their power. The only way to eliminate this type of action is for those that were supporters to turn against it and become the ones that will police against it.

Iraq is a front of our choosing. The populations of Iraq are now being subjected to the full brunt of what the Islamic world has been using on the west for decades. The people of Iraq are learning/have learned that AQ is not their friend, and never will be, they are just another tyrany. This is no small thing, it has taken a few brutal years of rampant murder of innocents by the thousands for them to learn. Alternatively, the west is not offering tyrany, but rather freedom from brutal tyrants, supported by our force of arms. We are also training and building up that nation with the goal of it being self sufficient in defense of itself. This dichotomy between the forces at play in Iraq are not going unnoticed.

This is the purpose of Iraq.

This is a long fight, one that will take at least a generation, longer if we falter now. For those with no stomach for it we hear the cries of withdrawl, of failure, of quagmire. Those are positions of weakness and defeat. Those positions if followed, will be the biggest recruiter for the cause of islamism than any battle in any front could ever be. It would provide a claim of victory for our enemies, and nothing is a better recruiter than victory.

There is no retreat in the modern world. The fight was brought to US on 9/11, on our own shores. If we relent and give them the choice of where to fight us again, do you think they’ll refrain from attacking again?

Surrendering in Iraq will not bring peace. Those that wish us dead still wish us dead. Surrendering will only give them another rallying cry, and the freedom to expand their war again to a front of their choosing.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
Iraq is a front of our choosing. The populations of Iraq are now being subjected to the full brunt of what the Islamic world has been using on the west for decades.
So... you mean we are not there to liberate Iraq, but to make their front yard the front in our war against extremism that didn’t really exist in their country before?

Nice!

 
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