Since the invasion of Iraq, liberals have been arguing that the war in Iraq is not part of the broader war on terror. John Kerry said that the war in Iraq was "a profound diversion" from the war on terror and "the battle against our greatest enemy: Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network." Paul Begala, the human echo chamber, agreed completely with Kerry: "John Kerry is right. Hasn't the president's war in Iraq made us weaker in the face of the terrorist threat?" Joe Klein of Time Magazine concurred on CNN, stating that the Bush administration "conflated the war on terror with the war in Iraq, which are two very separate things."
President Bush, meanwhile, steadfastly refused to separate the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Calling the war in Iraq a "central commitment" in the war on terror, Bush cited terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as evidence that the Iraq war and the war on terror were inextricably joined. "If Zarqawi and his associates were not busy fighting American forces, does Sen. Kerry think he would be leading a productive and useful life? Of course not. And that is why Iraq is no diversion."
This week, the evidence came pouring in for President Bush's position. Bin Laden sent in his latest audiotape to an Islamist Web site. On the tape, the al-Qaeda leader told fellow Muslims that they would be committing a "grave sin" if they did not wage jihad against U.S. forces and the government in Iraq. He labeled as "infidels" any Iraqis who participated in the upcoming Jan. 30 Iraqi election. He explained that al-Qaeda was spending at least $275,000 each week in Iraq. And he appointed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his proxy in Iraq.
This puts liberals in a tight spot. It seems that the war in Iraq is indeed an integral part of the war on terror, since Bin Laden is now expending much of his energy fighting American troops there. The war in Iraq hasn't distracted us from the broader war on terror; it has distracted Bin Laden from his war on American cities. The war in Iraq wasn't a diversion for us; it was a diversion for him.