It's been too often said that, "Iraq and 911 are not the same battle." The fact is that's right - they are not the same battle, but they are the same war; the same jihad. Osama Bin Laden was a happily retired Afghan war veteran until the US invaded Iraq...
Then the US encouraged millions of Iraqis to rise up and depose Saddam. They did. They rose up, fought the remnants of Saddam's Army in search of a democratic, representative government, and when the air support we promised them was called for...we did nothing.
Only then did Osama decide it was time to start killing Americans, and he began with an attack on a hotel where US servicemen were staying at, in Yemen, in December 1992...14years ago. Many of today's soldiers in Iraq are 18years old, and were only 4 years old at the time.
Bin Laden declared war on the US (according to the 911 Commission and all the world's experts as well as Bin Laden's own fatwa) was first and foremost as a protest against US forces stationed in Saudi Arabia, but those forces wouldn't have been there had Saddam been removed in 1991. He declared war and started killing Americans because of the US-lead UN blockade, sanctions, and oppression/starvation of the Iraqi people (done so in protest against Saddam). He did so because the US was constantly bombing the Iraqis (but, the US was constantly using precision guided bombs to bomb Saddam - not Iraqi schools and hospitals). Oh, and since most of Al Queda's leaders were from Egyptian Islamic Jihad he said he was waging war on the US because of support for Israel (at a time when the Clinton Administration peace process almost managed to create Palestine and bring peace to the nations there).
The point isn't that Saddam and Osama are lovers, or that they like each other. It's that if the US had stayed in Iraq the first time it invaded, and backed up the now-dead half million Iraqis who rose up for democracy, then Saddam would have been removed, and there would have been no reasons for Bin Laden to wage war on the US.
If a bomb explodes, it creates blast, fire, and fragmentation damage. The US took the blast from Saddam's forces in 1991, it dealt with the fires of Kuwait, and then it ignored the fragmentary effects of the war in Iraq; the 1991 war in Iraq.
We ignore those effects again if we advocate just walking away. Nope. Sorry, one doesn't need to like war to realize the fact that there is no turning back from this one. The fight is in Iraq, it's there now, and there is no "just walk away and everything will be fine"... as fine as it was when Bin Laden decided to start killing Americans because we turned a blind eye and tried to walk away while "containing" the violence.
The same path was taken in Beirut, and when America left that nation was plunged into civil war - a civil war that is just under the surface today and at the root of all their problems and wars today. During that civil war, the suicide tactics for today's Jihad were refined.
The same path was taken in Afghanistan after the Soviets left, and again the country collapsed into anarchy. Terrorists called, The Taliban (Al Queda's political arm) took over, and the training infrastructure for jihad was built.
The same path was taken in Somalia when Al Queda trained Somalis in how to wage Jihad on Americans. The Americans were ambushed, killed thousands, and then left. Has anyone seen what's happening there?
Yes, America and the civilized world is facing a jihad, not a COTW, a GWOT, a WOT, a WW3, or any other term. It's a centuries old problem. It's a jihad. It's of our making from our deliberate ignorance of the fragmentary effects from the 1991 war that America tried to walk away from. And it's a full on war.
Iraq and 911 are not the same battle anymore than Iraq and the Khobar Towers attacks were the same battle, but they are the same Jihad; the same war. Lacking the cut and run from Iraq in 1991, there wouldn't be an Osama Bin Laden, there wouldn't be a re-born Al Queda, and there wouldn't be an Osama Bin Laden/Al Queda jihad against America. If the US hadn't cut and run from Iraq in 1991 there'd be no war in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. right now.
This time - despite what Michael Moore tells people (even Gov Dean, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, Senator Clinton, Senator Kerry, and all the political leaders of the DNC agree), "There is no easy way out. There is no cut and run. We can't afford to leave a nation in chaos [again]." What's truly sad and disgusting is that for purely political reasons they couldn't unite the nation behind that cold reality three years ago, and instead chose to divide the nation and set us on a course for yet another cut and run. Interestingly enough, now they control Congress, and now it is those very same political leaders who in the past deliberately mislead the nation into opposing the reconstruction who have to convince those they mislead that reconstruction must be done, and it must be supported for nothing can be accomplished without support for the efforts to accomplish it.Scott Malensek is the author of a series of techno-thrillers, including The Xmas War and Sixth Fleet Under.