Adam Nagourney gloats about the success of the Times' September Surprise:
Democrats Turned War Into an Ally
By ADAM NAGOURNEY
This article was reported by Adam Nagourney, Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny and written by Mr. Nagourney.
On a warm night in mid-September, Representative Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois Democrat leading his party’s campaign to win back the House, stood in front of I Ricchi, a stylish Italian restaurant in downtown Washington, screaming at an aide who happened to be in his sight.
Why, he demanded, had Iraq fallen off the front pages and the evening news, replaced by President Bush’s weeklong commemoration of the Sept. 11 anniversary? How could Democrats win if this unpopular war was fought uncovered? As he headed in for dinner, he pronounced himself as despondent about his party’s hopes as he had been all year.
Two weeks later, the political world had turned, propelled by new bursts of violence in Iraq, new questions about incompetence in the waging of the war in Iraq, and an intelligence report suggesting that the American invasion had actually worsened the terrorist threat.
Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat
by MARK MAZZETTI
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.
Thank heaven for intelligence agencies - who would have guessed that a failure by the jihadists in Iraq would set them back? Of course, withdrawing US troops may not be the best way to bring about that jihadist failure, but the Times report overlooked that subtlety.
Here is another quote from the original Times story:
The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.
Really? Compared to what? The NIE made no attempt to establish a baseline. For example, prior to 2003, jihadists had been inspired by the US troops based in Saudia Arabia as a bulwark against Saddam Hussein, and by US-led UN Sanctions on Iraq, alleged to be killing 5,000 Iraqi babies a month. How would those two rallying cries have held up if in 2003 the US had settled for attempting to re-tighten "the box" containing Saddam Hussein?
The NIE did not attempt to address alternative history, but said this:
...Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement: (1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness; (2) the Iraq “jihad;” (3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and (4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims— - all of which jihadists exploit.
The NIE also noted that Iraq is a useful training ground for jihadists.