The anti-war critics have an answer, too. They say al-Qaida is merely taking advantage of the moment. It's opportunistically using Iraq as a recruiting ground and the backlash against the war as a recruiting tool. Dean summed it up by saying, "We know al-Qaida is in Iraq now, even though they were not in Iraq before we went in."
Fine. I fail to see why both of these explanations cannot both be true. But in wars, at some point, speculation about motives needs to take a back seat to sober appraisal of fact. For example, there were plenty of plausible, interconnected reasons for Hitler's alliance with Japan. Hitler wanted to see the U.S. bogged down in the Pacific; he wanted to cut off the British from their colonies; he liked the way the Japanese cooked vegetables, whatever. Ultimately, who cares?
Right now - not last year or 10 years ago - the connection between al-Qaida and Iraq is obvious for anybody willing to see it. Al-Qaida benefits if Iraq descends into chaos; it benefits if the Western world bickers with itself and dickers with terrorists; it benefits if America is isolated. Conversely, al-Qaida suffers if Iraq prospers, if the West stands together, if America leads.
The tragedy is that many people and nations refuse to see it that way. They want to pretend that Iraq is America's problem and that it has nothing to do with the war on terrorism. The incoming Spanish prime minister - a man with a thoroughly anti-American record - has declared the war in Iraq a "disaster" and will pull all of Spain's troops out of Iraq.
Meanwhile, in a statement that is surely the Chamberlainesque "peace in our time" of our generation, European Commission President Romano Prodi declared: "It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists." Prodi's evidence is the increased terrorism since the Iraq war. By this logic, shooting bears is not the best way to kill them, since a wounded animal is the most dangerous kind.
The champions of "nuance" would have us believe the Spanish vote and Prodi's preference for taking a prone position toward terrorism are more sophisticated and complicated than they seem. Fine. Bully for them.
But again, who cares? Certainly not al-Qaida. They're too busy basking in their victory and planning their next attack on complicated Europe.