As George Bush leaves office, he can claim that he kept our country safe from attack for the past seven years. In the weeks following 9/11, we fully expected al-Qaeda to attack the US as often as possible, a threat which Bush and his team took very seriously, and defused. Or did they? Ron Suskind attempted to claim last night on Hardball that AQ didn’t really want to attack us over that period (via Radio Vice Online):
This demonstrates how difficult proving a negative can be. Had Winston Churchill become Prime Minister in the mid-1930s and attacked Hitler when he violated treaties and sent the Wehrmacht into the Rhineland, he would have been known in history as a warmonger, even if Churchill had succeeded in ending Hitler’s career. If Bush had known of the AQ attack on 9/11 ahead of time and begun rounding up suspects, he would have been castigated as a fascist (and he was afterward by certain lunatic parts of the body politic, anyway – as was Churchill, until Hitler attacked the USSR). Without Poland in 1939 and the actual attack of 9/11, preventive measures look either disproportionate or completely unnecessary.
Suskind’s argument makes little sense. He says that Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri simply didn’t want to attack the US, despite years of propaganda threatening to do just that. Let’s work on Suskind’s premise for the moment. If AQ didn’t have to worry about wiretaps, counterterrorist efforts, and enhanced security in the US, would Suskind argue that AQ would simply have passed on the opportunity to attack The Great Satan, especially when we spent the last few years destroying their network in Iraq? If they weren’t motivated to launch an attack in the US, isn’t it just possible that their lack of motivation came from the likelihood of failure under this adminstration?
We’ve been kept safe from attack from a vicious enemy for the last seven years, which seemed almost impossible in late September of 2001. That’s an accomplishment in which Bush can take considerable pride, no matter what absurdities appear on MS-NBC. And as for that argument not being “coherent”, would Suskind believe that a successful large-scale terrorist attack in the US would not have been an indication of failure?