Heckuva Job Karl
The New York Times’ David Sanger noted today that by releasing portions of the NIE yesterday, Bush has undermined his own claims that we are winning war on terror.
Portions of the report appear to bolster President Bush’s argument that the only way to defeat the terrorists is to keep unrelenting military pressure on them. But nowhere in the assessment is any evidence to support Mr. Bush’s confident-sounding assertion this month in Atlanta that “America is winning the war on terror."
But there is a difference in tone between Mr. Bush’s public statements and the classified assessment that is unmistakable. The report says that over the next five years “the confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups."
It also suggests that while democratization and “exposing the religious and political straitjacket that is implied by the jihadists’ propaganda" might dim the appeal of the terrorist groups, those factors are now outweighed by the dangerous brew of fear of Western domination, the battle for Iraq’s future and the slow pace of real economic or political progress.
Yet the intelligence report bears none of Mr. Bush’s long-range optimism. Rather it dwells on Mr. Rumsfeld’s darker question, which he put cheekily as, “Is our current situation such that ‘the harder we work, the behinder we get?’ ”
Tuesday’s declassified report asked a more subtle version of that question. It notes that while democratization might “begin to slow the spread" of extremism, the “destabilizing transitions" caused by political change “will create new opportunities for jihadists to exploit."
And while Mr. Bush talks often of transforming the Middle East, the report speaks of the “vulnerabilities" created by the fact that “anti-U.S. and antiglobalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies."
The result, it said, was that other groups around the world are radicalizing “more quickly, more widely and more anonymously in the Internet age."
In short, it describes a jihadist movement that, for now, is simply outpacing Mr. Bush’s counterattacks.
“I guess the overall conclusion that you get from it is that we don’t have enough bullets given all the enemies we are creating," said Bruce Hoffman, a professor of security studies at Georgetown University.
Heckuva job Karl. You aimed to fire up your base and managed to undermine your election strategy.
It shouldn’t be surprising therefore to see that the White House will stonewall until after the election the release of the really damaging report on Iraq that Jane Harman wants out now. Harman is not backing down, and is now demanding that the second, more damaging intelligence report on Iraq be released before the election.
But what is the net result in terms of Iraq policy? In the face of poll results which show that Iraqis think we will never leave, the GOP-led House is actually adding to the defense authorization bill a “no permanent bases” provision, something that we have been telling the Democrats to advocate for months.