Monday, June 21, 2004

Al Qaeda-Iraq Links

New evidence came to light yesterday regarding a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime (full story available here.) Apparently, Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, a high-placed lieutenant colonel in the Fedayeen Saddam (Hussein's highly trained irregular warfare volunteer special forces), was also a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda and attended a planning meeting for the September 11th attacks held in Kuala Lampur in January of 2000.

This new bit of evidence is helpful in terms of proving after the fact the need to go to war, but it is not necessary or helpful to be thinking in such retrospective terms, nor is the press' skepticism of the war and the reasoning behind it a healthy one. Whatever may have been said publicly by the Administration, we went to war knowing two realities, first, that there is a large group of Middle Easterners fanatically dedicated to the destruction of Israel, America, and everything the West stands for, even to the point of sacrificing their own lives and those of their friends. Second, there was a rogue dictator who had proved his militarism in the past, was bent on developing weapons of mass destruction, and was harboring delusions of territorial expansion. These two menaces not only shared the same enemy, but the same culture, faith, and region of the world. Their mere proximity to each other was too dangerous to be allowed to continue given the reality of weapons that can kill thousands or even millions in one strike, and the reality of Islamists who have already demonstrated that they dream of martyrdom in the slaughter of innocent Americans. That there were no overt ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq was and is irrelevant -- what is more crucial is that there could have been, and there likely would have been in the future. That is, after all, what preemption is all about, stopping something before it can develop.

But the press and liberal Democrats do not understand the concept of preemption and apparently cannot see, even after September 11th, the dangers we face. The press is already attempting to downplay the new evidence of a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. In his article for the UPI, Shaun Waterman quotes an army of liberal pundits. Peter Bergen says that "Shakir is a pretty common name," and that "perhaps al-Qaida had penetrated Saddam's security apparatus." Why would Al Qaeda want to 'penetrate' Saddam's Fedayeen, a paramilitary force trained in guerilla tactics? If Al Qaeda wanted to gather intelligence on Saddam and his regime, that would not be the place to do it. Waterman also downplays the significance of the Fedayeen Saddam, saying "the Fedayeen were a special unit of volunteers given basic training in irregular warfare," and quoting Michael Eisenstadt to the effect that the Fedayeen were merely a group of "thugs and bumpkins." This is the same Fedayeen Saddam that the press a little over a year ago described as Saddam's crack paramilitary security apparatus, the loyalists still intact after the topple of Saddam's regime that could prevent the emergence of a stable Iraq. Then, the Fedayeen were a tool the press used to attack the President's policy and predict a negative outcome for the President's war. Now that an al-Qaeda link has been found in the Fedayeen, the press attempts to distance the group from Saddam and downplay its importance so as to undercut the significance of the link. The Fedayeen is suddenly a group of 'bumpkins' that received only a 'basic training' in guerilla tactics. It is as if the press hates George Bush more than it hopes for victory for America and the Iraqi people.

John Kerry, in the meantime, demands that the President give "a fundamental explanation about why he rushed to war for a purpose it now turns out is not supported by the facts." Neither, apparently, does John Kerry understand the concept of preemption. In a world of evil men and horrible weapons, we can't afford to wait for clear and concrete evidence to come to light before we take action, but rather we must act to stop such a combination before it is even contemplated. Once there is clear evidence, it is too late. This is not a law enforcement action, but a war. We are not trying to punish criminals, we are trying to stop an evil menace from devouring the very souls of an entire region of peoples and taking the lives of innocent Americans en masse. This is a war of survival, and 'clear evidence' is a luxury we can't afford.

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