Several years ago, when the New York Times was actively propagandizing against the Iraq War, it refused to say that al Qaeda was active in Iraq. When it was forced to recognize the presence of al Qaeda in that part of the world it renamed the organization: al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
Wanting above all else to undermine and war effort, the Times reasoned that acknowledging the presence of al Qaeda in Iraqt might have helped the Bush administration build support for the war.
Every time an IED went off, every time a suicide bomber decimated a café or a market, the story was page 1 in the Times and the top of the evening news. Every time any American did anything wrong, the story was trumpeted over and over again int he press.
Led by the New York Times the mainstream media never missed an opportunity to undermine the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq. journalism. Naturally, no one noticed or cared.
Ultimately, the Times got its way. President Obama has ended the Iraq War and has brought the troops home. So completely did he bungle the status of forces negotiations with the Iraqi Prime Minister that we do not even have a training contingent active in that country.
It wasn’t just the media, of course. The American people have tired of Muslim-on-Muslim violence. They would rather ignore it and hope that it all goes away. If Muslims want that badly to kill each other, why should we try to get between them. It's none of our business.
In many ways, it isn’t. In some ways, it is.
The result: al Qaeda in Iraq is back, with a vengeance.
As Bret Stephens points out today, al Qaeda is alive and well in Iraq.
Today, we have more bombings and more deaths, and the media has been struck dumb. Undoubtedly, it does not want to draw undue attention to another Obama administration foreign policy failure.
Stephens wrote this morning:
The tree falls in the forest, the country collapses in the desert, and the question remains the same: Does either of them make a sound if nobody can be bothered to listen? Iraq, where 4,488 Americans recently and bravely gave their lives, and over which Washington obsessed for two decades, has effectively ceased to exist for the purposes of U.S. politics. The show has been canceled; there will be no reruns. Barack Obama's Iraq achievement is that you are now free to think of suicide bombings in Baghdad as you might a mud slide in Pakistan or a cholera outbreak in Haiti: As a bad, but remote, fact.
To date this year’s body count is around 7,000. Stephens continued:
Altogether some 7,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed so far this year, approaching levels last seen in 2008. Most of the killing has been done by al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a group that in 2009 had been so thoroughly beaten by the combination of the U.S. surge and the Sunni Awakening that it barely existed. Now it's back, killing more people than any other al Qaeda franchise, attempting to tip Iraq toward civil war and joining ranks with its jihadist allies in Syria.
The conventional wisdom has it that al Qaeda in Mesopotamia was merely a reaction to the presence of those evil Americans. Once America left the country, and presumably the region, al Qaeda would have nothing to fight about.
The opinion was not limited to the left-thinking media. Stephens remarked that it even made its way into the free market Cato Institute:
The point doesn't square with the conventional wisdom that developed about Iraq midway through the last decade. Back then, the idea was that it was America's presence in the country that strengthened AQI, and that America's departure was therefore bound to weaken it. "Without that rallying cry [of opposing U.S. occupation], what would al Qaeda have left?" the Cato Institute's Christopher Preble and Justin Logan asked in late 2005. The answer, as this year's bloody mounting toll testifies, is plenty.
The blame-America-first crowd believes that Islamic terrorism is a rational response to American imperialism and colonialism. Thus it embraces the notion that if only America stops doing bad things to Muslims the terrorists will fold up and go home.
If that does not work, left thinking people have another solution. They believe that the problem in the Middle East is Israel. They contend that Israel is an occupying, imperialist power and that if only it would make more concessions to the Palestinians, the two nations could live in peace and harmony.
Serious thinkers want to boycott Israel, sanction Israel and divest from Israel. Perhaps they believe that by hurting Israel, by diminishing it, they will help restore Palestinian honor. Or else, they might believe that the best solution to Islamic terrorism is to sacrifice a scapegoat, the nation of Israel. If we give them Israel, perhaps the terrorists will leave us alone.
It might also happen that such a sacrifice would whet their appetite, but don’t tell that to those who have declared economic war against the freest and most prosperous state in the Middle East.
Stephens knows well that terrorists have never been deterred or defeated by self-surrender. They have been invigorated and empowered. He points out that they ultimately want power. They want their culture to triumph. They believe that Islam will conquer the world because Allah wills it.
It might take some time. They are willing to wait. In the meantime, if al Qaeda cannot take over our world, it will do its best to make life more difficult, more uncomfortable, more unsafe, more threatened. It has no intention of being ignored.