This is an obvious point, but for some reason one that I haven’t seen made. Remember how, prior to the Iraq war, it was an article of faith among Democrats, liberals, newspaper reporters, the French, etc., that there was no connection whatsoever between Iraq and al Qaeda? The Islamists would never collaborate with the secular Baathists; their objectives were totally different; they couldn’t stand each other and had probably never met, let alone plotted together. As far as I can tell, that’s still the received wisdom on the left; as, for example, this Le Monde editorial:
What George Bush is criticized for is very simple: not only to have lied about the weapons of mass destruction–the official pretext for the war–as now publicly established by recent investigations; but also to have swayed American opinion, and tried to sway European opinions…into believing that the war on Iraq was part of the battle against al Qaeda and international terrorism. Everyone clearly sees, and now admits, that this link did not exist.
But wait! If al Qaeda had nothing to do with Saddam–couldn’t stand him, never met him–then why are they so hot to punish Spain for participating in the coalition to overthrow him? Indeed, it seems noteworthy that the very same people, in many instances, who had sworn that Iraq had nothing to do with al Qaeda immediatly announced, when the Madrid bombings took place, that al Qaeda had sought revenge for Spain’s participation in the Iraq war. How curious.
So, have these people changed their minds? Will tomorrow’s headlines say: “Saddam and al Qaeda–allies after all!” Somehow, I doubt it.