Operational mess? or Strategic blunder?

"The yellow light is flashing". Matt Drudge says Wesley Clark's statements to Congress in September 2002 made the case for war in Iraq, but the transcript proves otherwise. [Salon.com]

I went to the congress site and read some of the transcript, statements made by Richard Perle and also the Wesley Clark. I think what I read is very interesting. Clark not only doesn't make the justification for Bush's Persian distraction II, he argues cogently against it. Here is the relevant part of the transcript:

But, the problem of Iraq is only one element of the broader security challenges facing our country. We have an unfinished worldwide war against al Qaeda, a war that has to be won in conjunction with friends and allies, and that ultimately will be won as much by persuasion as by the use of force. We have got to turn off the al Qaeda recruiting machine. Now some 3,000 deaths on September 11 testified to the real danger from al Qaeda. And, I think everyone acknowledges that al Qaeda has not yet been defeated. As far as I know, I haven't seen any substantial evidence linking Saddam's regime to the al Qaeda network, though such evidence may emerge. But nevertheless, winning the war against al Qaeda and taking actions against the weapons program in Iraq, those are two different problems that may require two different sets of solutions. In other words, to put it back in the military parlance, Iraq—they are an operational-level problem. We have got other operational-level problems in the Middle East, like the ongoing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Al Qaeda and the foundation of radical extremist fundamentalist Islam, that is the strategic problem. We have got to make sure that in addressing the operational problem, we are effective in going after the larger strategic problem.

I think his key points are:

  1. We have got to turn off the al Qaeda recruiting machine.
  2. Winning the war against al Qaeda and taking actions against the weapons program in Iraq, those are two different problems that may require two different sets of solutions.
  3. We have got to make sure that in addressing the operational problem, we are effective in going after the larger strategic problem.
It seems to me that what is happening in Iraq is a complete reversal of these points, and not for the better.

16/01/2004 08:51 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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