- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2006

Blame America first

Georgie Anne Geyer’s latest fairy tale, (“Iran next in line?” Commentary, yesterday) would have us believe that U.S. security now is far worse than prior to September 11 almost entirely due to the liberation of Iraq. In fact, the prior decade saw the rise of the very problems of terrorism and nuclear proliferation that so concern her. For example:

• The Taliban fought a civil war and came to power in 1996 with funding by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and became the sanctuary for al Qaeda while they developed the plans for the attacks of September 11;

• Pakistan and India both exploded nuclear bombs, catching the Clinton administration’s intelligence community flatfooted;

• North Korea was allowed to hide its diverted plutonium stocks while a “pretend” agreement was put in place which was not enforceable, which then led to Pyongyang’s secret uranium enrichment program;

• The Khan network out of Pakistan and elsewhere opened a “Nukes ‘R Us” program;

• Libya pursued an aggressive nuclear weapons program, securing technology from the very Khan network the Clinton administration ignored;

• China and Russia engaged in massive proliferation of missile, military and nuclear technology to rogue states such as North Korea and Iran, despite the administration asserting the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission had solved everything;

• Terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies dramatically increased, while two intifadas were launched against Israel by Yasser Arafat and the PLO, whom the Clinton administration called a partner for peace;

• A 1997 National Intelligence Estimate, the last prior to September 11, did not even mention al Qaeda;

• Despite growing missile threats, missile-defense funding was repeatedly slashed and NIEs were deliberately “cooked” to downplay such threats.

While ignoring this sorry record, Miss Geyer then proceeds to describe current events from a prism of such bias that only a very distorted picture emerges. In Iraq, despite her claims, recent news is illustrative of progress being made. For example, a recent intelligence report said 14 of the 18 provinces are relatively calm. In addition, the president of Iraq has reached an agreement with 25 of the key tribes in the troubled areas to jointly go after the terror groups. And the Kurds recently hosted an expo for over 500 companies wanting to invest in Iraq.

In Afghanistan, a democratic government has been established for the first time, and as President Hamid Karzai has noted, a modern road network has been established over 80 percent of the country that will enhance commerce and agricultural production. While the Taliban have been reduced to a small area in the southern part of the country, Miss Geyer, while admitting the United States achieved a “real victory” in Afghanistan, exaggerates their capabilities.

She then goes on and gets the recent NIE wrong. In fact, the NIE says the defeat of the Islamic fascists in Iraq would diminish support for terror groups. It also says a policy for a pluralistic approach to government, to “wean away Muslims” from supporting terror groups, which Miss Geyer herself calls for, is precisely what the United States is doing. In addition, while the NIE indeed says jihadist groups are using Iraq as a symbol with which to seek more support, it should be noted that is precisely what they did with September 11, Somalia and Beirut, all of which occurred long before the liberation of Iraq.

The terror threat was certainly greater in December 2000 than in January 1993, the span of the Clinton administration, but this cannot be blamed on the Bush administration or Iraq. Ironically, when asked in June 2000 by a House terrorism subcommittee whether the Clintonistas would be putting together a comprehensive counter terrorism policy, Richard Clarke said such an effort would be “silly.”

In fact, it was just this flaccid Clinton policy that encouraged terrorism. Osama bin Laden himself cites the absence of a strong U.S. policy against terrorists — specifically the U.S. retreat from Somalia in 1994 — that convinced Islamic fascists that fighting Americans would lead to our retreat and defeat.

As for Iraq being the cause celebre for terrorists, only this week, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq cited the imprisonment of Ramzi Yousef —— convicted for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — as cause for his fellow terrorists to capture and kill Americans. As far as al Qaeda being more popular, poll after poll shows a precipitous decline in its support throughout the Muslim world because of its continuing murderous attacks.

Miss Geyer’s faulty logic further suffers from the fragility that comes with a demonization of one’s political opponents. She claims the Bush administration’s “ego” and “gluttony” for victory led to the overreach of Iraq. She adds to this canard the accusation that it was the Israel lobby and its supporters that “pushed” the United States into war with Iraq, quoting for support the author of a recent paper with a long-held hatred of Israel.

But this blinds her to the facts: From 1998-2000, the Clinton administration analysts in the intelligence community identified Saddam as a serious threat, intent upon building weapons of mass destruction to use against American allies in the region. This information led Congress to overwhelmingly pass the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, which called for the use of force to eliminate the Iraqi threat.

The same intelligence analysts reasserted these views in 2002 and 2003, conclusions reached without political influence or pressure, according to a number of independent commission reports. These findings were underscored by the Iraq Survey Group’s report that even without the presence of “stockpiles” of weapons of mass destruction, it would be only a matter of months before Saddam reconstituted his biological and chemical weapons programs once sanctions and inspectors were no more.

Not only were Saddam’s weapons programs of concern but also his connection to terrorism. In testimony that has never been challenged, CIAChief George Tenet underscored the growing connections between Iraq and al Qaeda. In addition, a number of military documents discovered reveal programs to train 8,000 terrorists in Iraq and a fear that the cooperative relationship between Saddam and the Taliban might be discovered.

Miss Geyer next asserts that American power is in decline because of faulty administration policies, relying upon the views of Joe Cirincione of the Center for American Progress. This is indeed strange. The center is a solely owned subsidiary of billionaire George Soros, who has decried U.S. power as the gravest threat to the world, and which has published a proposal to cut some $65 billion a year from the Defense Department, slashing dozens of procurement programs for the modernization of our armed services. Specifically, the center calls for eliminating funds for missile defenses and our nuclear deterrent, which would render U.S. defenses woefully inadequate. All this from an organization worried about U.S. power being in decline?

Also absent from Miss Geyer’s analysis is the success the administration has had on the nuclear counterproliferation front. U.S. nuclear weapons will be reduced to a level not seen since 1958, in parallel with major Russian reductions, an accomplishment the Clinton administration failed to achieve despite being handed the START II treaty on a golden platter in 1993.

On North Korea, an agreement has been reached by all six parties to the talks to fully eliminate all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula. That deal, signed in June 2005, has not been implemented by Pyongyang, which refuses to take any initial steps as required.

On Iran, because of smart U.S. diplomacy, the United Nations Security Council reached consensus that their nuclear program was in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and that full and complete inspections and cancellation of its enrichment program were required.

Both Iran and North Korea refuse to comply with these requirements not because of inadequate U.S. policies, but because the murderers and thieves that run both countries wish to terrorize and blackmail their neighbors, and they see nuclear weapons as the keys to the kingdom. It is U.S. power, alas, that stands between them and their imperial ambitions, a power Miss Geyer and Mr. Cirincione are desperate to prevent from being exercised.

While admitting Iran is a sinister threat and a dangerous country, Miss Geyer asserts that once we understand that Iran “craves recognition” from the United States, all will be better. Why is this? Well, because Iran’s “historical grandeur” causes the mullahs in Tehran to seek support. In short, we need an international psychiatric corps, “shrinks for mullahs” and the threat goes away. What a plan. Almost as brilliant as what her friend, Mr. Cirincione told me years ago after we debated missile defense issues on National Public Radio. He said we had to understand Pyongyang’s need for nuclear weapons and why missile defenses threatened them: “After all, the United States invaded North Korea.”

This is the guy Miss Geyer calls “one of the city’s best analysts.”

Any questions?



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