Josh Marshall often has intelligently persuasive things to say and even when he doesn’t he at least says them succinctly. In his discussion about Spain, Iraq and al Qaeda he does neither. The upshot of Marshall’s long argument is that Iraq and al Qaeda aren’t linked because al Qaeda would smack Spain for helping the US invade any Arab country. He writes:
Just because you’ve inflamed or emboldened your enemies doesn’t mean you’ve used the most effective means of attacking them. Indeed, quite the opposite can be true.
For instance, consider this thought experiment. What if the US, Britain and Spain had attacked and occupied Egypt or Jordan? Do you suppose that Islamic radicals wouldn’t strike at the sponsors of that war much as they seem to have last week?
I suspect there’d be little if any difference.
I think Marshall’s right. But I also don’t care. Hitler would have been just as happy if the Chinese beat the stuffing out of America instead of the Japanese, too.
Of course al Qaeda’s opportunistic. Of course, it’s exploiting the Iraq war. Of course Saddam wasn’t Bin Laden’s kind of tyrant. This is all beside the point. The fact of the matter right now is that al Qaeda will suffer a big setback if American succeeds in Iraq and it will celebrate a huge victory if America blows it. We are trying to defeat Islamic radicalism from behind Islamic radicalism’s own frontlines. The complexity of al Qaeda’s motives or the motives of Spanish voters are interesting, sure. Let’s have a seminar about all that some time. In the meantime, the important thing is not giving the radicals the sorts of victories they had in Spain or putting Iraq in their column.
I am constantly amazed by the tendency of the nuance brigrades — i.e. Marshall, Blix, Kerry, Prodi et al — to hang on to their past objections to invading Iraq as if those past objections are relevant to the current situation. The war happened. And whether you were for it or against it, matters as little as whether it was right or wrong for the US to declare war on Germany after Pearl Harbor.