Wrong War, Wrong Time

From Yahoo News:

Think Tank: Iraq War Distracted U.S.

TEL AVIV, Israel – The war in Iraq did not damage international terror groups, but instead distracted the United States from confronting other hotbeds of Islamic militancy and actually “created momentum” for many terrorists, a top Israeli security think tank said in a report released Monday.

President Bush has called the war in Iraq an integral part of the war on terrorism, saying that deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein hoped to develop unconventional weapons and could have given them to Islamic militants across the world.

But the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University said that instead of striking a blow against Islamic extremists, the Iraq war “has created momentum for many terrorist elements, but chiefly al-Qaida and its affiliates.”

Jaffee Center director Shai Feldman said the vast amount of money and effort the United States has poured into Iraq has deflected attention and assets from other centers of terrorism, such as Afghanistan.

The concentration of U.S. intelligence assets in Iraq “has to be at the expense of being able to follow strategic dangers in other parts of the world,” he said.

Shlomo Brom, a retired Israeli army general, said the U.S.-led effort was strategically misdirected. If the goal in the war against terrorism is “not just to kill the mosquitos but to dry the swamp,” he said, “now it’s quite clear” that Iraq “is not the swamp.”

Instead, he said, the Iraq campaign is having the opposite effect, drawing Islamic extremists from other parts of the world to join the battle.

“On a strategic level as well as an operational level,” Brom concluded, “the war in Iraq is hurting the war on international terrorism.”

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