(This continues the topic of the 9/11 Blame Game we discussed earlier.)
Since leaving office, Dick Cheney has become Barack Obama’s harshest critic on national security. He accused President Obama of making our country less safe when Obama eliminated enhanced interrogation (torture) and moved to close Guantanamo. Cheney has essentially blamed, or at least heavily insinuated, that America’s next terrorist attack will be Barack Obama’s fault. And many republicans agree with him.
The Republicans may have good polling on national security, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they--specifically the Bush administration--will be blamed for the next attack. Why? Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since 2003 all terrorist roads lead through Iraq. An example is Younis Tsouli. A March/April Foreign Policy article describes Younis as, “one of the world’s most influential propagandists in Jihadi chat rooms.” He served as Abu Zarqawi’s “public relations mouthpiece on the web.” How did this unlikely English college student become a terrorist? Constant viewing of the “the online images of the war in Iraq” motivated him to become a terrorist. Repeated studies show the US-led invasion as horrendously unpopular in the Middle East and Muslim-world as a whole.
More important than inspiration, Iraq trains future jihadists. Just as Osama Bin Ladin’s generation trained in Afghanistan in the eighties, the next generation of jihadists will have trained in Iraq. Already, Arab fighters from Iraq move into Afghanistan to teach Afghanis the techniques of modern terrorism.
While Iraq motivated and trained future jihadists, Bush’s failure to stabilize Afghanistan will most likely go down as the largest strategic blunder of the Global War on Terror. Afghanistan was already a safe haven for terrorists before 9/11; nothing has changed since. After failing to capture Osama bin Laden, the Bush administration has failed to pacify the region.
If any terrorists strike America, these failures--not closing Guantanamo or restricting torture of terrorist suspects--will be to blame. But another attack is inevitable. Like earthquakes or other natural disasters, the question is not if but when (Although, we sincerely hope America and its allies are safe from terrorism, we are not naive enough to believe that is possible). Even if Bush had executed a perfect foreign policy agenda, American would still be at risk in the future.
America’s politicians and journalists should resist blaming either party for the attack. Terrorism should not be exploited by either political party.