I worry that the heavily political discussions of the war supplemental fight have a tendency to distract from the actual strategic question of withdrawal. That, of course, has more than a little to do with the alleged strategic purpose of maintaining a large US military presence in Iraq. Initially, the objective was the establishment of democracy. Later it became preventing Iraq from slipping into a state of civil war. Then it became preventing Iraq from slipping into a “full-blown” civil war or some similar formulation. Now, we’re seeking to improve the security situation, especially in Baghdad but also elsewhere insofar as possible.
WaPo: “President Bush used his Easter weekend radio address to suggest that while Americans are “blessed” to have so many brave, volunteer military service members, congressional Democrats are jeopardizing their safety by refusing to sign his $100 billion war funding bill.”
Obviously, Democrats aren’t refusing to sign anything. Democrats passed a bill that will fund the troops. Bush is threatening to veto this bill, thus denying the troops money, because he’s refusing to back off an open-ended, accountability-free committed to Iraq. So who’s endangering whose safety?
I went to see Shooter earlier this week, so now I know better than to criticize U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa, but you’ve got to be kidding me. Mark Mazzetti and Michael Gordon report for The New York Times: “Three months after the United States successfully pressed the United Nations to impose strict sanctions on North Korea because of the country’s nuclear test, Bush administration officials allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from the North, in what appears to be a violation of the restrictions, according to senior American officials.” This, of course, because “in part because Ethiopia was in the midst of a military offensive against Islamic militias inside Somalia, a campaign that aided the American policy of combating religious extremists in the Horn of Africa.”
When it comes to Iraq, a common refrain from President Bush and other stay-the-coursers is that “if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here.” For example, on March 6, Bush said:
The extremists are fighting to take control of Iraq so they can establish it as a base from which to overthrow moderate governments in the region, and plan new attacks on the American people. If we fail in Iraq, the enemy will follow us home.
A new report from McClatchy debunks Bush’s claim. Here’s what the survey of military and diplomatic analysts found:
U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic experts in Bush’s own government say the violence in Iraq is primarily a struggle for power between Shiite and Sunni Muslim Iraqis seeking to dominate their society, not a crusade by radical Sunni jihadists bent on carrying the battle to the United States.
Foreign-born jihadists are present in Iraq, but they’re believed to number only between 4 percent and 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 insurgent fighters – 1,200 to 3,000 terrorists – according to the Defense Intelligence Agency and a recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a center-right research center.
“Attacks by terrorist groups account for only a fraction of insurgent violence,” said a February DIA report.
While acknowledging that terrorists could commit a catastrophic act on U.S. soil at any time – whether U.S. forces are in Iraq or not – the likelihood that enemy combatants from Iraq might follow departing U.S. forces back to the United States is remote at best, experts say.
One U.S. intelligence official quoted in the article points out that “the war in Iraq isn’t preventing terrorist attacks on America. If anything, that – along with the way we’ve been treating terrorist suspects – may be inspiring more Muslims to think of us as the enemy.”
So, the danger isn’t that leaving Iraq will bring more terrorism to the U.S., but that staying there will.
. . . if not for those meddling Iranians and their EFPs that could only have come from Iranian factories. Or maybe they could have come from elsewhere, like over here where “troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced ‘explosively formed penetrators’ (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches.” But that would mean the president sometimes says things that aren’t true!