On the Record

Confusion Between War on Terror and Iraq War

Michael E. O’Hanlon

HAMISH ROBERTSON, host: This week’s survey of global public opinion by the Pew Research Centre does paint a pretty grim picture of the damage the war seems to have done to Washington’s standing in the world. Now, although the influence of the neo-conservatives on the Bush administration has diminished in recent months, isn’t the United States going to face a great deal of bridge building and bridge mending in the future?

MICHAEL O’HANLON: I suppose that’s true, and again I agree with George, but I think it’s also worth underscoring that there is a certain firmness and durability to the relationship on at least most things.

I take the point that policy towards the Middle East could become even more of a debating issue than it’s been in the past, and it certainly has often been that in the past. But I think on issues, for example, such as the stabilisation of Afghanistan, one has to believe there will be continued cooperation and also in the global war on terror, if one means by that essentially everything except Iraq, and that’s what I mean, ’cause I do not believe Saddam was in cahoots with al-Qaeda. If you look at intelligence cooperation, law enforcement cooperation, crackdowns and clampdowns on financial flows that terrorists use to make possible their activities—there continues to be very good cooperation, and there will continue to be because it’s in everyone’s interest to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

So on that issue I think that you’ll see the alliance in sort of the classical Article 5 sense, focused on its own mutual self-interest and self-defence requirements, continue to have a great deal of meaning.

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