Monday, March 29, 2004

Neal on Vacation

Sarah (my wife) and I are going to take a week off and visit some friends in Tumwater, Washington. We'll be driving up the California coast and seeing some of the sights such as Big Sur and the Redwood National Forest.

Check back in next week to hear how the trip went.

Invading Iraq was a National Security mistake

The USA Today has an article by Dave Moniz and Steven Komarow explicating how the Invasion of Iraq siphoned off important resources from the Afghanistan occupation and the pursuit of Osama bin Laden.

I'm glad the mainstream media is finally starting to figure out that there was a massive opportunity cost to invading Iraq and that the US is less secure because of Bush's little foray into the Middle East.

Selected Quote:
Even before the invasion, the wisdom of shifting resources from the bin Laden hunt to the war in Iraq was raised privately by top military officials and publicly by Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and others. Now it's being hotly debated again following an election-year critique of the Bush administration by its former counterterrorism adviser, Richard Clarke.

"If we catch him (bin Laden) this summer, which I expect, it's two years too late," Clarke said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. "Because during those two years when forces were diverted to Iraq ... al-Qaeda has metamorphosized into a hydra-headed organization with cells that are operating autonomously, like the cells that operated in Madrid recently." . . . . Still, the question lingers: Did opening a second front hurt the main effort to defeat terrorism?

Bob Andrews, former head of a Pentagon office that oversaw special operations, says that removing Saddam Hussein was a good idea but "a distraction." The war in Iraq, Andrews notes, entailed the largest deployment of special operations forces — about 10,000 —since the Vietnam War. That's about 25% of all U.S. commandos.

It also siphoned spy aircraft and light infantry soldiers. Iraq proved such a drain, one former Pentagon official notes, that there were no AWACS radar jets to track drug-trafficking aircraft in South America.

Saddam was not an immediate threat. "This has been a real diversion from the longer struggle against jihadists," especially in the intelligence field, he says.

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