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    28 September 2006

    Conservative bamboozlement and the NIE on global terrorism

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    As I touched on below, conservatives are bustling about trying to downplay the significance of the April National Intelligence Estimate on Global Terrorism that paints Iraq as a main culprit in the rise of global Jihadism and in a bigger sense highlights the failures of their foreign policy. The first way they are doing this is by having Mr. Bush release a vetted version of the document; a documented less than one-tenth the length of the real document. This selected version (.pdf) is a series of statements, one saying the obvious, "We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives" followed by talking points like "perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere." There's one.

    Additionally, conservatives are taking this bad news and using it to smear free speech. Michelle Malkin fingered Paul Pillar as a possible of the info in the NIE, and then droned on and on about him, with no real point being made only that he might be a leaker and that he has views that don't agree with her warped view of how things should be. The reporter that broke the story, Mark Mazzetti of the NYT, has been saying (I heard on the To the Point podcast, 27 September 2006) that he wrote the story based on the leaks of "more than a dozen" officials who had a hand preparing the Estimate or had seen a copy of it. Some conservatives try to paint this leak of intelligence as somehow threatening our security, which is not the case.

    Furthermore, the argument has been made that this proves why we must stay in Iraq, and while I agree, they say nothing about the current trajectory we are on and the need to change the course. This sobering reality is lost on the true believers and the naive, but Bruce Hoffman, professor of security studies at Georgetown, gets it. He says, "I guess the overall conclusion that you get from it is that we don't have enough bullets given all the enemies we are creating."

    Finally, one last thrust of conservative confusion mongering is to say that we need to win the war in Iraq or else the terrorists would be further motivated. Well our goal in Iraq is a stable democracy, not ridding it of terrorists, which is nearly impossible in this region. The motivator behind this spike of extremism we've created was the invasion and the conduct of the ongoing occupation; not so much the idea of us losing (though that would be acceptible from their point of view). Bush said somewhere recently that if we had never went into Iraq the terrorist would still have found motivations elsewhere for recruitment. If we win the war, meaning establishing a functioning democracy, the terrorists will have yet another rallying cry for Jihad, as another Western regime surfaces in their midst. So this is all just noise from desperate politicians that have failed.

    We're dammed if we stay the course, we're damned if we leave. The only logical suggestion is a change of course.

    Posted by Geoff

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