Fouad Ajami is no doubt a brilliant man and someone with a lot of insight on the Arab world. But he seems to believe that the war in Iraq was justified because Iraqis are Arabs, and Arabs are the dominant force in Al Qaeda. I remember reading an Andrew Sullivan blog post a while back (UPDATE on 12/10/2010: I found Sullivan’s post that I referred to and another instance of the same thing here) that pointed to this idea in an Ajami article. Here it is again in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed:
George W. Bush answered history’s call — as he saw fit. The country gave him its warrant and acceptance, and then withdrew it in the latter years of his presidency. Say what you will about his call to vigilance, he had a coherent worldview. He held the line when the world of Islam was truly in the wind and played upon by ruinous temptations. He took the war on terror into the heart of the Arab world. It was Arabs — with oil money, and with the prestige that comes with their mastery of Arabic, the language of the Quran, among impressionable Pakistanis and Afghans — who had made Afghanistan the menace it had become. Without Arab money and Arab doctrines of political Islam, the Taliban would have remained a breed of reactionary seminarians, a terror to their own people but of no concern beyond. It thus made perfect strategic sense to take the fight to the Arab heartland of Islam. Saddam Hussein had drawn the short straw.
Not only is that no justification for a war against Iraq, it doesn’t seem like justification for war at all. It would seem that there are far better tools to combat “Arab money and Arab doctrines” than full-scale invasion of a country. But that’s not exactly a new criticism.
Hat tip: Tom Ricks