In aftermath of the bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad we’re already starting to see that pattern so familiar from before and after the war: the tendency to fit new data into ideologically familiar and politically convenient packages.
Specifically, we’re already seeing suggestions that the bombing is the work of a) al Qaida, or b) Ansar al Islam, the al Qaida-linked Kurdish jihadist group in northern Iraq, or c) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the alleged link between al Qaida and Saddam who worked out of the section of Iraqi Kurdistan controlled by Ansar, and is implicated in the assassination of US diplomat Lawrence Foley in Amman last October.
Now, any of these could be true. Indeed, all of them could be true, since they all fold together neatly, one on top of the other.
But there doesn’t seem to be much evidence at the moment that any of them is true.
Bernard Kerik was Police Commissioner of New York City on 9/11 and now serves — in a detail which would make the novel version of this story seem totally cheesy — as the de facto police commissioner of Baghdad. Here’s what he said yesterday, according to an article in the Times …
No one has taken responsibility for the bombing, officials said. But Mr. Kerik expressed skepticism about reports today that the attack appeared to be the work of Ansar al-Islam, a terrorist group formerly based in northern Iraq, or Al Qaeda.
“It’s all a guessing game right now,” he said. “Nothing is leading us in that direction.”
The state of affairs in Baghdad is such at the moment that it might be easier to come up with a list of groups and personages who don’t have some possible motive for bombing the Jordanian embassy, rather than those that do. And on the list of those that do, a convenient suspect like al Qaeda probably doesn’t even figure at the top of the list. Indeed, there are other potential suspects at least equally high on that list who would be extremely inconvenient from the US perspective.
My only point is that we should not jump to the most convenient conclusions ahead of the evidence. This is especially so since our main problem in Iraq thus far has been our tendency to see the situation on the ground through the distorting prisms of ideology and wishful thinking.