July 26, 2007


Prof. Juan ColeJuan_cole (left), on his excellent, award-winning blog on Iraq and the Middle East, made mincemeat yesterday of Bush's claims -- in his much bally-hooed Tuesday speech --  that the U.S. is fighting Al Qaeda and "foreign" terrorists in Iraq. Here is part of what Cole -- who teaches Middle East Studies at the University of Michigan, who is fluent in Arabic, and who regularly provides news unavailable elsewhere translated from the Arab-language press -- had to say about the president's tendentious, duplicitous speech:

"Bush (at right, being micturated on by an Iraqi at a popular, specially-built pissoir) alleged that the 'al-Qaeda' fighters in Iraq are professional terrorists. He said that ifBush_iraqi_pissing  he had not invaded Iraq, they would even so have been busy engaging in violence.

"An analysis of persons named as fighters on Internet sites 18 months ago vigorously contests Bush's allegation:

'Out of 429 fighters only 22 (5.1%) have had fighting experience in other regions, demonstrating that the foreign fighters in Iraq do indeed constitute the third generation of Salafi-jihadists. . . It is worth noting that 17 out of 31 fighters [on which there was education data] quit their education to join the fight against the American occupation. This is also evident in the high percentage of BA degree holders (19.4%), which is different from what typically occurs in Salafi-jihadist movements, whose ideologues are normally the ones with high levels of education while the fighters are mostly young men who have not completed their education. . . Another interesting fact is that 22 of those fighters are married, and among those whose career status is known, 8 out of 18 (44%) work in the private sector, with some even being investors. This lends further credence to the notion that the occupation of Iraq, and all the excesses that surrounds it, is generating new developments in erstwhile socio-economically stable Salafi-jihadi networks.'

"The small band of some 1200 foreign fighters in Iraq are not for the most part career terrorists as far as anyone can tell. They are too young, at an average of 27, for that description. They are a new generation. They were college students and financiers who became angry about Bush's military occupation of a Muslim Arab country. In the absence of that invasion, they would still be at ordinary ho-hum jobs.

"Bush says that his occupation of Iraq cannot explain the violent tactics of the "al-Qaeda insurgents" there. He says that the US was not in Iraq during the Embassy bombings of 1998, the attack on the US Cole in 2000, or September 11.

"This talking point is pure propaganda on many fronts. First of all, Bush has not established that the foreign jihadis in Iraq are 'al-Qaeda' in any significant sense. So his attempt to sneak in a continuity here is not legitimate. Second, while it is true that nothing justifies the violence of al-Qaeda (especially against a ship named the Cole!), it is not true that it lacks all context or motive or that US actions in Iraq were irrelevant to it. Muslim activists believed that US sanctions on Iraq were responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children in the 1990s, and the US continued from time to time to bomb the country..."

Read the rest of Prof. Cole's long, highly informative post by clicking here -- it includes an acid dissection of Rudy Giuliani's factless attack on Rep. Ron Paul over Iraq in the recent presidential debate among Republicans.

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