.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, August 24, 2003

SADDAM AL-QUAEDA CONNECTION UPDATE I've just found this article in the Weekly Standard, home of the necon warmongers, which gives a good summary of the links between Saddam's regime and al-Quaeda. The author, Stephen Hayes, gives the Bush administration some credit:

IF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION had been out to hype the threat from an al Qaeda-Saddam link, it stands to reason that it would have used every shred of incriminating evidence at its disposal. Instead, the administration was restrained in its use of available intelligence.

Though that is just the problem of course, isn't it. The Bushies were indeed "restrained" in the use of the available intelligence to the extent that they showed us virtually none, and consequently it was hard to believe there was a linkage. On the other hand many reports in the press had presented stories that suggested this link did really exist. The problem with this was however that no one quite managed to prove the existence of the link beyond doubt and that the link was systematic and long term rather than on a sporadic basis. Part of the pro-war governments' problem was that the public was only interested in al-Quaeda. This is wrong as the terrorist threat is not limited to al-Quaeda and there is fairly hard evidence that Saddam has been pretty busy in that respect:

Iraqi defectors had been saying for years that Saddam's regime trained "non-Iraqi Arab terrorists" at a camp in Salman Pak, south of Baghdad. U.N. inspectors had confirmed the camp's existence, including the presence of a Boeing 707. Defectors say the plane was used to train hijackers; the Iraqi regime said it was used in counterterrorism training. Sabah Khodada, a captain in the Iraqi Army, worked at Salman Pak. In October 2001, he told PBS's "Frontline" about what went on there. "Training is majorly on terrorism. They would be trained on assassinations, kidnapping, hijacking of airplanes, hijacking of buses, public buses, hijacking of trains and all other kinds of operations related to terrorism. . . . All this training is directly toward attacking American targets, and American interests."

Well yes, but what about al-Quaeda? The problem is that governments can’t go around justifying all sorts of domestic security measures with the threat of bin Laden striking again just because that is the only face that Western publics are capable of putting to the notion of international terrorism. Governments need to put more effort into explaining that the conflict we are in is not about finding Ossama bin Laden but goes far wider than the narrow issue of al-Quaeda. Broadly speaking it is about creating a new global security order that has become necessary since the end of the Cold War but that was neglected until September 11, 2001, because it was nearly impossible to mobilise public support, particularly in the US where it matters most. But of course it might well be that the dwindling support for the war could be resuscitated by showing the Saddam-al Quaeda linkage now. After all, as Hayes writes:

Some administration officials argue privately that the case for linkage is so devastating that when they eventually unveil it, the critics will be embarrassed and their arguments will collapse. But to rely on this assumption is to run a terrible risk. Already, the absence of linkage is the conventional wisdom in many quarters. Once "everybody knows" that Saddam and bin Laden had nothing to do with each other, it becomes extremely difficult for any release of information by the U.S. government to change people's minds.

And that job's going to be ever more difficult the longer they wait and the longer those wmds don't start appearing Iraq. Our governments' behaviour has been a real cause of annoyance for those who try to support their security policy efforts.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?