Towards A Good Samaritan World

Thursday, June 30, 2005


Belmont Club has a post on "extraordinary rendition."

Still fewer want to admit that security is obtained by force; information by compulsion; or that war involves violence. The process of "extraordinary rendition" is a case study in laundering responsibility; a description of how a commodity is provided by an astute political division of labor. The commodity in question is defense against Islamic terrorism...

Italy wanted to be rid of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, a suspected terrorist, but was unwilling, for domestic political considerations, to act against him. Therefore it arranged to have the United States snatch him from Milan. The United States wanted information from Nasr, but for domestic political reasons, was unable to apply torture to get it, however much the Left wanted that to be true. Therefore it passed him to Egypt for actual questioning. It goes on. Canada wanted to move on a Syrian-born Canadian citizen suspected of terrorist links, which is, as everyone knows, a very un-Canadian thing to do. So it got America to do it for them. "In Canada, a government inquiry has revealed a greater role by Canadian intelligence in the Justice Department's secret 2002 'expedited removal' of a Syrian-born Canadian citizen to Syria after he was detained as he changed flights at a New York airport."

Extraordinary rendition tends to be criticized by the left. But compare the case for extraordinary rendition with Timothy Garton Ash's reasoning for why the Iraq war was a "blunder":

Bush[, in his] Fort Bragg speech... made this extraordinary statement: "To complete the mission, we will prevent al-Qaida and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban - a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends."

Consider. Three years ago, when the Bush administration started ramping up the case for invading Iraq, Afghanistan had recently been liberated from both the Taliban and the al-Qaida terrorists who had attacked the US. There was still a vast amount to be done to make Afghanistan a safe place. Iraq, meanwhile, was a hideous dictatorship under Saddam Hussein. But, as the United States' own September 11 commission subsequently concluded, Saddam's regime had no connection with the 9/11 attacks. Iraq was not then a recruiting sergeant or training ground for jihadist terrorists. Now it is. The US-led invasion, and Washington's grievous mishandling of the subsequent occupation, have made it so. General Wesley Clark puts it plainly: "We are creating enemies." And the president observes: our great achievement will be to prevent Iraq becoming another Taliban-style, al-Qaida-harbouring Afghanistan! This is like a man who shoots himself in the foot and then says: "We must prevent it turning gangrenous, then you'll understand why I was right to shoot myself in the foot."

So why does Ash think that the Iraq war was a bad idea, even though he concedes that Saddam's Iraq was a "hideous dictatorship"? Because it wasn't breeding Islamic terrorists. Why wasn't it breeding Islamic terrorists? Well, it was in that Saddam was financing Hezbollah and Hamas, but put that aside for now. And then there were the contacts between al-Qaeda guys and Saddam in the 1990s, but... well, never mind about all that, I'm getting sidetracked. Why wasn't Saddam's Iraq breeding Islamic terrorists? Because Saddam's torture-and-fear machine was killing any so inclined.

In essence, the left's alternative to the Iraq was extraordinary rendition writ large. Let Saddam do our dirty work for us.


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