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Bush’s Top Ten

Juan Cole is Professor of History at the University of Michigan, a highly respected historian and Middle Eastern analyst. Here are his Top Ten mistakes made by Bush and Cheney towards Bin Laden. I post these on my blog in the spirit of debate and and discussion. I think Cole articulates a pretty powerful indictment against this administration. What do you think?

“Because they exaggerate the scale of the conflict, and because they use it cynically, Bush and Cheney have grossly mismanaged the struggle against al-Qaeda and Muslim radicalism after September 11. Here are their chief errors:

1. Bush vastly exaggerates al-Qaeda’s size, sweep and importance, while failing to invest in genuine counterterrorist measures such as port security or security for US nuclear plants.

2. Bush could have eradicated the core al-Qaeda group by putting resources into the effort in 2002. He did not, leaving al-Zawahiri and Bin Laden to taunt us, inspire our enemies and organize for years after the Taliban were defeated. It would be as though Truman had allowed Hitler to broadcast calls for terrorism against the US from some hiding place as late as 1949.

3. Bush opened a second front against Iraq before he had put Afghanistan on a sound footing.

4. Bush gutted the US constitution, tossing out the Fourth Amendment, by assiduously spying on Americans without warrants. None of those spying efforts has been shown to have resulted in any security benefits for the United States. Bush says that he wants to watch anyone who calls the phone numbers associated with al-Qaeda. But some of those phone numbers were for food delivery or laundry. We want a judge to sign off on a wire tap so that innocent Americans are not spied on by the government.

5. Bush attempted to associate the threat from al-Qaeda with Iran and Syria. Iran is a fundamentalist Shiite country that hates al-Qaeda. Syria is a secular Arab nationalist country that hates al-Qaeda. Indeed, Syria tortured al-Qaeda operatives for Bush, until Bush decided to get Syria itself. Bush and Cheney have cynically used a national tragedy to further their aggressive policies of Great Power domination.

6. Bush by invading Iraq pushed the Iraqi Sunni Arabs to desert secular Arab nationalism. Four fifths of the Sunni Arab vote in the recent election went to hard line Sunni fundamentalist parties. This development is unprecedented in Iraqi history. Iraqi Sunni Arabs are nationalists, whether secular or religious, and there is no real danger of most of them joining al-Qaeda. But Bush has spread political Islam and has strengthened its influence.

7. Bush diverted at least one trillion dollars in US security spending from the counter-terrorism struggle against al-Qaeda to the Iraq debacle, at the same time that he has run up half a trillion dollar annual deficits, contributing to a spike in inflation, harming the US economy, and making the US less effective in counterterrorism.

8. Counterterrorism requires friendly allies and close cooperation. The Bush administration alienated France, Germany and Spain, along with many Middle Eastern nations that had long waged struggles of their own against terrorist groups. Bush is widely despised and has left America isolated in the world. Virtually all the publics of all major nations hate US policy. One poll showed that in secular Turkey where Muslim extremism is widely reviled and Bin Laden is generally disliked, the public preferred Bin Laden to Bush. Bush is widely seen as more dangerous than al-Qaeda. This image is bad for US counterterrorism efforts.

9. Bush transported detainees to torture sites in Eastern Europe. Under European Union laws, both torture and involvement in torture are illegal,and European officials can be tried for these crimes. HOw many European counterterrorism officials will want to work closely with the Americans if, for all they know, this association could end in jail time? Indeed, in Washington it is said that a lot of our best CIA officers are leaving, afraid that they are being ordered to do things that are illegal, and for which they could be tried once another administration comes to power in Washington.

10. Bush’s failure to capture Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri allows them to continue to grandstand, to continue to frighten the public, to continue to affect financial markets, and to continue to plot. Al-Zawahiri almost certainly plotted the 7/7 London subway bombings himself, and gloated about it when he issued Muhammad Siddique Khan’s suicide statement. Misplaced Bush priorities are getting our allies hit. The CIA is reduced to firing predators at villages because our counterterrorism efforts have been starved for funds by the Iraq quagmire. If al-Qaeda does pull off another American operation, it may well give Bush and Cheney an opportunity to destroy the US constitution altogether, finally giving Bin Laden his long-sought revenge on Americans for the way he believes they have forced Palestinians and other Muslims to live under lawless foreign domination or local tyranny.”

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  1. The New Tone of San Luis Obispo
    January 26, 2006 at 5:40 am

    Here are some corrections for you Mr. Dave.

    1. Bush vastly exaggerates al-Qaeda’s size, sweep and importance, while failing to invest in genuine counterterrorist measures such as port security or security for US nuclear plants.

    Fact: THe idea that AQ is not a real threat to our country is silly. Nuclear power plants are well protected, while there can surely be improvements in the ports and borders to keep out unwanted visitors.

    2. Bush could have eradicated the core al-Qaeda group by putting resources into the effort in 2002. He did not, leaving al-Zawahiri and Bin Laden to taunt us, inspire our enemies and organize for years after the Taliban were defeated. It would be as though Truman had allowed Hitler to broadcast calls for terrorism against the US from some hiding place as late as 1949.

    This is a straw man, since Hitler fought in uniforms in a land that was defeated by killing off the army of Hitler. Are you suggesting that Hitler’s war machine was not the reason he did stay in power so long? No, they had to be defeated. If Hitler has hidden in the mountains the area the size of California, perhaps he could have gotten away for some time also. AQ has been diminished. Too bad Clinton did not accept him, but as he said, he begged the Saudis to take him. (how could have he begged to have them take Bin Laden from the Sudan unless he was detained?

    3. Bush opened a second front against Iraq before he had put Afghanistan on a sound footing.

    Afganistan seems to be doing well, with minor problems. We cannot take years and years on each country that helps terroism. Iran may be next…just like in WWII, Japan and Germany and Italy.

