The grim daily reports of U.S. and Iraqi casualties tend to blur in the minds of war-weary Americans into an undifferentiated image of ongoing war. At best, those who see the terrible displays of constant violence are willing to concede that, perhaps, America was right to depose the bloodthirsty dictator, Saddam Hussein; but now that he has been replaced by a civil war, we have no more business there.
Unfortunately, such a myopic view ignores the reality that the situation in Iraq is far more dangerous to the world than a civil war. In fact, by the insurgents’ own admission, Iraq has become the central front in the worldwide war on terrorism.
As far as terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden is concerned, this has been the case since the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2003. Newsweek reported then the senior leadership of al-Qaida met with their Taliban counterparts in Afghanistan to deliver some bad news: At the orders of bin Laden, al-Qaida would be switching large numbers of its fighters from the anti-American insurgency in Afghanistan to serve a greater purpose in Iraq.
The reported reason: bin Laden felt Iraq offered a greater opportunity than Afghanistan for fulfilling the jihadi obligation of killing as many servants of the Great Satan and its allies as possible. According to the report, bin Laden believes Iraq is the main battlefield to defeat the “American Crusaders,” just as Salahadin once defeated the original Crusaders.
More ominously, a Taliban participant in the meeting was quoted as saying bin Laden has declared the fighting in Iraq to be “100 percent successful so far.” He quoted bin Laden as saying, “The spilling of American blood is easy in Iraq. The Americans are drowning in deep, rising water.”
Iraq has become a deadly convocation of terrorist forces – most of them armed, sent and supported by Iran and Syria – dedicated to killing as many American infidels as possible as they struggle to replace Iraq’s nascent democracy with extremist Islamist rule.
If the forces of democracy lose this battle in Iraq, the appetite of worldwide terrorism will only be whetted. As President George W. Bush warned nearly four years ago, “We are fighting that enemy today so that we do not meet him again on our own streets.”
These reports were confirmed by the president in a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy in May, when he revealed intelligence information on bin Laden’s plans for Iraq. Previously, President Bush had warned against the true enemy the world is facing in Iraq: “We’re facing a radical ideology with an unalterable objective – to enslave whole nations and intimidate the whole world.
“The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.”
In his address, the president again stressed that the conflict in Iraq has become a showdown between the totalitarian politics of Islamist fanaticism masquerading as religion and the only superpower that can defend the world against it.
“In the minds of al-Qaida leaders, 9/11 was just a down payment on violence yet to come,” President Bush said. “Here in America, we are living in the eye of a storm,” he said. “All around us, dangerous winds are swirling, and these winds could reach our shores at any moment.”
Nevertheless, he continued, at this critical moment the battle that must be won is in Iraq. “Hear the words of Osama bin Laden,” President Bush said. “He calls the struggle in Iraq a ‘war of destiny.’ He proclaimed, ‘The war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever.’” As President Bush concluded: “Victory in Iraq is important for Osama bin Laden, and victory in Iraq is vital for the United States of America.”