A report issued this past Wedensday from the United Nations bolstered the conclusions of a U.S. intelligence study concluding that the Iraq War has brought about a surge in Al Qaeda membership. Recruits are flooding to Al Qaeda in Iraq and in Afganistan. Support for Al Qaeda in Iraq may wane, since some recruits expressed dismay that they would have to kill fellow Muslims. Nevertheless, Al Qaeda is seeing its numbers growing elsewhere.

Parts of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate leaked out this week, concluding that Al Qaeda numbers were “increasing in both number and geographic dispersion” due to the Iraq war. The study, prepared in April, said that the war had become a “cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton made a curious remark in the wake of the release of this information. “If you said after the attack on Pearl Harbor that the American response had increased the violence in the Pacific, you would be right, wouldn’t you? Because violence did increase after the attack and after our response,” he told reporters. “We are in conflict with international terrorism and the nature of that conflict is playing out in Iraq,” he said.

So is Bolton comparing America to Japan in his comments? After all, Iraq never attacked the United States, and the claims from the administration that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, or were somehow involved in the plot of September 11, 2001, evaporated with the President’s own words on August 21, 2006:

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I’ve heard this theory about everything was just fine until we arrived, and kind of “we’re going to stir up the hornet’s nest” theory. It just doesn’t hold water, as far as I’m concerned. The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.

Q What did Iraq have to do with that?

THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q The attack on the World Trade Center?


Okay. So there must be more. After all, the President must be able to explain himself. Well, there was an explanation. There is a comma, not a period, in the White House transcripts from the news conference. Here’s the explanation:

THE PRESIDENT: Nothing, except for it’s part of — and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a — the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective. I have made that case.

So, in the President’s own words, “resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective.” That seems to be the conclusion of the U.N. That seems to be the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence study. Except they don’t blame Saddam Hussein for the growing number of terrorists.

They seem to blame someone else.