Did Bush’s war on terror policy stop a second terror attack? Is Obama right that US policy tended to help al Qaeda grow? Is Cheney an ogre? Is Obama a naive fool?
Maybe the right answers don’t fit neatly into place. Maybe US policy back under Bush both tended to empower al Qaeda, by making Muslims more militant, and discourage an attack on the US at the same time. Perhaps, bin Laden’s success at making the Muslim World more militant, made him in no hurry to attack the US a second time. However, was giving al Qaeda space to grow something really worth cheering about?
Yes, I agree with those who claim Bush made the world a mess, but in 2003 he withdrew US troops from Saudi Arabia. Troops there, was the main reason bin Laden vowed to attack the US a second time. Bush starting to withdraw some troops from Afghanistan, to fight in Iraq, pleased bin Laden in two ways. Bin Laden was far more interested in US troops leaving Afghanistan, where he spent many years then in mostly Shiite Iraq, and he was happy to see a secularist, Saddam Hussein, out of power. The first time President Bush might have really upset bin Laden was perhaps when he started sending a few drone aircraft into Pakistan, which might have not been enough for bin Laden to renew his desire to follow up 9/11 with a bigger attack just because of the drones.
When George Bush first became President, he wanted to look tough while avoiding war with Russia and China. Thus he came out with his “Axis of Evil” rhetoric. After 9/11 US troops in Afghanistan also made Bush look tough but it also whittled away Afghans being fed up with the Taliban. After 2003 Bush withdrew US troops from Saudi Arabia. US troops there was the main reason bin Laden stated for the 9/11 attack and why he vowed to attack again.
One of Bin Laden’s basic goals is to make moderate Muslims militant, craving a world of the 8th century where Muslims were quick to attack. Not that anyone in the 8th century would have used their child or helpless old mother as a combatant. Or attack where noncombatant Muslims could get hurt such as at two US Embassies in Africa at rush hour. Or get Muslims to fight with each other like al Qaeda is doing between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, or get drunk before a battle assignment like 9/11, or tax Opium.
When, then Majority Leader, Bill Frist was about to call for bipartisan prison detention reform after reviewing the secret additional Abu Ghraib photos, al Qaeda derailed it by posting Nick Berg’s beheading when Frist’s press conference was about to start, which derailed the reform efforts, meaning the torture of suspects is what bin Laden wanted the US to do so he could use it as a recruiting tool,
The day after the January 22, when Obama announced the decision to close Guantanamo, al Qaeda announced that a former terror detainee was to be second in command in the Arabian Peninsula (it turned out only nominally),
Again it seems to suggest bin Laden wanted US torture facilities to stay open for it’s propaganda purposes.
I personally think it is a mistake for the peace movement to assume that the al Qaeda threat is over, and that thus Cheney doesn’t know what he is talking about when he claims there will be another terror attack where Cheney can claim “I told you so”.
I got some more sober assessments. More likely then not, a real possibility of peace in the Middle East or a quick agreement with moderates, or semi-moderates and a US withdrawal from Iran and Afghanistan would make al Qaeda desperate to attack instead of waiting for the US to bankrupt itself.
We need to deal with the possibility that as soon as bin Laden’s dreams seem hopeless is when he will be the most desperate. Why should bin Laden just smash his own brains out when he loses like the al Qaeda member did in England when he bashed his truck into a strong steel gate at a military base where he had not much hope of killing anyone but himself, when other al Qaeda members can al least attack take a few vacationing Americans, on perhaps cruise ships in the Caribbean, with them. As al Qaeda diehards commit suicide in defeat, they will want to take as many of the enemy with them as the go.
Anyway, Bush policy of getting US troops out of Saudi Arabia shows that appeasement works even if done by someone who pretends to be tough all the time.