Thomas Joscelyn, in the Weekly Standard, refutes the recent democratic justification for defeatism: the claim that “Iraq is the wrong battlefield.”
Those cowards and defeatists would be just as unhappy, and just as eager to press for withdrawal, if the US invaded Waziristan. They just feel safe pointing to it as an alternative, because they feel certain that no US administration would invade Pakistan.
The leading Democratic presidential contenders have voiced a new conventional wisdom in recent weeks: The war in Iraq has little or nothing to do with defeating al Qaeda. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have embraced this view, as has the New York Times. It is dangerously wrong. …
Just last week, the summary of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) representing the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community was released. It states that the organization “Al Qaeda in Iraq” is the terror network’s “most visible and capable affiliate.” Al Qaeda’s leadership still desires to strike the U.S. homeland and “will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)” to do so. “In addition,” the intelligence estimate notes, al Qaeda relies on Al Qaeda in Iraq to “energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.”
These judgments are obviously inconsistent with Obama’s belief that America is fighting on the “wrong battlefield.” But the judgments of the intelligence community have been wrong before–witness the October 2002 NIE on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. So we should be wary of taking this latest pronouncement at face value.
The NIE’s conclusions are, however, supported by a source that cannot be ignored: al Qaeda’s two principal leaders. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri have repeatedly called Iraq the “front line” in their war against Western civilization. Indeed, a review of their statements–readily accessible in translation in the anthologies edited by Bruce Lawrence (Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden) and Laura Mans field (His Own Words: Translations and Analysis of the Writings of Dr. Ayman Al Zawahiri) and from other public sources–confirms that they have made Iraq their fight. …
Bin Laden and Zawahiri’s own words tell us that the American project in Iraq jeopardizes everything their group stands for: These two top leaders of al Qaeda have promised the people of the Middle East that al Qaeda will protect Muslim soil from the “Crusader-Zionist” invaders, even if the region’s rulers will not, and even if doing so meant cooperating with the “apostate” Saddam.
Zawahiri believes that Iraq is al Qaeda’s best opportunity for establishing a true Islamist state in the heart of the Middle East. Democracy does not belong in the region, the two men say, and only an Islamic government based on sharia law is acceptable in Iraq. The mujahedeen will drive the Americans out of Iraq using the same tactics they used to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. America’s leaders and soldiers are weak, al Qaeda says. They are looking for a way to run from the fight in Iraq, and they will do so, bin Laden exults, while the “whole world is watching.”
The whole world, that is, except the leading Democratic candidates for president.
Read the whole thing.