Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Debate Without End

From the "Well, Duh" files:

British and U.S. intelligence had no credible evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States before the 2003 Iraq invasion, the ex-head of Britain's domestic spy agency told the country's inquiry into the war Tuesday.

Why is this even being treated as a point of debate today? I know that the anti-war side likes to assert that Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, but it is simply not true that Bush said that. Check out the actual reasons for the war and you will not find any claim that Iraq helped or directed the 9/11 attackers.

After settling that non-issue, she went on to blast the impact of the Iraq War:

"Our involvement in Iraq radicalized, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people — not a whole generation, a few among a generation — who saw our involvement in Iraq, on top of our involvement in Afghanistan as being an attack on Islam," she said.

A whole generation radicalized! By our involvement in Iraq!

Well, upon reflection, not all of them. But "a few" among that generation were radicalized.

And, um, to be clear, those few were radicalized by not just the "bad war" in Iraq, but by the "good war" in Afghanistan.

Gosh, given her track record of accuracy in the rest of that sentence, I wish she'd worked on a better word for "radicalized." But given that she recognizes a need for clarification in that word, perhaps if asked she'd concede that quite a few of that generation were radicalized even before Iraq--and even before Afghanistan. There was quite a bid of cheering in parts of the Islamic world upon hearing the news of the 9/11 attacks, after all.

Of course, since we won the Iraq War, our involvement in Iraq doesn't seem to be radicalizing even a few, any more. So much for that recruiting tool. Even if by "our involvement in Iraq" she wishes to run the timeline back from March 2003 through the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and subsequent sanctions enforcement, the problem clearly wasn't "our involvement" but our failure until 2008 to finally win against both Saddam and the multiple insurgencies and terror campaigns that plagued Iraq after we ousted Saddam. But I'm being over-generous here since she clearly said Iraq was a problem "on top of" our involvement with Afghanistan, implying she is just blaming the war begun in 2003 (or renewed, depending on how you view the 1991 ceasefire).

And then there is the old standby--we were "distracted" by Iraq:

"By focusing on Iraq we reduced the focus on the al-Qaida threat in Afghanistan. I think that was a long-term, major and strategic problem," Manningham-Buller told the panel.

Never mind that in 2001 we drove al Qaeda from Afghanistan and into Pakistan, so how were we to focus on the threat "in Afghanistan?" Never mind that the anti-Afghanistan War side now argues that we should get out of Afghanistan because there are few al Qaeda in Afghanistan to fight (but wasn't our so-called distraction supposed to have made Afghanistan al Qaeda central again?).

I swear to God, opponents of the Iraq War never tire of debating whether to go to war in Iraq. And they tend to debate it amongst themselves since the pro-war side won't stick to the accepted Left talking points on the war.

This was the former head of MI-5 talking. I'm not impressed.

On the bright side, I don't feel so bad about our CIA's track record now.

UPDATE: Oh! And she brought up one more piece of non-issue yet again:

The ex-spy chief said those pushing the case for war in the United States gave undue prominence to scraps of inconclusive intelligence on possible links between Iraq and the 2001 attacks. She singled out the then-U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"It is why Donald Rumsfeld started an alternative intelligence unit in the Pentagon to seek an alternative judgment," said Manningham-Buller, who was a frequent visitor to the U.S. as MI5 chief.

I guess she has forgotten that our own IG cleared the Pentagon of that charge--not that our media was capable of reporting that.