Friday, February 02, 2007

The Myth of an al Qaeda Takeover of Iraq

Here's something worth a read, echoing something I've said for a while now, from the libertarian Cato Institute:

In his State of the Union Address, President Bush warned that if the U.S. fails in Iraq, al Qaeda will gain a safe haven from which to launch attacks against America. It is an argument that the President, other members of the administration, and neoconservative hawks have been using for years.

...The notion that a Shiite-Kurdish-dominated government would tolerate Iraq becoming a safe haven for al Qaeda is improbable on its face. Even if U.S. troops left Iraq, the successor government would continue to be dominated by Kurds and Shiites, since they make up more than 80 percent of Iraq's population. And, in marked contrast to the situation under Saddam Hussein, they now control the military and police.

At best, al Qaeda could hope for a tenuous presence in predominantly Sunni areas of the country while being incessantly stalked and harassed by government forces -- and probably hostile Iraqi Sunnis as well. That doesn't exactly sound like a reliable base of operations for attacks on America.

Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican of Nebraska, has it right. "I have never been persuaded to believe that whether we stay there six months, a year, or two years, that if we would leave, that somehow Iraq would turn into a haven for terrorists."

His skepticism is well placed.

The notion of al Qaeda using Iraq as a sanctuary is a specter -- a canard that the perpetrators of the current catastrophe use to frighten people into supporting a fatally flawed, and seemingly endless, nation-building debacle.
The article points to recent polling that says 94 percent of Iraqi Sunnis, 98 percent of Shiite respondents and 100 percent of Kurdish respondents had somewhat or very unfavorable views of Al Qaida.

As Shirrin, who sent me the link, says "it is pretty ludicrous to suggest that a country which has managed to defeat the efforts of more than 100,000 extremely well armed troops of the sole world superpower can be overpowered by approximately one tenth as many far less well armed fanatics."