Essays, Politics-Government.

Iraq as a Failed Anti-Terrorism Policy

The Bush administration has seriously hurt America’s anti-terrorism efforts with a failed policy in Iraq. For the past 18 months, the Bush administration has focused America’s military almost exclusively on Iraq, spending precious lives and money to fight internal Iraqi terrorism that was created by invading Iraq. Over 600 US troops and a half a trillion dollars have been lost on Iraq, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed, with no end in sight.

These resources could have been better spent, rather than on removing Saddam Hussein, on the real war on terror by targeting al Qaeda, stablilizing Afghanistan, beefing up internal U.S. security, focusing on known threats like Iran and Saudi Arabia, slowing the spread of radical Wahhabism, and building stronger international anti-terrorism cooperation

The Bush administration’s anti-terrorism efforts immediately following 9/11 were effective. Information sharing amongst U.S and allied intelligence agencies has increased. The Department of Homeland Security was formed to strengthen our internal security against terror attacks. America moved, with broad international support, to remove al Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan. However, subsequent anti-terrorism policy has shifted vast amounts of resources to the occupation of Iraq.

The Bush administration today describes Iraq as the centerpiece in the war on terror. The administration initially justified America’s attack on Iraq with arguments that Iraq harbored and trained terrorists, had weapons of mass destruction that could be given to terrorists, that Iraqi terrorists were actively seeking to attack U.S. targets, that conquering and stabilizing Iraq would be rapid, that America would be welcomed by the Iraqis, particularly the Shiites, etc.

None of these justifications have turned out to be true, as the administration has since admitted or events have demonstrated. Terrorists have moved into post-war Iraq, and al Qaeda is now claiming responsibility for multiple attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. Radical Islamists now have another rallying point: America now occupies an Islamic nation. Iraq was not a terrorist state before 9/11, but could easily become one with the instability introduced by the U.S.-led occupation. Because of this, the U.S. must remain in force in Iraq until it is stable, and even more lives and money must be diverted from the war on terror.

The administration has abandoned their main anti-terrorism arguments for removing Saddam. The administration is now saying that an important part of the war on terrorism is stopping terrorist acts within Iraq without acknowledging that that terror is the direct result of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. More telling, the administration has moved to the argument that Saddam Hussein was a madman and had to be removed, which has little to do with anti-terrorism.

Americans agree that we must fight terrorism and continue to take the fight to the terrorists. The Bush administration is sincere about protecting this country against international terror; unfortunately, the removal of Saddam from Iraq has failed as an anti-terrorism policy. America needs an anti-terrorism policy that decreases terrorist threats, not increases them.

The Bush administration owes the American public a clear defense of their decision to attack Iraq.

Note: I wrote this on April 6, 2004. It holds up as an examination of the George W. Bush administration’s failed Iraq policy.

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