Bush used his weekly radio address to hit back at critics who cited the newly declassified National Intelligence Estimate as evidence the Iraq war has worsened the terrorism threat. He said early leaks about it created “a lot of misimpressions about the document’s conclusions.”


“Some in Washington have selectively quoted from this document to make the case that by fighting the terrorists in Iraq, we are making our people less secure here at home,” he said. “This argument buys into the enemy’s propaganda that the terrorists attack us because we are provoking them.” ~Reuters

At least no one is misunderimpressionating Mr. Bush any longer!  I am curious which is worse: quoting selectively from the 2006 NIE to oppose the ongoing illegal war or cooking up a poorly-sourced, inaccurate 2002 NIE that was used to justify an unnecessary war?

On the question of buying propaganda, whose propaganda should we be buying (if we are indeed buying any)?  Perhaps the kind that says they attack us because of our freedom?  Well, not to worry, folks–in the past five years Mr. Bush and friends have been well on their way to getting rid of those pesky terrorist-causing freedoms, and very soon we won’t have to worry about freedom-hating terrorists coming here to strike at us.  Another question: if Bin Laden said that the sun rose in the east, would we need to deny this to avoid being guilty of buying “enemy propaganda”? 

Of course, no one serious is saying that if we left Iraq Islamic terrorism would go away or that there would no longer be a real threat at all, but simply that it is very likely that this overall threat would decrease if there were an end to the occupation of a Muslim country, when this occupation does generate more and more supporters for jihad for as long as we remain there.  Jihadis did not disappear after the Soviets left Afghanistan, but they also lost their “cause celebre” and there was less jihadi violence after that.  They turned to other conflicts in the world to advance their cause–they went to Yugoslavia after Bosnia broke away, they went to Sudan, they went to Kashmir and some did stay in Afghanistan, etc.  But if the goal is to reduce the incidence of Islamic terrorism, ending occupations that lend the jihadis‘ cause perceived legitimacy in the Islamic world is not a mistake and in fact works against what the jihadis themselves desire.  They want us sitting in one place in a static occupation where they can bleed our armed forces, force us into overreactions that alienate the population and turn more and more people against us.  For someone who believes this is the “ideological struggle of the 21st century,” Mr. Bush doesn’t have a clue what that kind of struggle entails–rule number one ought to be that you do not let the enemy create conditions more favourable to its message than yours.  While we who are opposed to the war are not buying “enemy propaganda,” the government seems intent on playing by the enemy’s rules and acting in ways that make the enemy’s strategy more effective than it otherwise should be. 

Withdrawal is not a long-term or permanent solution (indeed I am skeptical that a long-term “solution” is possible to something that is intrinsic to a religion of one billion people), but withdrawing from Iraq remains the least awful option and the one most in the national interest.  Mr. Bush attacks people with charges of following “enemy propaganda” because he has no credible answer to this option that does not make all the same mistakes the administration has been making on Iraq for four years.