Bush’s July 4th speech mentioned al Qaeda only four times — he showed great restraint — though one of the references told us that the terrorist network is “the very same folks that attacked us on September the 11th.” It’s always heartwarming when the president talks down to Americans as if we have no idea who al Qaeda is.
Bush added, “A major enemy in Iraq is the same enemy that dared attack the United States on that fateful day.” Not too terribly long ago, Bush described “the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda” — not even the network itself — as the “smallest” component of violence in Iraq. But he wasn’t as politically desperate at that point.
But this was the real gem.
“If we were to quit Iraq before the job is done, the terrorists we are fighting would not declare victory and lay down their arms — they would follow us here, home. If we were to allow them to gain control of Iraq, they would have control of a nation with massive oil reserves — which they could use to fund new attacks and exhort [sic] economic blackmail on those who didn’t kowtow to their wishes.”
The first half of the argument — terrorists would follow us home — continues to be fairly silly. As recent events in Britain make clear, there are dangerous extremists who want to do harm to the West. Whether U.S. troops stay in Iraq another day or another decade won’t make the threat go away — though the longer our presence, the more serious the terrorist threat grows.
For that matter, I had hoped we were past this point by now, but as long as Bush continues to repeat nonsense, it’s probably a good idea to keep debunking it. Fred Kaplan, calling the president’s argument “nonsense,” set the record straight.