Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Does Iraq make us less safe?

You've seen the stories about the leaked intelligence report which says:

"The Iraq Jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives,"

Other key points of the report include:

  • Militants, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion
  • If this trend continues, threats to US interests globally will become more diverse leading to increased attacks worldwide
  • Militants consider Europe an important venue for attacking Western interests
  • The loss of key leaders in rapid succession would probably fracture al-Qaeda into smaller groups that would pose, at least for a time, a less serious threat to US interests.

I'm certainly not the kind of person who thinks that we in the West have brought this all on ourselves. And I know that there's a death-cult ideology in fanatical, radical Islam that began long before Iraq and is driven as much by internal conflicts with Islam and Arab culture as it is a reaction to the West.

BUT, can you blame people for getting mad when it appears to most of the world that the Iraq invasion was done under flimsy pretext. Can you blame them for assuming the worst motivation on our part when our leaders give us different reasons for going in after the fact and I'm still not clear what the real reasons are.

Muslims, in some respects are like that squabbling family that live down the block, constantly fighting each other, but turning on anyone, anyone who dares to attack or criticise their own. Invading someone's country counts as a pretty straightforward attack in my book, and in one sense it doesn't matter that most of the civilians killed in Iraq are killed by other Muslims. We kicked it off and we are responsible.

I don't for one second thinks this gives anyone an excuse to join up with their local terror brigade, but if the Muslims are burning with a sense of injustice already and we give them a real reason to feel a sense of injustice who are they going to turn to? If not by the sword, than by the hand (donations to terror groups, running terror websites) or the tongue (the fomenting anger of the Arab street).

It's true that there may have been the occasional agent of terror hanging around in Iraq before. And it's true that Saddam Hussein certainly wasn't going to be cooperative and help us root them out. But now Iraq is a swarming hive, a live-fire exercise in terror. We stirred the hornet's nest. Sometimes you have to do that, but I don't think we needed to invade Iraq. And now we have to deal with the consequences.

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