A New York Times/CBS News poll just found 51 percent of Americans see no link between the fight in Iraq and the broader anti-terror effort—a ten percent jump since June. The alleged connection was a central part of President George Bush’s 2004 campaign against Sen. John Kerry, when Bush repeatedly asserted ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda. But that link has apparently evaporated, according to none other than Bush, who touched on the subject in a Monday press conference:
THE PRESIDENT: 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?
THE PRESIDENT: Nothing. . .Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.
What hasn’t changed is Bush’s view that bailing out of Iraq will cause it to devolve into a terrorist base. At the press conference he went on to say:
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. And one way to defeat that — defeat resentment is with hope.
The United States is creating hope in Iraq? Yeah right. Though many Iraqis do seem to support Condi Rice’s “New Middle East,” such as those who were rallying in the streets of Baghdad this month in solidarity with Hezbollah.