September 28, 2006

Let me see if I get this right: Democrats are shouting that the selected portions of the recent, unlawfully released (and certainly classified) National Intelligence Estimate prove that the Iraq war has resulted in us being less safe than we were before 9/11.

Okay, for the sake of argument, and there's plenty of it, let's twist their conclusion a little bit. Does that mean if we hadn't gone into Iraq in the first place, we'd be safer than we were before 9/11? Or maybe it means if we were doing better in Iraq, we'd be safer.

What's the point? Of course, there are more terrorists around the world now since 9/11, and of course the world is a less safe place since then. Just ask the people of Bali, Indonesia, where over 200 people were killed in a terrorist attack three years ago. Indonesia, as an aside, is a predominantly Muslim nation. Moreover, it wasn't involved in either Iraq or Afghanistan. But that didn't stop them from being the victims of radical Islamic extremists from within.

What, then, has caused the spread of terrorism, if not the Iraq war? Well, consider the fact that for starters, extremists around the world were thrilled at the events of 9/11. That alone inspired thousands of them to join an already-existing jihad. Yes, it was already existing. Prior to 9/11, tens of thousands of jihadists had already attended Al-Qaeda sponsored training camps in Afghanistan. And when they returned home to perhaps as many as 60 different countries, are we to assume that they just quietly returned to their day jobs? Perhaps, and this may be a surprise to some, they took what they had learned in training, started building out cellular terrorist infrastructures, and began recruiting fellow jihadists. All this, of course, while they passionately watched FOX News to see what the latest atrocity was that Americans supposedly had thrust upon fellow Muslims somewhere around the globe.

What else might have made the world, and the U.S., less safe? How about the fact that there are radical clerics spewing hate against the U.S. and Israel from pulpits around the world, in places where they're not challenged about what they have to say, or the passionate, hate-filled effect it has on their followers for that matter. Interestingly enough, they've been doing that long before 9/11 and our incursion into Iraq.

How about the Islamic schools teaching young children from the earliest age to hate America, Israel, and the west? That too pre-dates events in Iraq, and much of that is going on right here in the U.S.

How about Hezbollah quietly sending operatives and supporters into the United States long before the war in Iraq? Their recent war with Israel reminded Americans that they are a threat to us also.

The bottom line in all of this is that while American politics plays out its divisive, self-serving nature on the world stage, those who hate us and are determined to strike at us are having a joyous time watching. We show our weaknesses and vulnerabilities to everyone who wants to watch, and it certainly strengthens them at a time when we need to be weakening them.

Our country WILL be safer when the political lunacy stops. Washington is chock full of politicians who, after all is peeled away, are only concerned about the next election. The exceptions, and there are some, are truly rare. If this debate were honestly about the safety and security of the nation and its citizenry, we'd all be working as one to ensure that we met that goal. Instead, we're in a game of political hackery, which serves none of us well.

Lt. Col. Bill Cowan is a FOX News Channel contributor and internationally-acknowledged expert in the areas of terrorism, homeland security, intelligence and military special operations. He spent 11 years doing undercover operations in Lebanon against Hezbollah and Syria. Read his full bio here.