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August 13, 2007

Hitchens On 'Foolish Myths' About al-Qaeda

After throwing out a few qualifiers to call attention to his recent rants against religion (all of them) in his piece at Slate today, Christopher Hitchens gets right down to the business of rebutting a few "foolish myths" about al-Qaeda that many of our friends on the Left and more than a few misinformed Republicans would do well to distance themselves from if they value reality.

This is especially true for those who Hitchens calls "the hair-splitting secularists who cannot accept that al-Qaida in Mesopotamia is a branch of al-Qaida itself."

Objections to this self-evident fact take one of two forms. It is argued, first, that there was no such organization before the coalition intervention in Iraq. It is argued, second, that the character of the gang itself is somewhat autonomous from, and even independent of, the original group proclaimed by Osama Bin Laden. These objections sometimes, but not always, amount to the suggestion that the "real" fight against al-Qaida is, or should be, not in Iraq but in Afghanistan. (I say "not always," because many of those who argue the difference are openly hostile to the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan as well as to the presence of coalition soldiers in Iraq.)

The facts as we have them are not at all friendly to this view of the situation, whether it be the "hard" view that al-Qaida terrorism is a "resistance" to Western imperialism or the "soft" view that we have only created the monster in Iraq by intervening there.

The founder of al-Qaida in Mesopotamia was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who we can now gratefully describe as "the late." The first thing to notice about him is that he was in Iraq before we were. The second thing to notice is that he fled to Iraq only because he, and many others like him, had been driven out of Afghanistan. Thus, by the logic of those who say that Afghanistan is the "real" war, he would have been better left as he was. Without the overthrow of the Taliban, he and his collaborators would not have moved to take advantage of the next failed/rogue state. I hope you can spot the simple error of reasoning that is involved in this belief. It also involves the defeatist suggestion--which was very salient in the opposition to the intervention in Afghanistan--that it's pointless to try to crush such people because "others will spring up in their place." Those who take this view should have the courage to stand by it and not invent a straw-man argument.

Continue reading: Fighting the "Real" Fight ...

Cross posted from Hyscience

Posted by Abdul at August 13, 2007 5:59 PM

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