the enemy of my enemy

Tacitus makes a valiant attempt at squeezing lemonade from the lemon conclusion by the 9-11 Comission that Iraq and al-Qaedea had no relationship of support:

First, that all those claiming that the "secular" and religious fanatics of the Muslim world would never consider working together are now definitively shown wrong. Actually, they were before, as any observer of the Palestinian and Iraqi guerrilla movements would have noted: so let's just call this a nail in that coffin. Second, that the idea that knocking out the aforementioned "secular" autocracies of the region does not deprive our Islamist enemies of props, refuges and allies just suffered a serious blow. Which, again, those of us arguing that the social pathologies of the region constitute a unified whole already knew. Third, that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It's something that I doubt most of those reveling in schadenfreude over this news will bother to acknowledge.

Islamic fundamentalists have no scruples about whom they ally with - they accepted our help in Afghanistan to oust the Russians in the 80s, after all, and while Zarqawi's memo has few kind words for Shi'a, most of the Al-Q leadership has taken refuge in Tehran.

However, secular Arab nationalist regimes are indeed VERY leery of alliance with religious psychotics (more so than our real-politik foreign policy establishment during the 80s) because they know that the (twisted) populist message poses a direct threat to their totalitarian grip*and thus are much more paranoid.

Saudi Arabia has managed to find a way around the conundrum by making a pact with the devil, ie the symbiosis between the House of Saud and the Wahabs (where religious authority is granted in exchange for oil-revenue-derived funding of the theocratic infrastructure).

That Al-Qaeda sought an alliance with Saddam is unsurprising and illustrates even more strongly their threat as the priority. That Saddam rejected the alliance is equally unsurprising (and in fact Saddam tried to appropriate religious symbolism for his own use to try and fill the vacuum).

The merits of the case for war against Saddam aside, the argument that his regime "supported" Al-Qaeda is therefore false, and the insistence by the Vice President that Saddam was linked to 9-11 is therefore risible.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence - but I do not have evidence for a link between Al-Qaeda and the Texas GOP, and still remain fairly confident that their shared religio-political values are not sufficient to warrant cooperation and support.

This is a fact that I expect most supporters of the Iraq War and rejectors of the multi-pole theory of American power (ably articulated by Gary Hart and the foundation of more comprehensive proposals for execution of the war on Terror than anything the Bush Administration is capable of conceiving) will surely not bother to acknowledge.

[1]all nationalist movements trend towards the totalitarian.

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