    4. Bush gutted the US constitution, tossing out the Fourth Amendment, by assiduously spying on Americans without warrants. None of those spying efforts has been shown to have resulted in any security benefits for the United States. Bush says that he wants to watch anyone who calls the phone numbers associated with al-Qaeda. But some of those phone numbers were for food delivery or laundry. We want a judge to sign off on a wire tap so that innocent Americans are not spied on by the government.

    Who really cares? Why keep agents busy filling out forms for 1000’s possibly of instances in an age of disposable cell phones. Pulling conversations out of the air and not knowing who is calling who but getting the content of the messages is not a problem at this point. They are not interested in food conversations, about grandma, or what you thought about Humpback Mountain, but bombs, airplanes, etc. You sure did not mind when that nice elderly couple listened to Newt Gingrich plan their attacks of democrates, then had their handy recorder, then sent it to Jim Write, who sent it to the Washington Post did you. They were just out for a trip to the mall. Privacy, only for certain AQ types I guess, and democrats.

    5. Bush attempted to associate the threat from al-Qaeda with Iran and Syria. Iran is a fundamentalist Shiite country that hates al-Qaeda. Syria is a secular Arab nationalist country that hates al-Qaeda. Indeed, Syria tortured al-Qaeda operatives for Bush, until Bush decided to get Syria itself. Bush and Cheney have cynically used a national tragedy to further their aggressive policies of Great Power dominatio

    Oh, is that why the foreign fighters have been helping the AQ in Iraq. Oh, and Syria has been helping evil Bush too. This is a wild accusation.

    6. Bush by invading Iraq pushed the Iraqi Sunni Arabs to desert secular Arab nationalism. Four fifths of the Sunni Arab vote in the recent election went to hard line Sunni fundamentalist parties. This development is unprecedented in Iraqi history. Iraqi Sunni Arabs are nationalists, whether secular or religious, and there is no real danger of most of them joining al-Qaeda. But Bush has spread political Islam and has strengthened its influence.

    Oh, I know, in the past under Mr. Saddam, they all wanted him to be president, and in Fact voted for him 99.9% of the time, and the .1%, were killed or tortured. (probably by Mr. Rumsfield)

    7. Bush diverted at least one trillion dollars in US security spending from the counter-terrorism struggle against al-Qaeda to the Iraq debacle, at the same time that he has run up half a trillion dollar annual deficits, contributing to a spike in inflation, harming the US economy, and making the US less effective in counterterrorism.

    Um, we are spending too much, but we are fighting AQ in Iraq.

    8. Counterterrorism requires friendly allies and close cooperation. The Bush administration alienated France, Germany and Spain, along with many Middle Eastern nations that had long waged struggles of their own against terrorist groups. Bush is widely despised and has left America isolated in the world. Virtually all the publics of all major nations hate US policy. One poll showed that in secular Turkey where Muslim extremism is widely reviled and Bin Laden is generally disliked, the public preferred Bin Laden to Bush. Bush is widely seen as more dangerous than al-Qaeda. This image is bad for US counterterrorism efforts.

    Ok, the great nations of Germany and France don’t like us, and they were in a mess. Both received profits from the Oil for Food program, and both support Iraq and Iran in their quest for nuclear weapons, under the table that is. The Russians were in Bagdad during the invasion helping Saddam with GPS jammers. New Zealand and Australia are pro US from the people that I know there. Canada just kicked out their worthless government progressives with help from Karl Rove or Bush I am sure, and I am sure sorry the Cindy Sheehan is holding hands with Hugo Chaves in the great country of Venezuela. Don’t like the USA, too bad, don’t attack us or support our enemies and you can go your merry way!

    9. Bush transported detainees to torture sites in Eastern Europe. Under European Union laws, both torture and involvement in torture are illegal,and European officials can be tried for these crimes. HOw many European counterterrorism officials will want to work closely with the Americans if, for all they know, this association could end in jail time? Indeed, in Washington it is said that a lot of our best CIA officers are leaving, afraid that they are being ordered to do things that are illegal, and for which they could be tried once another administration comes to power in Washington.

    Whatever. Are these the really good CIA types like Valerie Wilson who sent her Husband to drink tea in Nigeria and came back to publish a bogus report in the newspaper to try and discredit Bush? Maybe it is the Jamie Gerrellick types that don’t think it is fair to have the CIA talk to the FBI and tell then that there are some green card holding a-holes taking flight lessons and we need to kill them, but it would have been presumpive to do that I guess, and 3000 people are dead because we did not violate those 19 Saudi green card carrying cowards privacy rights!

    10. Bush’s failure to capture Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri allows them to continue to grandstand, to continue to frighten the public, to continue to affect financial markets, and to continue to plot. Al-Zawahiri almost certainly plotted the 7/7 London subway bombings himself, and gloated about it when he issued Muhammad Siddique Khan’s suicide statement. Misplaced Bush priorities are getting our allies hit. The CIA is reduced to firing predators at villages because our counterterrorism efforts have been starved for funds by the Iraq quagmire. If al-Qaeda does pull off another American operation, it may well give Bush and Cheney an opportunity to destroy the US constitution altogether, finally giving Bin Laden his long-sought revenge on Americans for the way he believes they have forced Palestinians and other Muslims to live under lawless foreign domination or local tyranny.”

    We need to find, kill, and dispose of any terrorist, and kill their support. The only way to do so is to do it, not to talk about it, be afraid to listen to their conversations in any form to any person, or to care about them or their illegitimate children. AQ and their offsping should be removed from the grimy piece of ground they occupy. Any supporting people of AQ should be kicked out of this country and never be allowed to return.

    These are my thought about your thoughts. Have a great day 🙂

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