From Spain to Indonesia?

On Wednesday, the 8th-grader-in-chief again pitched the most far-fetched of lies during his speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. They loved it, of course.

In the speech, Bush tried to paint a picture of a dark and terrible future if the US does not keep our soldiers killing and dying in Iraq: that if American military forces were to leave, Osama bin Laden and his Islamo-fascists would become the dictators of all the land from Spain to Indonesia.

Bush has pushed this fearmongering garbage over and over. In this speech he claimed “They have aims,”

These acts are part of a grand strategy by the terrorists. Their stated objective is to drive the United States and coalition forces out of the Middle East so they can gain control of Iraq and use that country as a base from which to launch attacks against America, overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East, and establish a totalitarian Islamic empire that stretches from Spain to Indonesia. Hear the words of the terrorists. In a letter to the terrorist leader Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri has outlined plans that will unfold in several stages. These are his words: Expel the Americans from Iraq. … Establish an Islamic authority over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq. … Extend the jihad wave to secular countries neighboring Iraq. End quote.

…There’s only one way the terrorists can prevail: if we lose our nerve and leave before the job is done. And that is not going to happen on my watch.

The problem with this argument is that the possibility of the new Eurasia-wide Caliphate he conjures – under the dictatorship of Osama bin Laden, no less – is too remote to even be considered fantasy. Zarqawi is a two-bit rapist who only has status due to the propaganda of the US government, and Zawahiri was, at last count, hiding in exile off in the mountains of Pakistan, where the Bush government let him escape.

As reformed War Party stalwart Jack Murtha has pointed out, and as Bush even conceded in this speech and his last at the Council on Foreign Relations, the foreign jihadist types make up less than seven pecent of the resistance, which is primarily run by ex-Ba’athists and blessed by local Sunni Imams. The Imams may not mind the mujahedeen helping out in the short term, but the likelihood that they could ever take over the Sunni triangle, much less all of Iraq, is incredibly low. Even if they did, the Badr and Wolf Brigade monsters, along with the Kurdish peshmergas that the US has nurtured, can surely take ’em. They’re ruthless enough. Hell, the generals had to turn down their offer to help outright, and just let them into the new Iraqi army instead. The US is now protecting the “Terrorists” from the majority we’ve empowered.

The only reason Iraq is the “central front in the war on terror” is because of our invasion and occupation. As Dr. Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism explained to me back in July, suicide terrorism is simply a reaction to foreign occupation, and historically, when the occupation ends, the radical groups’ recruitment dries up as people go back to their lives. The longer US forces stay, the worse off we all are, as new jihadist recruitment increases and more American tax dollars go down the drain.

In other words, Bush is completely full of it.

As Robert Higgs explains in his article for the current issue of the Independent Review [.pdf], “Fear: The Foundation of Every Government’s Power,” in which he argues that fear is not simply a useful tool of state power, but the very basis of it,

“Over the ages, governments refined their appeals to popular fears, fostering an ideology that emphasizes the people’s vulnerability to a variety of internal and external dangers from which the governors—of all people!—are represented to be their protectors. Government, it is claimed, protects the populace from external attackers and from internal disorder, both of which are portrayed as ever-present threats. Sometimes the government, as if seeking to nourish the mythology with grains of truth, does protect people in this fashion—even the shepherd protects his sheep, but he does so to serve his own interest, not theirs, and when the time comes, he will shear or slaughter them as his interest dictates.”

On another occasion, though he quickly contradicted himself, the president actually told the truth about the enemy. Al Qaeda, he said, is “more like a loose network with many branches than an army.”

As long as we keep letting the politicians frame the debate around such far-fetched fears as a multicontinental Islamo-Fascist Caliphate, the argument will never, finally, get to the point: In order to win the fight against anti-American terrorism, our foreign interventionism must end.

Author: Scott Horton

Scott Horton is editorial director of, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003. Scott lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, investigative reporter Larisa Alexandrovna Horton. He is a fan of, but no relation to the lawyer from Harper’s. Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.

62 thoughts on “From Spain to Indonesia?”

  1. The Imams may not mind the mujahedeen helping out in the short term, but the likelihood that they could ever take over the Sunni triangle, much less all of Iraq, is incredibly low.

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