The first is that right after 9/11, Iran was cooperating, through back door diplomatic channels, with the US. They delivered lists of suspected al Qaeda operatives and leaders that had attempted to transition through Iran but had been sent back to their home country: Saudi Arabia. The list also included al Qaeda suspects who were in virtual house arrest in Iran. In exchange for this, the Iranians wanted the US to interview a couple of detainees in GITMO who were suspected of killing several people in Iran.
But the neocons would have none of it; and this valuable conduit of information was closed. Weeks later Bush would include Iran in his "axis of evil."
The second was that many former Bush administration members have started using terms like "cancer" and "metastacizing" to describe what's happened to al Qaeda and their ability to recruit since the beginning of the Iraq war.
Jihadist terrorism has always posed what strategists call an "asymmetric threat," capable of inflicting catastrophic harm against a much stronger foe. But the way it operates, they said, is changing. Students of al Qaeda used to speak of it as a network with "key nodes" that could be attacked. More recently they have described the growth of "franchises." Gordon and Falkenrath pioneered an analogy, before leaving government, with an even less encouraging prognosis.Remember these two paragraphs when Bush next says that we've captured or killed 75% of the leaders of al Qaeda. The leaders don't matter any more.
Jihadists "metastasized into a lot of little cancers in a lot of different countries," Gordon said recently. They formed "groups, operating under the terms of a movement, who don't have to rely on al Qaeda itself for funding, for training or for authority. [They operate] at a level that doesn't require as many people, doesn't require them to be as well-trained, and it's going to be damned hard to get in front of that."
Despite these things, readily visible to anyone not wearing the rose colored glasses so in vogue with Republicans these days, Bush continues to be "resolute" and to "stay the course." He continues to use the same, tired, disproved rhetoric:
Most officials interviewed said Bush has not devised an answer to a problem then-CIA Director George J. Tenet identified publicly on Feb. 11, 2003 -- "the numbers of societies and peoples excluded from the benefits of an expanding global economy, where the daily lot is hunger, disease, and displacement -- and that produce large populations of disaffected youth who are prime recruits for our extremist foes."Just as in the US, BushCo. ignores the plight of the poor and displaced and forges ahead in their misguided zeal to impose their own vision of the future on the world. But we've seen what that vision can bring during the past four years. We've seen the destructive and divisive power of that vision; a vision so limited by ideology and corporate ties.
The president and his most influential advisers, many officials said, do not see those factors -- or U.S. policy overseas -- as primary contributors to the terrorism threat. Bush's explanation, in private and public, is that terrorists hate America for its freedom.
It is well past time for a new vision.