I was in the car yesterday listening to a radio report about how Saudi authorities believe that Osama bin Laden died a couple weeks ago from a severe bout of typhoid, when my 9-year-old daughter chimes in excitedly from the back seat: “Does this mean the war is over?!”
“No,” I had to disappoint her, though I was at a bit of a loss to adequately explain why.
Of course, the “war on terror,” or “The Long War” as some administration officials refer to it, was never really about bin Laden or al Qaeda, and in hindsight it seems clear that the Bush administration would have led us into this war even if 9/11 had never happened. Knowing what we know from the record, it is not paranoid to assume that President Bush was determined to invade Iraq one way or the other — the specter of bin Laden only made it a tad easier. And there is no doubt that it is our occupation of Iraq that now serves as the number one recruiting tool for anti-American, Islamic extremists.
Oh, I know that statements like that will attract the usual vitriolic attacks accusing liberals like me of being soft on terror, of being appeasers and self-blamers, of caring more about the terrorists than their innocent victims… blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Assholes.
But facts are facts. We now know through official documents and interviews with administration officials that Bush was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq from the moment he assumed office, and days after the 9/11 attack he had to be talked off of Iraq and onto Afghanistan as the first battlefield in his war. And what has been intuitively obvious to all but the most partisan observers — that replacing Saddam Hussein with a foreign occupation and a bloody civil war is creating a generation or more of anti-American extremists — has now been confirmed by our own intelligence agencies.
A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.
The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.
Republicans use the war on terror to vilify Democrats, to accuse us of being weak on defense and homeland security… but even its own intelligence agencies now admit that the administration’s policies have made us less safe, not more. And yet the Bush administration and the Republican leadership in Congress hold steadfast to their failed policies.
When our state’s editorial boards consider their endorsements in the Senate and House races it would be irresponsible of them not to take into consideration the stark assessment of our nation’s intelligence agencies, and weigh heavily the fact that a vote for a Republican — any Republican — is a vote for policies that endanger all Americans. Only a change of leadership will change our nation’s course, and without a change of course it’s going to be a long war indeed.