The “bombshell” revelation from last April’s National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which was leaked to the New York Times in September, was that the war in Iraq had resulted in more terrorism, not less. As reported by United Press International’s Claude Salhani, “Did we really need 16 intelligence agencies to tell us that? Ten minutes of watching the newscast of your choice, from Al-Jazeera to Fox News, would be enough to convince most observers.” But the key question is why the war has provoked the global Jihad.
One answer has to be the influence in the Arab world of the America-hating network Al-Jazeera. The AIM DVD on “Terror Television” shows film footage of captured terrorists saying they came to Iraq to kill Americans because of the words and images on Al-Jazeera.
The NIE stated that “We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.” And then, the line most quoted in the mainstream media: “The Iraq conflict has become the ’cause c?l?bre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”
Many in the media chose to ignore the next line, because it stated what was at stake: “Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.”
Thus, while it is clear that America fighting back after more than 20 years of being attacked before 9/11 and the liberation of Iraq have resulted in increased jihadist activity, the NIE makes clear that victory is the best solution. These points may all seem obvious, but when Bob Woodward, in his book State of Denial, said that victory was the solution proposed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, it was treated as if this were some sort of radical new doctrine.
Since only one part of the controversial NIE got most of the attention in the mainstream press, it is worthwhile to examine what some noted commentators said in response.
Charles Krauthammer said in a column, “The question posed?does the Iraq War increase or decrease the world supply of jihadists??is itself an exercise in counting angels on the head of a pin. Any answer would require a complex calculation involving dozens of unmeasurable factors, as well as constructing a complete alternate history of the world had the U.S. invasion of 2003 not happened.”
Adds Krauthammer, “The irony is that the overthrow of Saddam eliminated these two rallying cries: Iraqi sanctions were lifted and U.S. troops were withdrawn from the no-longer threatened Saudi Arabia. But grievances cured are easily replaced. The jihadists wasted no time in finding new justifications for fury, and reviving old ones. The supply is endless: Danish cartoons, papal pronouncements, the liberation of women, the existence of Israel, the licentiousness of Western culture, the war in Afghanistan. And of course, Iraq?again.”
The question is for those who want to cut and run, or as they like to call it, “redeploy.” What then? What do we do in response to the next embassy bombing or attack on a Naval vessel? Or to a dirty bomb attack in an American city? Where do they want to take a stand?
Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and now writes for National Review, wrote that al Qaeda was using Iraq as a recruitment poster long before the current war. “The irony lies in the fact that there is an incontestable connection between Iraq policy and al Qaeda terrorism,” said McCarthy. “We don’t need a leaked NIE to persuade us of it because Osama bin Laden stated it quite unabashedly. We don’t hear much about it from the mainstream media, though, because it was Bill Clinton’s Iraq policy.” That is, Clinton, like Bush, had a policy of regime change in Iraq.
McCarthy cited Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa, and pointed to the little-examined “justification section” of the fatwa, which refers to U.S. “continuing aggression against the Iraqi people” and “the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance.”
And those who still argue that there was never a link between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and bin Laden’s al Qaeda prior to the current Iraq War should ask former President Clinton to explain the indictment of bin Laden that his administration issued. It said, in part, “…Al Qaida reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaida would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaida would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq.”
Another factor, as noted, is Al-Jazeera and other media organizations that serve as mouthpieces and recruiting tools for the jihadists. That is why Accuracy in Media is attempting to keep Al-Jazeera International from finding cable or satellite carriage in this hemisphere. It could recruit anti-American jihadists inside the U.S.
There is much more the administration can and must do to thwart the influence and impact of Al-Jazeera. That involves the battlefield of ideas.
On the military battlefield, the answer is victory.
While leading Democrats and their allies in the media used the NIE leak as another opportunity to call for the removal from office of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, they were surprised when administration critics who were former high-ranking military officers had different ideas than they did for resolving the situation in Iraq.
The extraordinary setting was a gathering of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Appearing before the committee were two former generals and one former Marine colonel, including Maj. Gen. John Batiste, the former commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division in Iraq. Batiste, who described himself as a “lifelong Republican,” said “Donald Rumsfeld is not a competent wartime leader.” They were critical of the number of troops, and the general execution of the war.
Six of seven of the Democratic senators at the hearing, which included Senators Schumer, Clinton, Durbin and Majority Leader Harry Reid, have supported legislation calling for the beginning of troop withdrawals this year. So while they appreciated the criticism of the administration’s handling of the war, they didn’t like the plan being offered by these members of the military for victory.
As Dana Milbank reported in the Washington Post:
“We must mobilize our country for a protracted challenge,” Batiste warned.
“We better be planning for at least a minimum of a decade or longer,” contributed retired Marine Col. Thomas Hammes.
“We are, conservatively, 60,000 soldiers short,” added retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of building the Iraqi Security Forces.
The experts are unanimous: a military victory is the only option. The alternative is too terrible to contemplate. But defeat will come unless the administration gets serious about waging this war on the battlefield of ideas. That involves confronting Al-Jazeera and its poisonous off-spring, Al-Jazeera International.