Are we safer?
I must admit to being confused. On one hand I have Bush telling me how much safer we are while at the same time Ridge is running around saying we are in danger of a major attack sooner rather that later.
In a speech on Tuesday, Bush claimed a number of times that we are indeed safer. Professor Juan Cole a Middle East expert from the University of Michigan disagrees.
Afghanistan was once the home of al-Qaeda. Now terror camps are closed, democracy is rising, and the American people are safer," he said. '
…. Even after Bush was dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing by Blair, he did it half-heartedly. He let Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri escape. (I'll repeat that. He let Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri escape). Instead of rebuilding and stabilizing Afghanistan, as he promised, he put almost nothing into reconstruction for that country.
Then he let the poppy growing industry come back with a vengeance. Afghanistan's GNP is $5 billion a year. At least $2 billion of that is poppies, and Afghanistan has become the top source for heroin in Europe. With al-Qaeda and the Taliban still powerful in the country or its borderlands, Afghanistan is on the way to becoming a terrorist's dream-- a place worse than Colombia from which narco-terrorism can be funded and launched. This looming disaster will certainly blow back on the American homeland. Yet Bush is doing nothing to avert it.
' The dictator in Iraq had the "capability of producing weapons of mass murder. And now, the dictator is a threat to nobody, and the American people are safer." '
Bush must think we are a nation of retards if he believes we will buy this language of Saddam having the "capability" to produce weapons of mass destruction. All countries have the "capability." The point is that Iraq had given up its WMD programs and destroyed the stockpiles. The US was not in any danger from Iraq, and so cannot be safer because it was invaded.
Worse, the American invasion of Iraq is a major recruitment poster for al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda's message was that the Americans are coming to Muslim lands. 'They will invade your countries, expropriate your property, rape your women, and humiliate your men,' al-Qaeda screams. What does Bush do? He proves al-Qaeda right. More angry young Arab men are ready to fight the United States now than ever before. Bush is less popular than Bin Laden in most Muslim countries according to polls.
Not only has the Bush administration angered the Sunni Muslim world with its invasion and hamhanded occupation of Iraq, but it has managed to turn the Shiites against us too, by desecrating the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala this past spring.
' He said Pakistan used to be a safe transit point for terrorists on missions of murder. "Now Pakistani forces are rounding up terrorists, and the American people are safer." '
This is a nice sound bite but bears no resemblance to reality. The major jihadi groups in Pakistan are still operating, and the Pakistani government has been largely unable or unwilling to stop them. The Pakistanis did arrest some 500 al-Qaeda Arabs, but Pakistani courts have not cooperated with its attempts to subject the jihadis to mass arrests. A major jihadi leader was sitting in parliament until he was assassinated recently!
In Saudi Arabia, terrorists were meeting little opposition, but today the Saudi Government is taking the fight to al-Qaeda, and the American people are safer, he said. '
In Saudi Arabia, Americans were relatively safe before the Iraq war. Now Americans are in danger in Saudi Arabia, and are fleeing the country. This is an improvement?
' Not long ago, Libya was spending millions to acquire weapons of mass destruction. "Now, thousands of Libya's chemical munitions have been destroyed. Libya has given up nuclear processing equipment, and the American people are safer," he claimed. '
Oh, give it up. Libya had been trying to make that deal for years. (The European pressure and boycott was what had done the trick). What really changed was that the Americans became more receptive to such a deal. But then right in the middle of Qaddafi coming in from the cold it surfaced that he had gotten up a plot to assassinate a Saudi leader! Made it hard to crow too loud about rehabilitating him.
In addition Cole makes the following points:
Plus Bush does not mention that the entire Muslim world is royally pissed off at the United States for coddling Ariel Sharon while he gobbles up nearly half of the West Bank, expropriating and brutalizing the Palestinians in the process.
So, no, Americans are not safer, Mr. Bush. They face the threat of substantial narco-terrorism from Afghanistan. Iraq is a security nightmare that could well blow back on the American homeland. Pakistan remains a military dictatorship with a host of militant jihadi movements that had been fomented by the hardline Pakistani military intelligence. Saudi Arabia is witnessing increased al-Qaeda activity and attacks on Westerners. And the Israeli-Palestine dispute is being left to fester and poison the world.