Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tom Friedman Half-Way Gets It Right

Tom Friedman's editorial in the NY Times today starts out by praising President Obama for exposing but not prosecuting those who may have tortured prisoners during our prosecution of the war on terror--because, you know, those were bad things, they were bad men and the rest of the world didn't like it. Then he goes on in the rest of the article to demonstrate why enhanced interrogation and looking at Al Qaeda differently than other enemies was a perfectly responsible thing to do.

Included is this little gem of a paragraph, in which Friedman accidentally makes the case that the war in Iraq made us safer in the US....something the Bush folks said all along:

"I believe that the most important reason there has not been another 9/11, besides the improved security and intelligence, is that Al Qaeda is primarily focused on defeating America in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world — particularly in Iraq. Al Qaeda knows that if it can destroy the U.S. effort (still a long shot) to build a decent, modernizing society in Iraq, it will undermine every U.S. ally in the region."

There was once a lot of talk of Iraq as "flypaper", a place where the Al Qaeda flies would go to die, rather than dying here. This was never put forward as a primary or even a secondary strategic rationale for the war. But it surely does turn out to have been at least a very useful unintended consequence.

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