The way I see it our failure in 1991 to close the net and bag Hussein actually led to many of the events of the 90’s and finally 9/11. Because we didn’t finish off Hussein and had to resort to an armed enforcement of no-fly zones and Kurdish enclaves we were forced to keep troops in the mid east, particularly Saudi Arabia. This set off the far right Wahhabis (the actual 9/11 terrorists) and gave them the cause celebre they needed to raise us to the top of their Satan list. Bin Laden, fresh from being one of our best buddies in Afghanistan, taps the hatred of the Wahhabis and radical Muslims elsewhere and targets us as the focus of his jihad quest. What followed were the WTC I attack, the embassy bombings, the Khobar Towers bombing and various attacks on infidels and the USS Cole attack. All of these were fueled by our presence in the Muslim Holy Land and might very well have not happened were it not for our military presence in Saudi Arabia.
Many Muslims already hated us for our support of Israel. The current day conflict has its roots post-WWII with deadly outbursts in the 70s and 80s to be sure. But the proximate cause of 9/11 in my mind was the consuming hatred that the radicals had for us due to our “occupation” of their holy wasteland since the early 90s. And this was due to our failure to get rid of Hussein while we had the world on our side to defeat this menace even having Arabs in the field with us who could have helped to sort out the good from the bad in Iraq. A legitimate and heavy handed response in Iraq then would have been better received than at any other time. But inadequate follow through negated the success of the military campaign. Sadly, Bush 41 taught his short game to 43 who has now seemingly done the same thing in his dealing with bin Laden, al Zawahari and Omar. Vanquishing the army and missing the targets. Not to be outdone, the current Bush has transcended the father in terms of serial failures on his watch one of which led to a misguided war that most people now agree was wrong. It didn’t just get wrong. It’s been wrong all along.
This administration has done its best (which has been pretty damned good) to cow the press into submission and make people believe that following the current course will prevail in Iraq and somehow contribute toward winning the war on terror. But what would make anyone think that after so many miscues on the little things that somehow this administration got the big things right? Of course, no one wants to see another Vietnam and cut and run is not an option. And our troops deserve our full support because they are certainly doing their jobs despite their civilian leadership. But not acknowledging that the king has no clothes on at this point isn’t the way to go. We are so far down the wrong path in Iraq (which path started with the unguarded munitions dumps and the firing of the army) that I don’t really think that a free and democratic Iraq will emerge as a result of our efforts. Do you? However, I do believe that an acceptable and honorable outcome is still possible but first we need some new leadership that can acknowledge mistakes, make fundamental changes and move on. But change needs to start at the top. Bush should resign. Not just for Iraq but for myriad reasons (for some reasons see here http://trace2000.blogspot.com/2006/01/guest-post.html).
There are many different reasons for wanting to see Bush out of office but my personal favorites are the incommunicado detention of citizens without counsel or even the right of Habeas Corpus and, of course, unwarranted surveillance. These are rights and protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. To deny them is UN-AMERICAN. If these rights can be taken away this easily, there will surely be a next time when the loss of even more liberties occurs. No right is safe when a president can decide that his power transcends that of the law and the courts. We are on the proverbial slippery slope. Either issue if left to stand by the courts will, IMHO, lead ultimately to the end of our form of government. In my mind these reasons alone disqualify Bush for office.
We apparently haven’t gotten to the tipping point yet in Iraq. It took years to get to that point with Vietnam and we even had an unpopular draft then and many more of our guys were dying every week. But times were different then. People were scared of the “Red Menace” and creeping world Communism. Now we’re scared of Terrorists who might fly airplanes into our buildings. I guess things haven’t really changed that much. Complacency and fear still rule.