Please don’t miss this Mort Zuckerman editorial analyzing Richard Clarke’s two lines of attack on the Bush adminstration: (1) that the administration was slow to come up with a plan for dealing with the terrorist threat before 9/11 and (2) that the decision to go to war against Iraq has undermined the war on terrorism.
Zuckerman finds no merit in either charge. As to the first, Clarke has acknowledged that prior to 9/11 the Bush administration had broadened the strategy to combat terrorism through a plan that, among other things, called for the rapid elimination of al Qaeda rather than its slower erosion. And the president had already authorized a fivefold increase in CIA funding to pursue al Qaeda. Clarke has also acknowledged that the additional steps he wanted to see taken would not have prevented 9/11.
As to Iraq, Zuckerman notes that “the presumption in Clarke’s charge is that terrorists, in pursuit of their program of mass murder, would refrain from conspiring with enemies who could have given them access to weapons of mass destruction.” He concludes that Bush’s decision to reject that presumption was correct, since “we are now facing a group of religious terrorists consumed by a culture of death, mostly from the Arab world, in a world without clear battle lines.” Under these conditions, “Going into Iraq was a key step in the fight against Arab radicalism because Iraq was at the core of Arab rejectionism of, and hostility to, the West. Saddam Hussein represented a threat that was not based exclusively on his presumed possession of banned weapons but on his outsized ambitions, his unrestrained tyranny, his radicalism, and his hatred of the West.”
This summary does not do full justice to Zuckerman’s piece. You should read the whole thing.
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