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Monday, October 30, 2006

Two Terrorism Experts "Get Political" in Op-Eds

By Andrew Cochran

I'm amazed by the op-eds written by Peter Bergen in today's New York Times tiled, "What Osama Wants," and by Michael Scheuer in yesterday's Washington Times, titled, "Another bin Laden victory." Both men are luminaries in the counterterrorism community on the basis of their brave and objective work inside terrorist cases and events, and also due to their open criticism of numerous elements of current national security strategy. Mr. Bergen is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, known in Washington more for criticizing President Bush than for agreeing with him. But both men endorse the current strategy in Iraq, and Mr. Scheuer says the loss of GOP control of the U.S. Congress would be an outright victory for Al Qaeda and jihadists (edited to remove an inaccurate reference to Mr. Bergen's comments, with appreciation for his response). Frankly, I never would have imagined that either man would write this so close to the election. Given their backgrounds, their views should be taken seriously as a forecast by two world-reknowned and objective experts of probable jihadist reaction to the election.

Here's an excerpt from Mr. Bergen's op-ed: "But for the United States to pull entirely out of that country right now, as is being demanded by a growing chorus of critics, would be to snatch an unqualified disaster from the jaws of an enormous blunder... A total withdrawal from Iraq would play into the hands of the jihadist terrorists... Yes, there is little doubt that the botched American occupation of Iraq was the critical factor that fueled the Iraqi insurgency. But for the United States to wash its hands of the country now would give Al Qaeda’s leaders what they want."

And from Mr. Scheuer: "If Americans vote for what sounds like sweet reason from the Democrats, bin Laden and company will rejoice. What they will hear is the death knell for any prospect of effective U.S. military resistance to militant Islam. With the Republicans out, the Islamists will be confident that Democrats will deliver the best of both worlds: less emphasis on military force and a rigid maintenance of U.S. foreign policies that are hated with passion and near-unanimity by 1.3 billion Muslims."
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