Linking Iraq and the ‘War on Terror’

Briefly, the Washington Post and New York Times are reporting a recent National Intelligence Estimate titled “”Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” gives Iraq the real credit in the ‘War on Terror’ it deserves:

A 30-page National Intelligence Estimate completed in April cites the “centrality” of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the insurgency that has followed, as the leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks and cells that are united by little more than an anti-Western agenda. Rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, it concludes that the situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position, according to officials familiar with the classified document.

The White House conveniently ignored what they had been told when publishing two documents during the PR campaign that was the rememberance of 9/11 (see comments here).

Comments from General Hayden, before he was CIA chief, and others in the past seem to have stemmed from this report. At the time, they were contradicting the rosy picture the Administration was painting and largely ignored.

It is still amazing to think some don’t see a connection between our actions and terrorism. Comments on my post ‘How not to Conduct Cultural Warfare‘ that concerned a video about Haditha focused on the ‘humorous’ nature of the video and dismissal of Sunni or Shi’a support of the US (“a fool’s errand”). 

Between news of the April NIE indicating Iraq as an engine for extremism and a Pentagon assessment showing Sunni support for the insurgency increasing more than five-fold in the last three years (14% to 75%), how does one not connect the dots between action and reaction with our foreign policy?

How does one not see connections between a failure to attempt to secure the peace, implement law and order, virtually no attempt to halt looting, complete irresponsibility in reconstruction, massive demobilization and unemployment of trained warriors, failure to protect known weapons caches, failing to provide basic essential services, and the creation of power vacuums as not contributing to the insurgency? Add on top of that indignities of obvious other newsmaking encounters and facilities and how can the dots not be connected?

I was sitting in on a small conference with the intelligence community last year and a prominent member of the IC railed against the phrase ‘connecting the dots’. He was frustrated with that analogy because the child’s game the name comes from and intentionally implies has labelled dots to serialize actions. The IC, he argued, does not know what the end product will look like and isn’t given instructions on which dots to connect. Instead, it must infer and figure it out. In the case of the insurgency in Iraq and global extremism, how could one not see the next step from each prior? Action–> Reaction.

Each week there is more information on the failed Excursion into Iraq. It is even more sad to think of all the members of the armed forces and the civilian contractors who gave their lives in a theater where the enemy was effectively of our own making. The peace could have been won before Mission Accomplished. And despite what one might say that winning a war is not the same as winning the peace because of the ‘changing nature of war’, Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, and Mao all agree on the necessity to treat the captives well and to not create enemies through mistreatment. Yes, even Clausewitz, dashed to the side by those that say ‘4GW’ is a new way of war, nailed this outcome. Perhaps 4GW’ers should go back and re-read the Dead Prussian.

The dots were there, labelled, and with flashing numbers.

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