Doug Bandow: Time to Acknowledge Consequences of Iraq


It’s good news that British authorities apparently have nabbed the four men who launched the most recent (unsuccessful) bombings in London. But the threat of terrorism will go on. And security professionals, in contrast to politicians, acknowledge how the Iraq conflict is encouraging additional violent attacks. Evidence of the connection keeps accumulating.
According to the Times in London:

IRAQ has become “a dominant issue” for Islamic extremists in Britain, MI5 has admitted.
In a fresh analysis of the threat facing Britain from international terrorist groups, the acknowledgement underlines the view of the security and intelligence services that Iraq has provided an extra motivating force for terrorists.
Contributing to the agency’s official website after the July 7 bombings, under the heading “Threat to the UK from international terrorism”, a team of MI5 analysts concludes: “Though they have a range of aspirations and ’causes’, Iraq is a dominant issue for a range of extremist groups and individuals in the UK and Europe.”
After the suicide bombings in London, Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said there was no connection between them and the war in Iraq. This conflicted with a leaked assessment by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, based at MI5 and run by a Ministry of Defence official, which claimed, three weeks before July 7 that Iraq was continuing to act “as a focus of a range of terrorist related activities in Britain”.
The latest MI5 assessment sticks to the view that there is a link between Iraq and terrorist activities. In their website analysis, the MI5 officers add: “Some individuals who support the insurgency are known to have travelled to Iraq in order to fight against coalition forces. It is possible that they may return to the UK and consider mounting attacks here.”

Obviously, this analysis doesn’t mean terrorism is justified. (One shouldn’t have to say that, but with war advocates apt to take the slightest sign of opposition as objective support for the terrorists, it must be said.) This doesn’t mean that terrorists don’t articulate other grievances. This doesn’t even mean one can’t justify the Iraq war. But one needs to acknowledge the consequences of the conflict and honestly balance its costs and benefits.
So when the President’s argues that Iraq has become the central front in the war on terrorism, he is right. But only because of his own policies, most obviously the ill-considered decision to invade Iraq. In saying that we now must remain there, the President is like the man who murders his parents and then requests the court’s mercy since he’s an orphan.
Doug Bandow