Cliff May
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It would be nice – or at least more convenient – if America could fight just one enemy at a time. But that’s seldom how it works.

World War II was called a world war for a reason: President Roosevelt might have preferred to take on only Imperial Japan, the nation that had attacked us. Instead, he had to lead the country into battle also against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. He had to fight not only in the Pacific but in North Africa and Europe as well.

It’s astonishing how many otherwise smart people seem incapable of grasping this reality. Many have been making the peculiar argument that we shouldn’t worry too much about al-Qaeda in Iraq – because it’s somehow different from al-Qaeda Not in Iraq. Consider the question a reporter asked of President Bush at a recent press conference:

But, sir …what evidence can you present to the American people that the people who attacked the United States on September the 11th are, in fact, the same people who are responsible for the bombings taking place in Iraq? What evidence can you present? And also, are you saying, sir, that al Qaeda in Iraq is the same organization being run by Osama bin Laden, himself?

Can you imagine, President Roosevelt being asked:

But, sir … what evidence can you present to the American people that the people who attacked the United States on December 7th are, in fact, the same people who are responsible for the so-called “blitz” bombings now taking place in London? What evidence can you present? And also, are you saying, sir, that those attacking London belong to the same organization as do those Japanese who are allegedly responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor?

Reporters and other interested parties might spend a few minutes reviewing the latest National Intelligence Estimate. It states unequivocally that al-Qaeda in Iraq is al-Qaeda’s “most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland" here in the U.S. In plain language: The consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community is that the most dangerous branch of the terrorist organization that attacked American on 9/11/01 is al-Qaeda in Iraq.

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Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.