The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service yesterday released a report challenging President Bush’s Middle East counterterrorism strategy, noting that “[d]emocratization…may actually undermine U.S. security interests and exacerbate the terrorism problem”:
[T]here may be potential threats from groups or individuals aligned with other extremist causes or ideologies. Some wonder whether the emphasis on a single front in the war on terror might leave the country vulnerable to surprise attacks from groups that have been overlooked. [...]
The Strategy does not include a discussion and contingency plan for a scenario in which one does not “win.” [...]
There is heavy emphasis in the 2006 Strategy on democratization as a means of countering terrorism. Viewed in the context of the mixed success of fledgling democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan and the persistence of autocratic regimes among U.S. allies in the Middle East, the credibility and effectiveness of this strategic thrustmay merit scrutiny.
In a speech in Dallas today, Vice President Cheney confidently declared that “a free democratic Iraq will be a strategic partner in the heart of the Middle East, helping us fight and win the war on terror.”