I must have imagined it. I couldn't possibly have heard that.
But in Bush's April 3 Rose Garden appearance, this dialog took place:
Q You've talked about the consequences of failure in Iraq, and you've said that enemies would follow us home. I wonder, given that, it seems like that's not exactly a ringing endorsement of people who are charged with the responsibility of keeping America safe. So what --
THE PRESIDENT: What was that again, Ed?
Q Well, you say that the enemies would follow us home --
THE PRESIDENT: I will -- that's what they'll do, just like September the 11th. They plotted, planned, and attacked.
Q So I wonder, in your own mind, how does that vision play out? How do they follow us home? Because we've spent so much money and put so much resources into making this country safer.
THE PRESIDENT: Ed, I'm not going to predict to you the methodology they'll use. Just you need to know they want to hit us again.
Bush went on to explain how America has tightened security at home to protect against a terrorist attack, but am I imagining it or was there certainty in Bush's statement that if we end the war in Iraq there is no doubt that we will be hit with another attack?
Here's the thing, and I think the questioner Ed in the dialog above was pointing to this situation. If, over five years into this War on Terror, if we will certainly be attacked again simply because we stop the Iraq phase of the war, then isn't it true that in the war we have made no progress at all against terrorists in the past five years? Bush is saying that if we stop fighting in Iraq, the terrorists will immediately find "safe haven" from which to launch attacks against the United States.
Many find it ironic that this safe haven essentially didn't exist in Iraq until after the US invasion in 2003. Republican propagandists try to insinuate that it did, but it really didn't exist. Saddam and bin Laden were no allies. It has been well documented that bin Laden detested secular Iraq. Saddam and bin Laden were enemies. But now, after the US overthrew Saddam and saw to it that he was executed, now Iraq is open to bin Laden's army. Or at least that's how the White House is painting the picture.
To call that progress is stretching the powers of my imagination, but somehow the powers down in Washington all seem to be able to embrace this logic. The funding will continue one way or the other.
But there is another side to this coin. We do pride ourselves on our national amnesia, but back in 2001 after the September 11 attack, and actually for a few years leading up to the attack, there was a common thread of thought that kept reminding us that the reason why terrorists kept attacking us was because they knew we wouldn't hit back. The terrorists saw the West as weak so they could hit us and we would back off, find other ways to meet our energy needs besides meddling in Middle East politics.
Arguments like that never go away. Some still claim that the world is flat or that Creation happened 6,000 years ago. But the argument that Americans wouldn't strike back if hit again doesn't hold much water anymore. We don't generally think that way now, not since 9/11. Now we understand that a terrorist attack would be a provocation. Who can doubt that now? Another terrorist attack in the US would provoke the American people to focus again on attacking the terrorist networks.
There can be no doubt that Americans aren't the only ones who understand this. The "terrorists" know it too. So the message that would be delivered by any terrorist attack now would be "Come out and fight!"
Ironically, that is precisely the message that President Bush is giving us too!