Where Should We Focus The War On Terror?

In reference to my More On Interrupting Bush article, Glen Ward wrote:

I agree with you on the difficulty of establishing Democracy in Iraq. But does that mean we shouldn’t even try? I must totally dismiss your argument about already having a democracy in the region with Israel. There is one slight difference…Israel is not a Muslim nation that supports terrorism. How can you say that Iraq was not a terrorist state? Saddam openly offered rewards for homicide bombers to terrorize Israel. Do you really believe that Saddam didn’t have WMD or that he wouldn’t hesitate for a second to get them into the hands of terrorists to use against America? But we had no reason to attack his non-terrorist state. It didn’t matter that Saddam was violating how many UN resolutions for over 12 years, that he attacked our aircraft daily in the no-fly zones, that he invaded Kuwait, that he tortured and murdered thousands of Iraqis, that he tried to assassinate Bush Sr. Still, Iraq did nothing to deserve the war.

Sour grapes over not capturing bin Laden? I think the big difference between our convictions is that you view the whole war as payback or revenge against bin Laden for 9/11 and I view it as a broader war on terrorism in general. Bin laden is not the only terrorist out there, and I’m convinced that we will still get him eventually, but the war shouldn’t stop there. This has been and will continue to be an attack on our society by a multitude of radical Islamic fascists and we need to kill them before they kill us…it’s that simple.

The question always comes back to the best way to keep them from killing us. Yes, Saddam was a bad guy. It’s increasingly clear, however, that he was not the bad guy behind the most dangerous threats to us. He was not even an imminent threat in the context of our current war on terror and, in fact, served as an impediment to the mullahs of Iran, a country that appears to be more of a threat to U.S. security than Iraq was.

What’s more, our focus on Iraq has left Bin Laden at large. He may be just one among many of the “multitude of radical Islamic fascists” that we need to kill, but he has proven himself to be an especially effective organizer of said multitude. We need to get him and we need to get him soon. Even if we do get him soon, it will not remove the fact that we’re three years into this war on terror with little understanding of our enemy because we were off attacking a country that was not the most pressing threat.

From the July 26, 2004 edition of Newsweek:

Grimly, what the new 9-11 report makes clear is that nearly three years into the war on terror, America is still not close to understanding the enemy. And Washington seems less able to force Tehran to change its ways, especially since Bush has removed one of the chief threats to the mullah regime, Saddam Hussein, and is now bogged down in Iraq. As one intel official said before the Iraq war: “The Iranians are tickled by our focus on Iraq.”

All these issues have gained new urgency as Bush officials warn of further attacks. Despite recent portrayals of bin Laden as a man hunted and on the run, U.S. counterterrorism officials now say the threat today from Al Qaeda may be just as serious as in the summer of 2001. The warnings are based on unusually high-quality intelligence emanating from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border near Waziristan, where top Qaeda leaders are said to be hiding. “This is absolutely real,” said one senior U.S. counterterrorism official. “We feel very confident that they are trying hard to attack us inside the United States before the election and that some of the operatives are already here.” But just as with the 9/11 attacks, officials are at a loss to say what the actual plot is, who the plotters are, how they got here — and who helped them get here.

Columnist and blogger Hugh Hewitt falls squarely in Glen’s Camp. He had this to say in a National Review Online interview when asked “Why does my life depend on W. winning?”:

Because hundreds of thousands of Islamists are trying to kill you. George W. Bush isn’t going to try and stop them on the cheap or pray that we get lucky. He’s committed to preemption when he believes it is necessary.

John Kerry is not so committed. In his acceptance speech he said “[a]ny attack will be met with a swift and certain response.” This is not the question, and by refusing explicitly to answer the question of when if ever he would act preemptively, we can only conclude that Kerry will not move preemptively against gathering threats. Like Clinton, he will judge the intelligence too vague, the country insufficiently prepared for battle, or the undeniable costs in the lives of Americans and American dollars too great.

George Bush is trying to kill the terrorists before they kill more Americans. He will not always succeed. But I think fewer Americans will die from such attacks if Bush wins reelection, far fewer in fact.

However, John Kerry feels that the president’s policies have further endangered us, as he told reporters:

The policies of this administration, I believe and others believe very deeply, have resulted in an increase of animosity and anger focused on the United States of America. The people who are training terror are using our actions as a means of recruitment.

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