November 16, 2005
Wild Hits on Jordan
By William F. Buckley
Not everyone has come up with a formula for ending U.S. occupation of Iraq, but many have done so. The play is on the theme of announcing dates of partial -- or contingent, or unmodifiable -- withdrawal. They are all lacking, of course, complementary roles for the insurgents. One plan calls for withdrawal of one-half of our forces by the end of 2006, the remaining half by the end of 2007. The author of that plan left out only a commitment by the insurgents to reduce their activity by one-half in 2006, and what's left over in 2007.
But there is unprogrammed good news on the scene, which is the hyperactivity of the terrorists in areas of little direct concern to the United States. We can crank up a good snort of disapproval over the bombing of nightclubs in Bali. Commuter trains blown up in Madrid are practically enough to go to the United Nations to complain about. The costly bombings in Jordan are so deranged in terms of acceptable strategic arrangements as to cause great, opportunistic glee in Washington.
To bomb Jordan while everything else is going on would seem imbecile in design. The dangerous attractiveness of the insurgency in Iraq has been its anti-American vector. Much of the world has become progressively more anti-American in the last two years, and the hostility has been fanned by our involvement in Iraq.
Hold that analysis!
We are in Iraq, the president has several times said, because we are engaged in a war against terrorism, and Iraq is the epicenter of terrorism, or at least one of the epicenters. Critics have from almost the beginning pounced on that proposition as simply false. They began by a fierce ex parte proceeding to separate Saddam Hussein from al-Qaida. The two were -- are -- unrelated. True, Saddam used terrorist weapons and indeed weapons of mass destruction against various people, including his own citizens, and neighboring countries, such as Iran and Kuwait. But it was al-Qaida, unrelated to Saddam Hussein, that flew the killer missions into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
What seemed the collective voices of half the advocates in the world disposed with relish of the allegation that Mohamed Atta, one of the planners of 9/11, had actually consulted with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague, but it was never proved.
So, let us cede that they are distinct entities. But ask then a question that certainly commends itself as relevant, namely, do they have a common purpose? Dillinger Inc. and Barker Inc. can be correctly set down as distinct entities, but they were also entities that robbed banks. That was what mattered when the time came for the FBI to coordinate its efforts. In the present case, when Congress sought to enact appropriate legislation, it was the common activity of Saddam and al-Qaida, rather than any organizational unity, that mobilized our defenses.
If an organized body is bent upon engaging in terrorism, the United States is the main target because ours is the outstanding pillar of organized strength. But the purity of the terrorist soul is evidenced by the willingness to take on a country, especially in the Mideast, which isn't regarded as a U.S. colony. Jordan is as free as any country in the entire Mideast of subordination to U.S. interests, indeed conspicuously so since it is Jordan, lying alongside Israel, which most resents U.S. single-mindedness on the matter of Israeli survival.
The upshot is that the terrorists' attack on Jordan has the effect of lending credence to President Bush's major proposition, which is that the war we are engaged in is against the genus terror, not the species Iraq. The violation of Jordan presents grave problems to polemicists who argue that the United States is stumbling along in a confused war with Iraq affecting to be concerned with terrorism, but actually concerned only with its private war against insurgents who want the United States out of the Mideast.
We don't know how the terrorist command units connect with one another, but there has to be a lot of furious resentment being generated by terrorists who feel that much has been lost, and nothing at all gained, by the attack on Jordan. They run also the awful risk that some, viewing the strategic scene, will dare to think that maybe President Bush is on to something.
Copyright 2005 Universal Press Syndicate