Those betting on a quick U.S. exit from Iraq and a change in President Bush’s Iran policy would do well to read the recent report from the U.S. intelligence community – reports that indicate a plan of using Iraq as a base of operations from which to launch attacks against regional threats to U.S. interests.
Six years after the attacks of September 11, U.S. intelligence indicates that Al Qaeda is as much a threat now as then, aided by the U.S. war on Iraq and the growth of fanatic movements. It also indicates that the U.S. is losing on several fronts against Al Qaeda – a group that has clearly reconstituted and reorganized itself over the past couple of years.
In addition to threats from Al Qaeda, the U.S. intelligence report identifies a danger from the Lebanese party Hizbullah, which has attacked U.S. targets in the past and is seen as probably attacking again should its interests be threatened or should its patron Iran be subjected to an American attack.
The recent report shatters the claims of Bush and his Administration that the war in Iraq has made America more secure. For over the past few years, Bush has claimed that two-thirds of Al Qaeda’s commanders have been killed or captured by U.S. forces, and that the war in Iraq has put extremist factions on the defensive. Bush has based his war on the claim that fighting terrorists abroad prevents them from posing a danger at home. But the report – released by the Bush administration itself – indicates that not only has Bush’s plan for Iraq failed to provide security and democracy for the Iraqi people, but also that it has failed to make Americans themselves any safer. No security exists for either the Iraqis or the Americans. These are the results of America’s open-ended war in Iraq – now entering its fifth year. The U.S. is now heaping criticism on Pakistani ruler Pervez Musharaf for the respite he granted Al Qaeda’s leadership when he committed to a truce with tribes on the Afghan-Pakistani border. This has not, however, spared Bush from the criticism of his own country’s Congress and media and from accusation of incompetence in and poor planning for a war that is becoming increasingly difficult to justify.
In any other circumstances, with any other administration, such a report would be a clear case for an American retreat from Iraq and from foreign conflicts like that with Iran. But this does not apply to the Bush administration, which seeks to cover up previous failures by embarking on yet more ill-fated adventures. And so the continuing security threat emanating from the American blunder in Iraq has led the Bush administration to oppose any call for an American withdrawal from the country.
This U.S. approach also applies to Iran – a country the report identifies as a threat due to its support for Hizbullah and its perceived role in sabotaging political and security developments in Iraq. The release of this report coincides with U.S. media leaks surrounding the internal debate within the Bush Administration over U.S. policy towards Iran. This debate seems to be shifting in favour of Vice President Dick Cheney, who is convinced that the administration cannot leave the situation with Iran due to his belief that no future administration – Republican or Democrat – will be capable of facing the coming danger from Iran.
The next few months in the Middle East will be critical, as Syrian President Bashar Assad stated recently – months that ought to be cause for concern for all of us, for President Bush’s toolbox of conflicts has not yet been put away.
© 2007 Media Communications Group
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