All this talk about civilization, totalitarianism, fascism and terror is just preventing us from looking at what's happening and recognizing what our own interests are. They also make it possible for some people to convince themselves that it's not a screw-up that we've turned Iraq into a terrorist magnet. After all we're at war with 'the terrorists' and it makes sense that 'the terrorists' would attack us anyway, if only in a new venue. And we always knew it would be a long fight, a long twilight struggle, and yada, yada, yada and the rest of it. Same with the mumbo-jumbo about totalitarianism.
Look at the difference thus far between Afghanistan and Iraq. In the first place, we drained the swamp. In the second, we've made the swamp.
It's really that simple.
Kevin Drum also noted the same obstinacy to our self-interest:
Bush's conduct toward Iraq continues to be something that I just shake my head over. He lost my support before the war because I eventually became convinced that he wasn't serious about postwar reconstruction. After the war, it became clear that my suspicions were well grounded and that virtually no serious postwar planning had been done. And now, his continuing refusal to admit that we need more troops in Iraq or to make any effort to rally the country behind the time and money it will take to do the job right is simply inexplicable.
So what is he doing? His reluctance to involve the UN or the rest of the world is at least understandable given his worldview, but his reluctance to do anything just boggles the imagination. Even accepting the world on his terms, his actions make no sense.
Kevin's question is partly answered by Josh's post. The bottom line is that the Administration has a "faith" based policy ideology, one which is imune to evdience of failure. The basic message of David Ignatius' "Time to Unite" column is completely incomprehensible to such an Administration - they are structurally unable to "disenthrall themselves".
The evidence is mounting that the Iraq occupation is not proceeding towards our self-interest. Tacitus has a disturbing roundup of factual stories that completely demolish the wishful thinking of Bush apologists that the resistance is limited to the Sunni triangle:
Now, there is indeed much more of a specifically Ba'athist resistance in Iraq than I first hypothesized; but let's leave that aside for a moment. Let's also leave aside the surplus of examples within the "Sunni triangle" of non-Ba'athist and anti-Ba'athist resistance to the occupation. If resistance outside the Sunni triangle is what David Adesnik demands, it is what he shall get. Therefore:
How about an American serviceman gunned down in the Shi'a city of Hilla? How about the ambush that killed three British soldiers in the Shi'a city of Basra? How about yet another (fortunately non-fatal) ambush of British soldiers also in the Shi'a city of Basra? How about a fatal bomb attack on British soldiers yet again in the Shi'a city of Basra? And let's not forget the horrific massacre of Royal Military Police in the Shi'a town of Majar al-Kabir.
Look, is most of the resistance within the Sunni triangle? Yes. Is it mostly Ba'athist-related? Quite possibly, but it's a legitimately debatable point. Is the rest of the country just fine, sans resistance, with no Shi'a out to kill our own and our allies'? Give me a break. All is not well, and for all we know, it may get worse. With Turkomen calling on the Turkish army to crush the perfidious Kurds; with Shi'a factions trying to kill one another and blaming the Americans for not taking sides with appropriate alacrity; and with the occasional violent riot breaking out among the Shi'a populace in Basra and Baghdad, David Adesnik's refusal to admit that there is -- or even could be -- a resistance outside the Sunni triangle is simply absurd.
While comprehensive, Tacitus omitted the most important evidence of our stumbling in Iraq - the rise of Al-Qaeda as a player in the region. Under Saddam, AQ had no influence whatsoever, a fact that explains Osama bin Laden's own denunciation of Saddam as an infidel. The UN bombing has demonstrated the end of the AQ-free Iraqq era, however. Despite the desperate spin that the UN bombing was the work of the remnant of Saddam's regime, the evidence points directly to and unequivocally to Al-Qaeda:
BERGEN: Well, what's happening is utterly predictable, unfortunately. Which is that Iraq is acting as a sort of super-magnet for ... al Qaida or the jihadists in general. And they're coming to Iraq. Were they behind the Jordanian embassy attack? Very possibly. It happened on August 7th, which is a date that al Qaida is fairly preoccupied by, because that was the day that President Bush [Sr.] announced Operation Desert Shield and [began] posting American troops in Saudi Arabia. And then 8 years later [al Qaida] blew up two US embassies simultaneously on that day.
TPM: Huh, I'd never heard [that it was on the same date.]
BERGEN: They don't operate on anniversaries, but this is one that they have operated on. And they would definitely -- you don't spend five years [planning for] blowing up two US embassies without actually deciding, "We're going to do it on a day that really makes sense for us." And their principle political beef has been the US presence in Saudi Arabia. So the fact that the Jordanian embassy was attacked on August 7th, it's an interesting coincidence at least.
Then, attacking embassies, doing it in a professional manner. This is something that al Qaida has -- al Qaida or its affiliates -- among their specialties. Whether it was in Africa in '98, the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan in '95, attempting to blow up a series of Western embassies in Singapore post-9/11, which didn't happen.
So that's point one. Then point two: The United Nations is definitely -- attacking the United Nations is definitely something that for starters was a suicide attack, probably extremely well-organized. I don't think there's a huge group of people willing to martyr themselves to bring Saddam Hussein back to power. I mean it just doesn't make sense on the face of it. You know, there might be people who are nostalgic, but not nostalgic enough to want to kill themselves � Secular socialism posits heaven here on earth, rather than in eternity.
Now, there's information just now that the FBI is saying that the explosive materials involved indicate some sort of military Iraqi [connection], which is interesting. So maybe there is some alliance between these former military people and the jihadists. But I think that -- I've never heard of a suicide operation mounted by people who don't believe in heaven.
Peter Bergen is an expert on Al Qaeda, author of Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden , and interviewed Osama bin Laden himself in 1997. The interview that Marshall conducts with Bergen is intensely fascinating, informative, and authoritative - both parts one and two are essential reading.
The Administration's own "flypaper" theory demonstrates how they are trying to spin the issue both ways. They admit that jihadis and AQ are headed to Iraq, claiming that this is a good thing, because then they are all concentrated in one place for our forces to obliterate at our leisure. But the moment a terrorist attack occurs - which has a demonstrably different modus operandi than the ongoing guerilla war against our troops (which is NOT terrorism!), they pretend that AQ doesn't exist. These are the contortions that ideologues must self-impose upon their worldview, when reality contradicts their faith. These contortions lead to rationalization of stupendously stupid decisions such as recruiting Mukhabarat agents as allies.
What is needed is an Administration that doesn't use ideology as the basis for policy. The stakes are just too high to allow Bush another chance. We must succeed in Iraq, and the Bush Administration is averse to doing what it takes to ensure that success.
 Do the words "occupation" and "resistance" make you uncomfortable? deal with it. Stop hiding behind pedantic fear of words. Embrace the ones that describe reality rather than those that mask it.