Al Qaeda is not the only terrorist group. But it is unique -- it has declared war on America, it has attacked us on our soil -- and it continues to plan another spectacular domestic attack like 9-11 or worse.
Iraq diverted critical intelligence and military resources from the fight against Al Qaeda. We let up the pressure and Al Qaeda recovered -- and struck back. Since 2002, Al Qaeda and its affiliates have carried out attacks in Algiers, Casablanca, Madrid, London, Istanbul, Riyadh, Tel Aviv, Jeddah, Karachi, Sharm al Shaykh, Taba, Mombassa, Kuwait, Mumbai, New Delhi, Dacca, Bali and elsewhere.
The target of our military strategy needs to be the Al Qaeda leadership. As long as these men are active, they symbolize the success of resistance to America, and attract new recruits. It is not good enough to have them "hiding in caves." The death or capture of Osama bin Ladin and his associates in Pakistan and Afghanistan will not end the Al Qaeda movement, but it will deal it a serious setback. So how do we do it?
We urgently must redirect our military effort away from Iraq (where Al Qaeda's leadership is not located) and toward the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (where they ARE located).
[Economic reconstruction] efforts also must extend into Pakistan. The border regions are poverty-stricken breeding grounds for Jihadism. We need to read the riot act to Dick Cheney's pal, President Musharraf. We have provided him with $10 billion, in mostly military aid. Future aid must be linked to a real crackdown on terrorists -- including Arabs, Afghans and Kashmiris.
We cannot defeat Al Qaeda until we get out of Iraq. An orderly, phased and complete troop withdrawal could be completed rapidly -- and it is imperative that it be complete. The key to an exit strategy is to exit. We don't need a South Korea-like solution as the President suggests, an open-ended military base in Iraq that will alienate succeeding generations of Iraqis and other Muslims.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Bill Richardson: leave Iraq, target al Qaeda
From Bill Richardson's "Grand Strategy on Terrorism":