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July 11, 2011

The US Is In Iraq Because Of 9/11 So Says....Leon Panetta?

Via Brian Faughnan.

Well, that's interesting.

Panetta made his remarks during his his inaugural visit to Iraq as Pentagon chief. Speaking to about 100 soldiers at Camp Victory, the largest U.S. military installation in Baghdad, he said his primary goal as defense secretary was to defeat al-Qaeda worldwide.

“The reason you guys are here is because on 9/11 the United States got attacked,” Panetta told the troops. “And 3,000 Americans — 3,000 not just Americans, 3,000 human beings, innocent human beings — got killed because of al-Qaeda. And we’ve been fighting as a result of that.”

His statement echoed previous comments made by President George W. Bush and members of his administration, who tried to tie Saddam Hussein’s government to al-Qaeda. But it put Panetta at odds with President Obama, the 9/11 Commission and other independent experts, who have said there is no evidence al-Qaeda had a presence in Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Afterward, pressed by reporters to elaborate, Panetta said: “I wasn’t saying, you know, the invasion — or going into the issues or the justification of that. It was more the fact that we really had to deal with al-Qaeda here, they developed a presence here and that tied in.”

Honestly, what Panetta meant is kind of muddled.

Still it's fun to see that the Post is still misrepresenting what Bush said. My understanding of Bush's argument was that after the 9/11 attacks we couldn't simply be passive and hope to break up plots but had to go after sponsors of terrorism before they could launch attacks. In short, we'd go on the offensive and not simply retaliate after the fact. The Democrats and the media always misrepresented that as saying we were going after the sponsors of the actual 9/11 attacks (leave the issue of connections between Saddam and al Qaeda aside for the moment).

I always viewed Iraq more about changing the terms of the fight in the Mideast. Al Qaeda was offering a vision for how Muslims should live, not only in accordance with strict Islamic rule but also in confrontation with the West. For the most part the US had been offering support for despots in the region (think Egypt and Saudi Arabia). By getting rid of Saddam we'd be able to create a demonstration project as it were and offer an alternative path for the region. Oh and we'd be getting rid of a monster who also posed a major security threat to a vital part of the world in the process.

Whatever Panetta meant, it's fun to see a Democrat on the receiving end of the media's narrative protection effort for a change.

Also: Panetta has a message for the Iraqi government on extending the US military presence, "Dammit, make a decision."

Mr. Panetta commended the Iraqis and the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the hard work of fostering democratic institutions since the fall of longtime dictator Saddam Hussein.

At the same time, Mr. Panetta said the sometimes slow-moving decision-making process in Iraq can be "frustrating" for the U.S., which has also been waiting for the appointment of a new Iraqi defense minister.

"I'd like things to move a lot faster here, frankly, in terms of the decision-making process. I'd like them to make the decision, you know: Do they want us to stay? Don't they want us to stay? Do they want to have, you know, a minister of defense or don't they want to get a minister of defense?" Mr. Panetta said. "But dammit, make a decision."

I kind of like this guy. Well, at least until he starts doing Obama's bidding and slashes the defense budget.


digg this
posted by DrewM. at 03:08 PM

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