While We Are Tied Down In Iraq, True Supporters Of 9/11 Get Away With It
Following up on a post that Matt had yesterday, people who had been paying close attention to international terrorism over the last half-decade, and who didn’t approach foreign affairs and antiterrorism as an ideological playground would have told you even before 9/11 that Iran and Pakistan, along with Saudi Arabia were more involved in supporting Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda than the secular Saddam Hussein ever would be. Many authors who have studied Bin Laden, such as Peter Bergen and Yossef Bodansky, already had documented the support that Al Qaeda had received from Pakistan’s ISI and Iran, yet no one in the White House, starting at the top, reads books or anything that contradicts their cast-in-stone judgments about Hussein being the root of all evil in the region. As a result, we now face a situation where 140,000 of our troops are tied down in a country that was not a major supporter of international terrorism, and these troops are not fighting international terror, but are simply trying to stay alive and keep the transitional government alive themselves and protected from assassination until elections can take place.
Meanwhile, the countries that truly are supporters of international terrorism are feeding Al Qaeda still, sending forces into Iraq to kill Americans, and helping to destabilize and topple Afghanistan so that the Taliban can reclaim large parts of the country and recreate safe havens for Al Qaeda once more. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the 9/11 Commission is about to issue a report that confirms the role that Iran, and not Iraq played in helping Al Qaeda plan and carry out the 9/11 attacks. Iran even admits that the 9/11 participants went through their country. It can be argued that if the Bush Administration had read books and consulted with those who studied and traveled in the region about what to do after the immediate need to topple the Taliban and destroy Al Qaeda’s safe haven, the consensus would have been to stabilize Afghanistan first while confronting Iran, the Paks, and the Saudis quietly about their role in supporting Al Qaeda, with a reminder to those countries that we would have over 100,000 troops in Afghanistan ready to deal with these countries if they didn’t take immediate steps to root out and deliver Al Qaeda to justice. This could all have been done while keeping Saddam on a short leash with continued sanctions and stepped up inspections.
But we didn’t proceed this way. Instead, we now own a country with large oil reserves that we may never get full access to, while our trapped troops cannot deal with true terrorism threats in the region. Those same countries will not be swayed by our presence in Iraq, because they know our steep military commitment in Iraq, and the loss of domestic and international political support for future campaigns undercuts any chance we can threaten them, plus the Saudis know that they control the President, and the Paks know that they control him as long as Bin Laden is alive and free. As for the Iranians, they know that as long as they can help keep us tied down in Iraq, there is no chance that we will be coming over the border to deal with them.
And who is paying the ultimate price for this failed foreign policy? Well, first our nation is, because we are waiting for another terror strike this fall after being told by this Administration that we are safer as a result of their rhetoric over the last three years. But the ultimate losers are the troops who have been killed or maimed, and families who are now questioning more and more why their sons and daughters are engaged in an enterprise which has done nothing to make us safer from terrorism but has managed to kill many innocent Iraqis and stirred their rage against us. It is an especially tragic cost to bear for those families who saw their sons, daughters, and dads as Reserve or Guardsmen get called to go overseas only to die fighting a war of so little consequence.
We can debate whether we should feel especially sorry for Reservists or Guardsmen who thought they were signing up in the days after 9/11 out of patriotic duty, leaving their jobs and families, to protect the homeland, only to see their unelected president send them overseas to fight a war for oil, personal animosity, and ideology. But the tragedy is all too real for the wives, children, and parents of the Guardsmen and Reservists who have seen their loved ones killed as a result of George W. Bush’s war of choice and his criminal neglect in not providing them with appropriate Kevlar vests and enough troops and other equipment. More and more of these families will want to know why they have paid the ultimate price for Mr. Bush’s war, when it turns out that Iran and others were the problems all along.