Friday, October 08, 2004

Refocus: It all comes back to Iran. We apparently are not the only ones concerned with that country's development of nuclear weapons and other WMD. Saddam Hussein felt threatened by his neighbor, and he wanted to appear as if he had more WMD than he really did.

Also, Iranian intelligent officers have already been caught in Iraq guiding the terrorist insurgency and working with Al Qaeda.

Despite all the ties to Iran, that country and its activities were barely touched upon during the presidential debate that focused on foreign policy.

The focus instead is on whether the invasion of Iraq was a good idea. The lack of WMD in Iraq undercuts Bush's reasoning for the invasion. It wasn't the only reason he gave, but it's the one that convinced Americans that we had no time to waste.

Now we find out that Saddam Hussein was bluffing. He hoped that our belief that he had WMD would act as a deterrent rather than an instigator. He was gravely mistaken.

It was commonly held before the invasion that Iraq had WMD. Now that the conventional wisdom has been proven wrong, critics are blaming Bush, as if he made up the whole idea. I'm sorry, but if a crazy man says he has a gun and begins threatening others, police are right to shoot him, even if he only had a water pistol.

And for those of you criticizing Bush for not connecting the dots in time to prevent 9/11, you have no standing to condemn Bush for invading Iraq, given the intelligence that was available at the time.

Plus, the unfolding UN oil-for-food scam shows that many of our allies were accepting bribes from Saddam Hussein to let him ignore the sanctions. Russia, France and China -- all on the Security Council -- were the top three benefactors of Saddam Hussein's bribes. Despite what Kerry says, they are the real coalition of the coerced and the bribed.

The fact remains that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous dictator in the Middle East who sponsored international terrorism and continued to pose a threat to the region.

People say we are neglecting Al Qaeda. That's not true. We are continuing to pursue Al Qaeda. After they lost their home base in Afghanistan under Taliban protection, they scattered like cockroaches. Many are holed up in the mountainous region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Others have fled to other countries. They aren't carrying out their operations from one country anymore. So we can't pursue them using our military without declaring war on several countries at once. This is mostly an intelligence and special-forces operation, which is under way.

Also, Al Qaeda is not one cohesive organization all under the same structural leadership. Osama Bin Laden is a spiritual leader who also provides finances and offers some ideas. But most of the group's funding comes from a network of shady business, phony charitable groups, corrupt governments, and other fundraising methods. The cells that have been carrying out further terrorist attacks in Asia and Europe are run by autonomous offshoots of Al Qaeda that use the name because they support the similar goal.

I have always argued that the war in Iraq was justified mostly because Saddam Hussein has ties to terrorism and has broken the cease-fire terms he agreed to so he wouldn't have been removed from power after he invaded the sovereign country of Kuwait. But mostly, I believe that in order to win the War on Terrorism, we need to change the culture of the Middle East by planting the seed of democracy, capitalism, and freedom in that region. Because of Saddam Hussein's multiple misdeeds, Iraq was the perfect candidate to launch phase two of the war.

The WMD factor gave the invasion urgency. We already waited 12 years while Saddam Hussein played games with the inspectors. We then waited several more months while we pleaded for the United Nations to enforce its own resolutions. We had no reason to wait anymore.

With the new findings, critics will argue that we should have waited so inspectors could have sought the truth. But we tried that game for long enough. While a few more years maybe wouldn't have hurt, we would have had to deal with the problem eventually.

And Saddam Hussein admits that he was trying to end sanctions and restart his weapons program. So later on we would have had a much bigger problem on our hands.

In short, we did good. Despite your personal feelings toward President Bush, we have a lot to be proud of. We've protected ourselves, we've liberated a country, and we're taking major steps toward transforming an oppressive region so it won't continue to act as an incubator of hatred and terrorism that launches attacks against many people in the world. Now it's time to focus on the next step of the war.

P.S. I'll be watching the debates tonight, but I have no computer at home to blog a reaction. I'll post something on Monday. Have a good weekend.


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