Iraq, Sex Scandals, and Terrorism
Charles Krauthammer laments the fact that the Foley scandal and Woodward book have moved the National Intelligence Estimate that said the Iraq War has made us less safe out of the spotlight, leaving that conclusion to “remain an unrebutted charge long after Foley is forgotten and Woodward is remaindered.”
Aside from the fact that the argument has been widely discussed, including in this blog and this TCS Daily piece that I wrote, he’s right. The issue for which George W. Bush and this Congress will ultimately be judged is the Iraq War; most everything else, certainly to include a previously unheard of Congressman’s instant messaging proclivities, will soon evaporate into the memory hole.
The crux of Krauthammer’s rebuttal:
Everyone seems to have forgotten that Iraq was already an Islamist cause celebre and rallying cry long before 2003. When Osama bin Laden issued his 1998 declaration of war against America, his two principal casus belli for the jihad that exploded upon us on 9/11 centered on Iraq: America’s alleged killing of more than 1 million Iraqis through the post-Gulf War sanctions, and, even worse, the desecration of Islam’s holiest cities of Mecca and Medina by the garrisoning of infidel U.S. soldiers in Saudi Arabia (as post-Gulf War protection from the continuing threat of invasion by Saddam).
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is that the overthrow of Saddam eliminated these two rallying cries: Iraqi sanctions were lifted and U.S. troops were withdrawn from the no-longer threatened Saudi Arabia.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.
Indeed. Given that a worldwide jihad arguably started with the Khomeini revolution and Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979, and was certainly well underway with the first al Qaeda attacks on American targets in 1993, it’s rather credulous to argue that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was its cause.