President Obama has stated multiple times that Al Qaeda was "decimated". Here's a typical Obama quote on the subject from November 1st, 2012:
"...the war in Iraq is over, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, Al Qaeda is decimated, Osama Bin Laden is dead".
Not quite so, Mr. Obama.
The Iraq War is not over. We are just no longer involved in it. It rages on.
And Al Qaeda is not decimated either. Far from it:
Ten years after the capture of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is at risk of becoming a failed state again as al-Qaeda reclaims vast swathes of the country.
Friday’s anniversary of the Iraqi dictator's arrest sees the country still struggling with his legacy, with al-Qaeda launching a fresh campaign of terrorist atrocities from new territory carved out in western and northern Iraq.
Backed by jihadists fighting the civil war in neighbouring Syria, the group is trying to create an “emirate” straddling the two countries, taking advantage of the collapse in security across the border.
Bridges linking four key border towns on the Iraqi side have been dynamited, making it difficult for security forces to operate in the area.
Road signs have even been put up proclaiming it to be the turf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the name for the joint Syrian-Iraqi al-Qaeda franchise.
People have focused on the 'where are the WMD's ?' question In Iraq (too much), but the above illustrates the real reason President George W. Bush should not have gone to war in Iraq. It's the reason I was opposed. Bush and his cadre thought we could transform Iraq into an American-style democracy, but it turns out we cannot, at least not without committing American troops, treasure, and blood there virtually forever. Ditto for Afghanistan. We think of war as 1) you win militarily, 2) you help rebuild the country, and 3) you're done. But Al Qaeda and the rest of the Islamists don't think the same way. Unable to compete with us militarily, they think in terms of a longer war. They wait us out. They were waiting for us to leave Iraq to launch their offfensive, and now they are reclaiming large parts of Iraq for themselves...and George W. Bush is responsible for it. So is Barack Obama. You can argue that an Iraq under the thumb of the brutal Saddam Hussein was no better, but I'm not so sure about that. At least there was a kind of sick and twisted stability under Saddam, as horrible as it was. Now there is a power vacuum waiting to be filled, and the worst people imaginable might fill it. If so, no American interest whatsoever will have been served by a decade of war.
When the surge In Iraq turned back the terrorist factions in 2006 and forward, I was hopeful a legitimate state could be built in Iraq. Sadly, it has turned out that when Colin Powell told Bush, "You break it, you own it", that advice was spot on. It was advice Bush should have heeded. Think about how naive Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was when he said the Iraq War would last "five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that. It won't be a World War III."
Rumsfeld was thinking about how long the Gulf War lasted when he made that statement, but we didn't overthrow the Iraqi government during the Gulf War. That was the big difference. There was no valid exit strategy for the Iraq War, but we exit anyway. America doesn't have the stomach for the long war. The Islamists do.
We keep pulling the dictatorial scabs off of Middle Eastern countries without thinking about what lies beneath the scab. What lies beneath is often worse. What lies beneath are various Islamists, along with a lot of good people. We pulled off the scab in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, and nearly Syria before Russia, of all people, intervened with a dose of common sense to avert war. We have insane neocons pushing for war in Iran too, even AFTER an agreement on nukes was reached. What are these people thinking ? Are these people thinking at all ? At least wait to see if the Iran agreement works, for god's sake.
Contrary to the naive words of Donald Rumsfeld, I believe it WOULD take World War III to remake the Middle East in our preferred image...and I don't even know if that would work.
Expect the same deterioration that is happening in Iraq, Libya, and Egypt to happen after we leave Afghanistan, when President Obama decides that war is over. It won't be.
If I sound pessimistic, it's only because I am. A decade of war will do that to a person.
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