I have not had time to read the reports in the NYT and Washington Post yet, but saw a quick summary on my local news (before I turned the channel — see update to Clinton interview post below) and thought it sounded “off.” In other words, the summary of the report was at odds with many of the facts I knew to be true. On Fox News I saw a Negroponte quote saying that the summary distorts the contents of the report. Michelle Malkin has a very comprehensive post on the subject.
Captain Ed had this to say of the report of the contents of the NIE:
It makes the classic logical fallacy of confusing correlation with causation, and the basic premise can easily be dismissed with a reminder of some basic facts.
First and foremost, Islamist radicalism didn’t just start expanding in 2003. The most massive expansion of Islamist radicalism came after the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, when the Islamists defeated one of the world’s superpowers. Shortly afterwards, the staging of American forces in Saudi Arabia to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait created the most significant impulse for the expansion of organized Islamist radicalism and led directly to the formation of al-Qaeda. It put the US in Wahhabi jihadist crosshairs for the first time.
Unfortunately, we decided to allow Saddam to survive, and then got caught up in a 12-year war that only occasionally looked like peace… Either we had to acknowledge defeat in that war and retreat from the region after 9/11, or we had to end that twelve-year war in order to prosecute the war on terror in the region where terrorists lived.
Did that make Islamists more angry? Yes, I’m sure it did, and it probably did give them a great propaganda tool for recruitment. However, here’s the crux of the problem: no matter what we do to fight the Islamists and to establish liberal thinking in opposition to them, they’re going to get motivated because of it. Even an abject surrender and a return to isolationism will not work, because their victory over us will be an even greater motivational force for Islamist expansion.
We had to conclude the Iraq war in order to fight radical Islamist terrorists. We could not afford to allow Saddam to escape the noose — which our erstwhile allies on the Security Council tried through the corruption of the Oil-For-Food program — and to have his miltary on our flank in the region. When the planes flew into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11, that truth finally dawned on Washington DC — that the long quagmire in Iraq had seriously endangered the US in the region and beyond, and that we had to end the one war as a part of the new war that terrorist had thrust upon us.
To put it bluntly, fighting terrorists and upsetting their plans for regional domination will make them mad. Creating opportunities for liberalizing democratic structures to thrive in their back yard will give them enough resentment among Islamists to recruit more terrorists. If we don’t already know that much, then we haven’t paid much attention. When George Bush warned us that this would be a long war, this is exactly what he meant. The only way to win this war is to give the people in the region better options than Islamic totalitarianism, and a success in Iraq will go a long way towards that goal.
Update: On CNN this morning I caught the end of an interview with Mark Mazetti in which he was asked if this report would be used to political advantage for the election. He said he did not cover the politics of it, so the CNN reporter pointed out that Democrats were already using it to their advantage and that viewers should stay tuned to CNN for their national security needs. Ha, then they did a piece on the gas price conspiracy and how bloggers were accusing the Bush administration of manipulating gas prices just before the election. The piece was ridiculous. Conspiracy theories were thrown out and then they interviewed “big oil” spokespeople who said prices could not be controlled that way. Then the reporter admitted that it is unlikely that the Bush administration could control prices that easily, but then opined that since big oil probably thought they would fare better under Republicans that there wouldn’t be a “memo” admitting it, but that maybe they were doing it on their own to help Republicans. Heaven forbid they actually do a report explaining the concepts of supply and demand, or a report explaining that when you actually go after the terrorists, it tends to make them mad.