Monday, June 30, 2008

The Forgotten War with Al Qaeda

When this nation invaded Iraq, some of us spoke out against the war on moral grounds - the argument for war relied on a new, morally-dubious, principle of "preventive" war, and on equally dubious assertions about Saddam's nukes and his alleged role in the 9/11 attacks.

Some of us saw the war as an excuse to grab the oil resources of a corrupt and virtually defenseless Arab government. Others viewed the invasion as a misguided attempt to correct George H. W. Bush's decision not to go to Baghdad at the end of the Gulf War - the personal mission of a son to expiate the perceived failures of his father.

And some of us - even some Republicans - opposed the war because it might distract our attention and divert resources from the fight with Al Qaeda and its Taliban ally in Afghanistan - a just war and a necessary fight.

In my case, all of the above applied - still apply.

As we continue to plod along without purpose in Iraq, I am very concerned about the failure of our efforts in Afghanistan. Without sufficient resources or adequate leadership, we allowed Al Qaeda to move their base of operations into Pakistan, and have seen the return of the Taliban to large areas of Afghanistan.

Assuming that Barack Obama will be the next President, I expect that we will finally begin to move - albeit slowly - to the exits. I wonder whether we will have the will to press the fight against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, once we have begun our withdrawal from Iraq. Will we forget why we went to war in the first place?

An article in today's NY Times describes the ongoing failure of our military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan:

Leading terrorism experts have warned that it is only a matter of time before a major terrorist attack planned in the mountains of Pakistan is carried out on American soil.

“The United States faces a threat from Al Qaeda today that is comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Seth Jones, a Pentagon consultant and a terrorism expert at the RAND Corporation.

“The base of operations has moved only a short distance, roughly the difference from New York to Philadelphia.”

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posted at 7:17:00 AM by Neil

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