Former presidential anti-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke is wrong to think the liberation of Iraq was unnecessary, former Sen. Bob Kerrey, a member of the 9-11 Commission, writes today.
Kerrey notes that Clarke, in opposing the liberation of Iraq as a distraction from action against al Qaida, says there have been more terrorist attacks against the United States in the 30 months since 9-11 than in the 30 months before 9-11. Most of the recent anti-U.S. terrorist attacks, of course, have been in Iraq.
"I think he's wrong, but I don't think he is being duplicitous. He is wrong because most if not all of the terrorism since 9/11 has occurred because al Qaeda and other radical Islamists have an even dimmer view of a free and independent Iraq than they do a free and independent United States. A democracy in Iraq that embraces modernism, pluralism, tolerance and the plebiscite is a greater sacrilege than anything we are doing here at home."
Kerrey reminds Clarke that Americans still were dying and getting shot at even 11 and 12 years into the so-called "containment" of Saddam, so Saddam had to go. (In this column, Kerrey is silent on the violations of U.N. Resolution 688, which required Saddam to end the repression of the Iraqi people; the repression, tortures and murders never stopped under Saddam.)
Kerrey says it is vitally important now that the terrorists, whose figurehead Osama bin Laden declared war on America in August 1996, not be allowed to win in Iraq. He writes:
"It is my view that a political victory for terrorism in Iraq is a much greater danger to us than whether or not we succeed in capturing Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Victory in Iraq will embolden radical Islamists as much as our failure to recognize the original danger of their declaration of war against us."
The surest cure to terrorism is democracy. And democracy is just what all Iraqis – all humans – have a right to.