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Bush contributes to Al-Qaeda and Terrorism

Bush contributes to Al-Qaeda and Terrorism

By José María Rodríguez González

Who is our enemy in Iraq’s civil war? In the beginning the enemy was Sadam Hussein and his army. We defeated them very quickly. But our invasion invited both Al-Qaeda and the Mahdi Army. They are now part of Iraq’s civil war. Fighting against both of them in this conflict only buries us in a deeper hole than the one we already are in. How can we win a war that is not ours anymore?

Iraqis could not decide their destiny in a democratic manner, because the country is burdened with too much ethnic resentment, revenge, injustice and historical confrontation. A decision will only be reached by the law of the strongest.

Calling the Sunny insurgency or the Palestine resistance "terrorist" is a great favor to real terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda. The Sunni's, as well as the Palestinians, are fighting for survival and historical recognition, while Al-Qaeda wants to change the power order of the world.

Paradoxically, in declaring war on terrorism, Bush acts to further it by destabilizing countries in which terrorism has a foothold. The people of those countries will only be mobilized to defend their sovereignty, even if that mistakenly leads them to defend, or at least harbor, terrorism. You don't make friends or build democracy by undermining a country’s people. We have to stop Bush's political game of adding enemies only in order to fight them. It costs America billions of dollars, not to mention precious lives. To adopt such a strategy, you'd have to believe that Superman is not a comic strip.

The war in Iraq was imposed with the pretext that Hussein was allied with Al-Qaeda, supported terrorism and had weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Hussein supported Palestinian families of suicide bombers, but did not participate more directly in the conflict. He was a declared enemy of Israel, but not nearly as powerful or dangerous as the Israelis and the Washington neocons painted him. There was never any real sympathy between Al-Qaeda with its religious fanaticism, and the basically secular regime of Sadam Hussein. Al-Qaeda entered Iraq only because Bush opened a window of opportunity by removing Hussein.

Declaring Al-Qaeda the U.S.A's. "enemy number one" only served to build its worldwide prestige and present it with an opportunity to recruit new members.

Al-Qaeda's first success was to get from Mr. Bush the war they were strategically looking for. Then, they were blessed by his split of the war on terrorism in two nations, war in Iraq and war in Afghanistan.

Today, Al-Qaeda is a player in Iraq's civil war -- a conflict compounded by a variety of Sunni insurgency groups with sophisticated intelligence and effective weapons. Shiite militia armies are now bigger and better trained than ever. All this makes Iraq the most complex area of conflict in the world. It is not the Iraq Mr. Bush found in 2003, but the Iraq his incompetence has given us.

It was an unforgivable and costly error to give the U.S. army the impossible mission of defeating not another army, but Al-Qaeda, which is not an army, instead a phantom group of terrorists scattered around, and not present in every inch of the world. To defeat Al-Qaeda you require infiltration, interception of communications and frustration of their operations. You do not need an army. Putting an army against Al-Qaeda plays in the Al-Qaeda’s game. It is a costly and irreversible overkill that keeps Al-Qaeda prestige high, Al-Qaeda conquers only by hiding, and establishes its existence by simply succeeding in sporadic low budget operations. Crippling Al-Qaeda calls for effective counterintelligence and police, not military action.

Al-Qaeda is not a threat to Iraq. In fact, it has no chances of dominating the Sunny insurgency. Al-Qaeda is a shadowy organization with an impressive ability to mount spectacular and successful terrorist operations. But it has no experience in state administration or institutional organization. In Afghanistan Al-Qaeda concentrated on what they know best, terrorism training, while living the government to the Taliban. The government is now gone, but the Taliban resurgence has adopted the terrorist tactics of Al-Qaeda. We are not winning the war against terrorism.

Bush leaded us in the opposite direction. No more course around the bushes. Immediate reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq, on a strict timetable, will demonstrate to the region that we mean business in seeking a workable solution. As its military withdraws, the U.S. may find that it has a role to play as a mediator and as a business partner of the future Iraq. Switching from a failed military campaign to a strong diplomatic offensive involving Iraq’s neighboring countries is the best way -- perhaps the only way -- to prevent Iraq’s civil war from spilling over into the Middle East and the Gulf states. It’s this or greater successes for terrorism.


(Political scientist, analyst of U.S. foreign policy)

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