Red White & Blue Hens

College students in Delaware who think right is right, and left is wrong. We study hard, party hard, and play hardball.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Problem With the Word "al-Qaeda"

"Iraq never attacked us...it was al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Why are we in Iraq?"
How many times have we heard this? This argument has been made relentlessly by liberals in even the most moderate of circles.

I have noticed something disturbing since September 11th: the American public's focus on al-Qaeda. Don't get me wrong, I understand very well that al-Qaeda as an organization is a huge threat to our national security, but al-Qaeda is not a country that attacked us like Japan was in 1941. We are so used to fighting conventional wars against sovereign nations that we are failing to make the necessary adjustments needed to fight this 21st century War on Terror. Not long after the attacks, news networks latched onto the pictures and footage of Osama bin Laden, and the word al-Qaeda to personify terrorism and to provide us with a picture of "the enemy". I believe that President Bush and his administration wisely tried to quickly head this growing misperception off by declaring that state-sponsors of terrorism as well as states that harbor terrorists are just as guilty as terrorists themselves. Unfortunately, they have failed. The American people have this focus on al-Qaeda that will make it increasingly difficult to explain geopolitical moves needed to be made to win this War on Terror. We can already witness this difficulty manifesting with the opposition to the War in Iraq. Liberals are demanding links to 9-11 and if they don’t get it they are boycotting the war. In other words, a threat doesn’t exist until it has already hit us once by their logic. Also by their logic, Enduring Freedom was Ok because al Qaeda was in Afghanistan and they attacked us, but "Saddam never attacked us". I visited a website (linked from moveon.org) that presented a long list of Bush administration "misleading" quotes that were used to justify action against Iraq. When I came to these two quotes and their subsequent explanations in plain text, I knew what the topic of my first blog would be.

May 1, 2003 "The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more." - President George W. Bush.The Statement was misleading because it suggested that Iraq was linked to al Qaeda. In fact, the U.S. intelligence community had conflicting evidence on this issue and was divided regarding whether there was an operational relationship.May 1, 2003 "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men -- the shock troops of a hateful ideology -- gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions. They imagined, in the words of one terrorist, that September the 11th would be the 'beginning of the end of America.' By seeking to turn our cities into killing fields, terrorists and their allies believed that they could destroy this nation's resolve, and force our retreat from the world. They have failed." - President George W. Bush. The Statement was misleading because by referencing the September 11 attacks in conjunction with discussion of the war on terror in Iraq, it left the impression that Iraq was connected to September 11. In fact, President Bush himself in September 2003 acknowledged that "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th."

I have listened to my share of debate over America's actions in the War on Terror, and one mistake that I hear made all the time by conservative and liberals alike is the general overconfidence when discussing terror groups. The fact of the matter is, as a non-Islamic country that is basically in the dark when it comes to Islamic fundamentalist ideology, we like to make assumptions about the behavior patterns of Islamic extremists. We all try desperately to figure out who al-Qaeda is "freinds" with, who al-Qaeda is "enemies" with and where al-Qaeda gets its "followers". I am going to clear things up for everyone who is unsure about al-Qaeda and Iraq and these questions. Who knows and who cares?

Saddam Hussein was a PROUD supporter of international terrorism. He had terrorist training camps in his country (which he had an iron grip on so nobody can say that he couldn't oust them if he wanted to), provided huge sums of money to the families of suicide bombers, and encouraged the second intifada. Saddam, although a staunch secularist, made it clear that he would embrace Islamic fundamentalism any time it became beneficial to his survival. We should not fool ourselves into thinking that these outlaw regimes won't deal with terrorist organizations under the table because of feuds between the figureheads (such as is pointed to between bin Laden and Saddam's supposed hatred of each other).

NO, 9-11 was NOT orchestrated by Saddam Hussein. Nor was he even a part of it. Saddam, I would even argue, has no blame for 9-11 at all. So why are we in Iraq? In fact, if Saddam never dealt with al-Qaeda, why did we oust him? BECAUSE we are not fighting a war of retribution for 9-11 victims. This war is about preventing another, more destructive terrorist attack. It is not about simply bringing terrorists to justice. It is about preventing terrorism in the first place. There can be no doubt that Saddam encouraged, funded, and even helped to train terrorists. We simply could not allow a country with a such rich oil reserves as the had, an irrational dictator with a life long dream of being the modern day Saladin, a weapons program shaped by 14 years of learning how to avoid detection, and a wealth of ties to anti-Western terrorist organizations to stay in power. Not after 9-11. Not after we have seen, and thankfully Americans have seen, the dangers of waiting for threats to gather on distant shores and then strike here in the homeland for us to retaliate. Pre-emption is the only answer. What would Americans have thought about Bush if he had launched a pre-emptive war on the Taliban and al-Qaeda in August 2001 or before. Liberals would have screamed bloody murder. The world would have screamed bloody murder. Better yet, to those Republicans who think that Clinton did not do enough to prevent 9-11: what would American have said if Clinton wanted to launch a pre-emptive attack? The problem is that being a democracy which has learned well from Vietnam, we know that we cannot fight a war and win if the people don’t support it. Therefore, a 9-11 was necessary to show Americans what will happen if we don’t act pre-emptively. I would like to submit a worry that I have had, being from NYC, that has driven my beliefs about foreign policy. After watching The Sum of All Fears, I pondered what would America do if a mushroom cloud appeared over my city tomorrow morning, and nobody claimed responsibility nor was the uranium traceable as it was in the movie. Who would we attack?

Hopefully, we will take AT LEAST the obvious steps to prevent this from ever happening. One of those steps was removing the Iraqi regime, but as obvious a necessary step as that was, look at how difficult it was to convince the people! The next step will be much more difficult. Not because of our limited power or ability, which is limitLESS when the people stand united, but simply because of the 250 million geopoliticians we have running this country, all wanting to make the decisions and nobody wanting to trust the government. My hope is that it will not take another 9-11 to show the American people that pre-emption is the only solution to a threat like international terrrorism. A terrorist is not a terrorist until he has commited the act, and then it is too late.

3 Comments:

  • At 11:28 PM, Blogger crayz said…

    "There can be no doubt that Saddam encouraged, funded, and even helped to train terrorists."

    There can also be no doubt that the US has encourage, funded, and even helped to train terrorists. What is your point? Saddam was not a threat to us, and the idea that we have some fundamental war against terrorism as a form of violence as opposed to other forms of violence which we're happy to use and endorse publicly is just naive and stupid

     
  • At 1:16 AM, Blogger spence0422 said…

    I am sorry crayz, but killing civilians by blowing up a car in a market is a little different than Marines shooting gun-toting militants. example:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7777352/

     
  • At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    New Mass Graves Uncovered In Iraq




    The video (linked to) below was taken on May 3rd. The majority of the Iraqis in the mass grave were Kurdish women and children who were butchered.

    CAUTION: CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES. A mass grave was recently discovered in the southern Iraqi province of Muthanna. The grave is considered to be damning evidence against former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and members of his regime. Soundbites are from Dr. Bakhtiar Amin, the former Iraqi Minister for Human Rights and an archaeologist who wishes to remain unnamed...Video produced by JOC Bill Houlihan for American Forces Radio and Television Service.

    Click on the link for the video:

    Muthanna Mass Grave
    I hope that the evidence the un-named archaeologist finds will help prosecute Saddam Hussein and his lieutenants. When I see images like these, I can't help but remember that France, Germany, and Russia would have kept Saddam in power.

    182,000 Kurds are still unaccounted for...

     

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