At the outset, I readily concede that Tucker is a genuine expert on these matters, and that my comments are at best those of a casual observer. That said, a few thoughts. First, Tucker says that the question was never either/or. I concede that this is true as a matter of official policy and for those like Tucker who understand the issues, but for those in the pundit class or on the political left, the question was often framed in either/or dimensions. When some of these commentators said "why are we going into Iraq when the real threat is terror," the idea was not that we should wait and address Iraq later, it was often a challenge to the idea that there was any relation, and a criticism of ever addressing Iraq. This seems to have been at least a partial catalyst behind the "Bush hasn’t made the case" school of thought, which still has carried some marginal resonance. A similar situation arises in how the left looks at missile defense. There are some who question whether we should focus our efforts on costly systems to shoot down missiles when there are suitcase bombs. While there are some who are making an argument based on priorities, there are many who simply think we shouldn’t do missile defense period. Thus, my comment was not directed at those who have questions about the timing of America’s response to Iraq--that is, those who see a correlation between Iraq and terror--but rather was directed at those who see America’s response to Iraq as unnecessary or unrelated to the war on terror.
As for the thought experiment, my only question would be whether what America is facing is more like a face-to-face confrontation with a gunman, or a series of guerilla attacks by a band of outlaws. If faced with a gunman, you certainly disarm him before worrying about who gave him the gun. If, however, you are facing random attacks by a band of outlaws, it may be necessary to knock out those who you know are supplying them with weapons and money, so that you aren’t confronted with better armed outlaws.