Barack Obama likes to peddle the notion that the U.S. stopped fighting the real enemy in Afghanistan in order to chase Iraqi bogeymen. As recently as June 18, Obama gave a speech in which he said:
We had al Qaeda and the Taliban on the run back in 2002. But then we diverted military, intelligence, financial, and diplomatic resources to Iraq. And yet Senator McCain has said as recently as this April that, “Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq.” I think that just shows a dangerous misjudgment of the facts, and a stubborn determination to ignore the need to finish the fight in Afghanistan.
But it is Obama’s dangerous misjudgment that’s manifest in such statements. The fight in Afghanistan was never compromised by Iraq. Indeed, coalition efforts in Iraq ultimately took down a lethal wing of the very same enemy forces faced in Kabul and Tora Bora. A story in today’s New York Times makes that crystal clear. The Times reports that foreign fighters have recently been flocking to Pakistan’s tribal area to help wage jihad against coalition forces. Here’s the most relevant part:
According to the American officials, many of the fighters making their way to the tribal areas are Uzbeks, North Africans and Arabs from Persian Gulf states American intelligence officials say that some jihadist Web sites have been encouraging foreign militants to go to Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is considered a “winning fight,” compared with the insurgency in Iraq, which has suffered sharp setbacks recently.
Wherever the U.S. fights militant Islam, foreign jihadists will come and pick up arms against American forces. What Obama, and every last leading Democrat, fails to understand is that the enemy is not a static body fighting from a fixed location, and that the U.S.’s having dealt a spectacular blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq was every bit as valuable as would have been a similar trouncing in Afghanistan. (and a similar trouncing is hopefully on the way.)
Over the past two decades, foreign militants have flocked to the Balkans to Chechnya to Northern Africa to Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond, to kill infidels in the name of jihad. As the Times story makes plain, we are up against a rolling band of journeymen jihadists. This discredits the charge that the Iraq insurgency was primarily driven by native resentment to a specific foreign occupation. Those same insurgents are now taking the fight to new lands because they are sworn enemies of freedom and modernity. The fact that jihadist websites are calling for this redistribution of fighters means two critical things: First, jihad suffered a massive setback at the hands of coalition forces in Iraq. Second, no matter where we go, we will be up against the same enemy. This presidential election is about which candidate understands those two things and which candidate is trying to cling to politicized and discredited criticisms of the War on Terror.