politics, history and the war on terror
Monday, March 29, 2004
Iraq: A Distraction from the War on Terror? 

It has been stated the Iraq War has been a distraction from the War on Terror. The main points of this argument are the resources, divisions, intelligence and diplomatic efforts directed at Iraq could have been put to better use in Afghanistan hunting al Qaeda and Taliban remnants. This argument is faulty because it does not take into account the overall nature of the challenges of this war. The War on Terror not limited solely to the destruction of al Qaeda and the Taliban; this is only one facet of the war. The WoT is a war against terror organizations, states that condone or sponsor terrorism, and the distribution network of weapons of mass destruction.

The Iraq War was instrumental in the War on Terror for the following reasons:

1) The war removed a regional threat and showed our enemies we have the will to fight and take the battle to the Middle East. Nations in the Middle East were not threatened by the defeat of the Taliban. But the defeat of Iraq caught the attention of every state in the region. It proved we will no longer tolerate overt threats to our nation and that change had better come to the region that tolerates terrorists. We were attacked on 9/11 because al Qaeda believe we did not have the will to fight, they believed we would surrender. The 12 years of inaction in Iraq helped reinforce this view of the United States as a weak nation.

2) The war placed troops on the borders of 3 terror-sponsoring states: Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Nothing frightens states belligerent to the Unites States like American troops near their borders. This has placed political pressure on these states to change the way they are doing business, and lets them know the United States is serious about its security.

3) The Flypaper Theory (also referred to as the Honeypot Theory). The invasion of Iraq forces al Qaeda and other terror organizations to divert resources to the Iraqi front. An established democracy in Iraq is a real threat to al Qaeda and terror sponsoring nations. The leader of al Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam, Abu Musab Zarqawi states this himself in a memo to the leadership of al Qaeda:

If we fight them [the Shi'a], that will be difficult because there will be a schism between us and the people of the region. How can we kill their cousins and sons and under what pretext, after the Americans start withdrawing? The Americans will continue to control from their bases, but the sons of this land will be the authority This is the democracy, we will have no pretext."

The more terrorists that pour into Iraq, the easier we can capture or kill them, and the less that are available to enter the United States. Many foreign fighters have been captured or killed in the Iraq theater. Fighting terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere is much preferable than waging the war in American cities. This may be considered callous by some, but this is the price the region must pay for condoning the actions of terrorists.

4) The war exposed the distribution network of WMD by A.Q. Khan of Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, Libya and other nations. The swift downfall and capture of Saddam Hussein terrified Libyan dictator Qaddafi and forced Libya to surrender its WMD capabilities. But Libya did more than this, it gave up inside information on the WMD trade. This exposed the underground WMD ring in Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, Indonesia and other nations. The exposure of the WMD ring in particular is an important tactical victory in the WoT. This, along with al Qaeda sponsored assassination attempts on Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff, has forced Pakistan to actively fight in its lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, a main source of support for al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistan has always been reluctant to establish its central authority in the tribal areas, it is something they have never done before. The United states could not have convinced Pakistan to cooperate to this degree in 2002 as the political pressure to act did not exist.

As stated above, the WoT is a war against terror organizations, states that condone or sponsor terrorism, and the distribution network of weapons of mass destruction. Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, acknowledged that rouge states, WMD and Islamic terrorism was a threat PRIOR to 9/11, and that 9/11 forced us to act:

"I had started to become concerned about two other phenomena."

"The first was the increasing amount of information about Islamic extremism and terrorism that was crossing my desk. Chechnya was blighted by it. So was Kashmir. Afghanistan was its training ground. Some 300 people had been killed in the attacks on the U.S.S Cole and U.S. embassies in East Africa. The extremism seemed remarkably well financed. It was very active. And it was driven not by a set of negotiable political demands, but by religious fanaticism."

"The second was the attempts by states--some of them highly unstable and repressive--to develop nuclear weapons programs, CW and BW materiel and long-range missiles. What is more, it was obvious that there was a considerable network of individuals and companies with expertise in this area, prepared to sell it."

"All this was before September 11th. I discussed the issue of WMD with President Bush at our first meeting in Camp David in February 2001."

The war in Iraq has placed enormous pressure on terror organizations, nations that sponsor terrorism, nations that cooperated in the WMD distribution network and nations unwilling to cooperate in the fight. The United States and its allies would not have been able to make progress in this war without addressing the problem of Iraq.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:20 PM