April 09, 2004

Connecting Dots


In yesterday's testimony before the 9/11 commission, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice spoke of our "inability to connect the dots" that lead to 9/11. She blamed "legal and the bureaucratic impediments" that kept "the FBI and the CIA from functioning really as one."

Hopefully these internal dots will not be overlooked in the future. But it appears a much worse "inability to connect the dots" is still not being addressed. With a few exceptions, our government is unwilling to openly name Islamists as the enemy and fight them as a matter of principle. It began within days after the 9/11 attacks when President Bush proclaimed that Islam had been "hijacked" and "perverted" by the terrorists. A Bush advisor said, "Nothing this evil could be religious." And someone from the State Department referred to 9/11 as "an act of intolerance, which ... has, in our view, nothing to do with Islam."

More recently, our government allowed Afghanistan to adopt a ideologically mixed constitution in which Islamic law is set to undermine Western legal protections. A similar interim constitution has been adopted in Iraq where armed Islamists have been allowed to grow into the threat that our troops are fighting at this very moment.

But this problem goes back much further than the Bush Administration. The Ayn Rand Institute recently released a must-read editorial by Onkar Ghate: Diverting the Blame for 9/11.

The squabbling and finger-pointing surrounding the 9/11 commission only serve to obscure the fundamental lesson of that horrific day. Whatever errors or incompetence on the part of a particular individual or intelligence agency, what made September 11 possible was a failure of policy. Our government, whether controlled by Democrat or Republican, had for decades conducted an accommodating, range-of-the-moment, unprincipled foreign policy.

The editorial rightly criticizes President Bush's approach to the War on Terrorism, not because he has gone too far (as leftists would have us believe), but because he has not gone far enough. It argues that while the Iraq war was justifiable, leaving intact militant Islamic regimes like Iran's is not. The jihadists our troops are today fighting and dying to defeat are supported by Iran.

There have been exceptions from the Administration. In her testimony, Rice alluded to a policy shift from "tit-for-tat, tactical" responses to broader "strategic" responses after 9/11. Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged in his testimony that "Islamic extremists and jihadists" are the source of most terrorism (without the usual "religion of peace" qualifications). And our military recently demonstrated a willingness to attack mosques when such "sacred places" are used for military purposes by the enemy.

The Administration appears to be getting better at connecting the ideological dots, and there's no doubt the alternative this November would refuse even to see the dots, but we still have a ways to go.

Posted by Forkum at April 9, 2004 10:29 AM