President Bush’s key component of “the war on terrorism” – the invasion and occupation of Iraq- is a muddled fiasco that only increases terrorism in Iraq and around the world.
The rest of the world recognizes that the occupation of Iraq only inflames terrorism, but Americans have been slow to come to this realization due to a lack of media criticism, a lock-step GOP phalanx of support, and an election campaign by Bush based on fear.
Anyone who watches the news can see Iraq is a disaster. Even Bush critic on the right Senator John McCain admits, “There is an undeniable sense that things are slipping in Iraq.”
During a visit to Washington last week, Iraqi Vice President Abel Abdul Mahdi warned that Islamic militants “will start to open another front in other parts of the world.” The New York Times found that “the war in Iraq would inflame anti-America sentiments among Muslims around the world and contribute to the spread of Islamic terrorism.” Terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, now the focus of a U.S. military campaign, is successfully “enlisting support from Iraqi militants as well as foreigners” and is busy “recruiting abroad.”
U.S. intelligence concurs. In January, a series of assessments found there was little chance that Bush’s plans for Iraq would ever materialize. Far from reducing terrorism, the National Intelligence Council found that Bush’s occupation of Iraq was turning the country into a breeding ground for terrorists where new recruits could receive training to spread terrorism to other countries.
An unnamed intelligence official told the San Jose Mercury News, “All major U.S. intelligence agencies share a pessimistic prognosis for Iraq’s future.” Although the administration lied about ties between Osama bin Laden and Iraq in the run up to the invasion, intelligence officers report that such ties are finally being forged. “The sad thing is we have created what the administration claimed we were intervening to prevent: an Iraq Al-Quaida linkage,” another intelligence official said.
On June 23, the top American commander in the Middle East, Gen. John P. Abizaid, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that foreign fighters were coming into Iraq and their “overall strength is about the same” as it was six months ago. This came at a time of stress for the administration, when Cheney was declaring that any opposition in Iraq was in its “last throes,” and Rumsfeld was telling the committee that, “Any who say that we’ve lost this war, or that we’re losing this war, are wrong.”
Both Cheney and Rumsfeld were responding to an early June Washington Post-ABC News poll that showed 75 percent of Americans said the casualties in Iraq were unacceptable, 66 percent said the war was bogged down and 60 percent said the war was not worth fighting.
Bush claims about “defeating terrorism” and bringing “democracy” to Iraq are empty rhetoric. A report by the National Intelligence Council, “Mapping the Global Future,” finds that the key factors that “spawned” international terrorism will not change in the next 15 years and that terrorists trained in Afghanistan will be replaced by “the experienced survivors of the conflict in Iraq.”
These terrorists are more indomitable than those trained in Afghanistan. The report finds, “Iraq and other possible conflicts in the future could provide recruitment, training grounds, technical skills and language proficiency for a new class of terrorists who are ‘professionalized’ and for whom political violence becomes an end in itself.”
Bush’s Iraq invasion has already undermined world safety. After being threatened by Bush, Iran revved up its atomic production and North Korea, according to CIA estimates, now has enough nuclear fuel to build six or more atomic bombs, all created during the Bush presidency.
The response to the recent criticism of Bush’s handling of Iraq follows the signature Karl Rove scenario, attack the critics. Last week Rove reassured the ultra-conservative legal group, the Federalist Society, that the administration is restoring its credibility and the conservative GOP will win in 2006. Cheney appeared on right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh’s show to call Congressional criticism of the occupation of Iraq “the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city,” claiming falsely that Congress had “access to the intelligence” Bush used to justify the invasion. Cheney called criticism of Bush “cynical and pernicious falsehoods,” and declared critics had lost their “backbone.”
On Veterans Day, Bush said his critics were “deeply irresponsible” for attempting to “rewrite the history of the war” and must stand behind his leadership. Friday, Ohio Representative and GOP loyalist Jean Schmidt spoke on the House floor, calling war critics “cowards.”
Can America weather three more years of Bush in the White House? Perhaps it’s time to consider impeachment and a radical change in Congress, for we must live with the repercussions of these policies for decades.
The only solution to Iraq is one that the Bush Administration refuses to concede and one that another administration could implement. The U.S. must withdraw from Iraq and approach the problem of terrorism on many fronts. Only this strategy offers the greatest chance of containing-and ultimately reducing- terrorism.