Fatal adventure gives terrorists place to thrive

November 22, 2005|By G. JEFFERSON PRICE III

In the cacophony over Iraq last week, Stephen J. Hadley, President Bush's national security adviser, gave a remarkable explanation of the administration's reaction to Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha's demand for the withdrawal of U. S. troops from Iraq.

"We do not see how an immediate pullout contributes to winning the war on terror, bringing stability to Iraq, how it makes America, the United States, more secure. It doesn't seem to achieve any of the objectives that we have."

To which the Pennsylvania congressman might have responded:

The invasion and occupation of Iraq have not contributed to winning the war on terror; they distracted from it.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq have not brought stability to that land; they have de-stabilized Iraq, created the conditions for a prolonged civil war and created an environment in which terrorists now thrive.

America's chief preoccupation today is not with Osama bin Laden; it is with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other creations of the Iraqi conflict.

America is not more secure because of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It is probably less secure. Certainly, Americans in Iraq are not secure. Neither are Iraqis, scores of whom are being blown up while the withdrawal debate rages in Washington.

But let's just focus on the war on terror. Mr. Hadley, along with his boss, Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - from whom we hear relatively little these days -keep telling us that the fatal adventure in Iraq is in aid of the war on terror.

Long ago, the administration abandoned its primary and false reason for invading Iraq. That was the proposition that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including well-developed plans for nuclear weapons. He thus represented a sufficient threat to the security of the United States to justify war.

Without the WMD threat, there would have been no justification for war. To enhance the case for war, the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Paul Wolfowitz gang of four - Mr. Wolfowitz then was Mr. Rumsfeld's deputy - exploited America's post-9/11 anxieties with the suggestion that a connection existed between Mr. Hussein and al-Qaida. They aggressively encouraged the fiction that Mr. Hussein somehow was tied to 9/11. There was and is no evidence to support this. But that didn't matter to the gang of four. The whole cause for war was fiction; only the degree to which they knew it was fiction is in doubt today.

Mr. Bush would even acknowledge after the war began that "we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th." But this moment of truth was hardly noticed and the administration continues to tell us Iraq is part of the war on terror.

It's also worthwhile to revisit the near-unanimous resolution Congress passed for war in Iraq, the one that Mr. Cheney says people like Mr. Murtha are now "losing their memory or their backbone" about. The war resolution was passed on the false belief that Mr. Hussein's non-existent WMD did pose a threat to U. S. security. But it also was passed against the backdrop certainty that U. S. troops were about to be fighting in Iraq. So the argument turned from whether or not to go to war - because that already had been decided - to whether there was bipartisan support for the American men and women ordered to fight that war.

Today, more than two years after the war began, with the fatal bankruptcy of its cause evident to the vast majority of Americans, the war gang has begun backpedaling on the notion that opposition to its war translates to a lack of support for our troops.

Mr. Murtha, a decorated Marine veteran, does support our troops. He wants them brought home safely because they have become "a catalyst" for the violence sweeping Iraq.

As for the "objectives" Mr. Hadley says the congressman's proposal would obstruct, they are the hallucinations of an administration that sent America's armed forces to war on false premises, unprepared and ill equipped for the consequences.

As Mr. Murtha said: "It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion." Unworthy, I would add, of the sacrifice of Americans who have died for it, criminal in its determination to allow more Americans to continue dying for it.

G. Jefferson Price III is a former foreign correspondent and an editor at The Sun. His e-mail is gjeffersonprice@yahoo.com.

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