The headline speaks for itself:
Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.
The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.
An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.
The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.
To use the knuckle-chewing language that permeates rightwing commentary I could say that people who rooted for the Iraq war were rooting for America to lose in the war on terror. But I am not that stupid. I think that people who supported the Iraq war supported it for any of a thousand reasons, most of them perfectly well-intentioned. Some beileved in the 9/11 connection, not necessarily through any fault of their own but rather the intentionally manipulative language of Dick Cheney and similarly derelict leaders. Many bought the threat argument and some believed that invading Iraq very well could make the middle east a safer, freer place.
Those are fine motives. People who genuinely believed any of those things have every reason to feel disappointed and not, a priori, blame themselves for what has happened. In all seriousness nobody could have anticipated an operation as feckless and self-gratifyingly incompetent as Rumsfeld’s occupation authority. Recent books such as George Packer’s excellent and non-partisan Assassin’s Gate describe a vacuum of leadership that makes the most jaded cynic feel inadequate.
However, and despite every repulsive slur tossed at opponents of the Iraq war, most of us opposed the war because we felt that it would distract from the more pressing threat. When Iraq preparations started America had not yet finished its engagement with active elements of the people who attacked us, as shown by the reassignment of bin Laden’s personal Special Forces team to Iraq and his escape from Tora Bora. Some have called the new war a violation of international law, an intentional act of deception, whatever. I call it doing a half-assed job.
The people who called Iraq war opponents objectively pro-terrorist, anti-semitic (that came up frequently vis a vis the neocons), pro-Saddam and anti-American have not stopped and likely never will. Call it a voluntary stupid badge. Most who opposed the war did so because we thought that precisely what did happen, could happen, and in that case at least it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to be right.