Are We Safer? Not as Long as Al-Qaeda Lurks By Joseph L. Galloway Knight Ridder Newspapers Tuesday 13 January 2003
WASHINGTON - Have we permitted ourselves to become bogged down in Iraq, in what at best is a sideshow in the Global War on Terrorism, while diverting precious manpower and resources away from the real objective?
More than a few analysts believe that is precisely what has happened - most recently Dr. Jeffrey Record, author and visiting professor at the Air War College. Record's scathing criticism of the Bush administration's strategy and tactics is presented in a paper for the Strategic Studies Institute titled "Bounding the Global War on Terrorism" (www.carlisle.army.mil/ssi).
Record declares that the war on terrorism "lacks strategic clarity, embraces unrealistic objectives and may not be sustainable over the long haul." He calls for scaling back the scope of the war on terrorism to reflect both concrete U.S. security interests and the limits of American military power.
Record says that what we have done in Iraq, by lumping al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq into a single terrorist threat, has resulted in "an unnecessary preventive war of choice against a deterred Iraq that has created a new front in the Middle East for Islamic terrorism and diverted attention and resources away from securing the American homeland against further assault by ... al-Qaeda."
The professor adds, correctly, that "the war against Iraq was not integral to the (global war on terrorism), but rather a detour from it."
Most of the Bush administration's declared objectives in the global war on terrorism, Record writes, "are unrealistic and condemn the United States to a hopeless quest for absolute security. As such, the ... goals are also politically, fiscally and militarily unsustainable."
The question of whether President Bush arrived in office determined to overthrow Saddam Hussein from the get-go, as postulated by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, is moot. The real questions at the heart of it: Is the United States a safer place for having gone after Saddam and Iraq? Was the diversion of valuable resources from the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan worth the game?
The answers are (1) no, and (2) hardly.
In Iraq we are struggling to find a military solution to a political problem in a land riven by ethnic, tribal and religious fault lines. Our stated goals are to rebuild a shattered nation, at a cost approaching $100 billion a year, and while we are at it graft Jeffersonian democracy on a people who have never known such freedom and don't find it particularly desirable.
Record says what the Bush administration must do, and swiftly, is substitute credible deterrence for preventive war as a way of dealing with rogue states seeking weapons of mass destruction; refocus and refine the war on terrorism to take direct aim on al-Qaeda and its allies; prepare to settle for stability instead of democracy in Iraq, and for international rather than U.S. responsibility for Iraq's future.
In short, the United States must find some credible way to stabilize the situation in Iraq, hand off responsibility to the international community, which was spurned at the outset by Bush administration officials such as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and get out of there.
If we have to eat some crow, so be it. Feed the first bite, feathers and all, to Rumsfeld and then get on with taking care of the business at hand with al-Qaeda. Bumbling around Iraq, losing two or three American soldiers per day, is not making America a safer place. Capturing Osama bin Laden and smashing his organization would.
How a president, and his administration, reacted so well in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 and the horror of a mass-casualty terrorist attack on American soil and American citizens and then wandered so far off course is a puzzle. How all the fine talk about fighting the terrorists and defending America somehow was translated into the creation of a bureaucratic monstrosity, the Department of Homeland Security, and a needless war against an Iraqi dictator who was already boxed in and defanged should be examined now.
If President Bush wants another four years in office, he needs to admit the mistakes of the last two years, begin to repair those errors and start to take the kind of action that will make this country safer and more secure, not less.
_________________ nrfnnfnf QUOTES from SMART people on our dire situation
King George (the madness of) eege George the Lionheart and the New Crusades
FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.