I don’t have a great deal to say about the recent National Intelligence Estimate that James Joyner hasn’t already said. Scott Ott, too, has it about it right: “Intel Report: Fighting Terrorists Creates Terrorists”.
I do wish that people would stop chiding us, the Administration, the President for not seizing on alternatives that we didn’t have. Why did we connive at the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran back in the 1950’s? Why didn’t we allow a peaceful, democratic regime to stay in place there? Because the Mossadegh regime wasn’t democratic and it was already collapsing. The alternatives as we saw them back then were to allow Iran to become a Soviet republic or collaborate in the re-installation of the Shah?
Why didn’t we invade Afghanistan in force? Because we couldn’t have done so without having the same experience the Soviets did there. Why didn’t we capture Osama bin Laden back in 2002? Because we couldn’t do so as long as Pakistan had an open border with Afghanistan and an area not under the control of the central government adjacent to Afghanistan.
Why did we invade Iraq at all? I’m one of those who disagreed with that decision from the outset but I understand the reasoning behind it. I didn’t think we had the political will to achieve any of the objectives stated for the invasion (other than the removal of Saddam Hussein and his regime) and I think that events are proving me right. But I do think that the realities of the attack on 9/11 required some kind of military action.
I don’t think we really have the alternative that some are presenting of just declaring victory and leaving Iraq. Or moving our troops to Kurdistan or Okinawa. The stakes are just too high.
I don’t think we really have the alternative of an invasion of Iran that some are urging (I don’t see that bombing the Iranian nuclear development facilities we know of will achieve any desireable goals and will have too many unforeseeable secondary effects). I also think that the alternative of simply letting events take their course in Iran is exceedingly bad.
I emphatically don’t believe that we have the alternative of just ignoring Islamist terrorism. And is it possible for us to decide to fight terrorism without creating more terrorists? How has the intelligence community contributed to making this decision possible?
Rick Moran reacts to the NIE with a lengthy, worthwhile post that ultimately notes that the report doesn’t say that we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq.
The Heretik thinks Rick is making excuses.