A disagreement between enemies

The president issues some high-sounding utterances about Iraq:

"Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror".

Excuse me - I do not recall reading about suicide bombings, car bombings, kidnappings and hostage-taking, rival militias, beheadings, drive-by shootings, daily assassinations, and targeting of innocent civilians in mosques and markets in Iraq before the Americans arrived. So I have to conclude that Bush's statement is wrong here - it is the Americans who have made Iraq "a central front" in the "war on terror".

While we're on the subject, let me point out something that seems to have escaped the grasp of Bush, his egg-head flunkies, and the disgusting sycophants who sidle up to him in the press: militants, both Iraqi and non-Iraqi, are using Iraq as a testing and training ground for the future. Getting rid of the Americans and their longer-term goals, whatever they are, are certainly important, but they do not see their struggle ending there. People who would like to see what is going on Iraq as some kind of desperate struggle on the part of the militants/terrorists/call-them-whatever-you-like to defeat America then and there need to get a clue.

Consider Afghanistan: militants there ("freedom fighters", according to Reagan, who loved to equate them to figures such as Jefferson, Franklin and Madison) were involved in the next decade and later in operations in places like Bosnia, Chechnya and, of course, New York City on 11 September 2001. Afghanistan was a training ground, an irreplaceable venue for recruiting hard-core believers and instilling them with a solid and coherent ideology (in addition to the logistical and military/tactical aspects). Afghanistan may have been a graveyard for the Soviets, but it was a maternity ward for radical militants who have not yet ended their careers.

A similar thing is going on in Iraq. Militants are coming in and/or being developed locally there. The less-capable will be killed off, as will those who are happy to go the way of martyrdom. The more capable recruits, who want to stay alive for as long as possible so to inflict the maximum damage possible, will survive and be around to put their expertise (developed thanks to the American intervention) to use in the next decade and beyond. Iraq is not the West Bank - the US does not have a captive population living in a little ghetto, members of which it can track down and assassinate with F-16s, helicopters, or death squads. This is a large country, exit and entry into which is relatively easy.

So the idea that pacifying Iraq will end a "central front" on the "war on terror" is completely preposterous. But this analysis should not be seen as vindication of the bad old "fly-paper" hypothesis: the idea that the more talented militants, who have survived their ordeal, gained experience against all odds, and thus seen their beliefs and actions vindicated, will be content to limit their operations to Iraq is dubious in the extreme. So the Bush administrations is not limiting the "battle field" to Iraq; on the contrary, it is providing a giant training camp that will make it possible for militants to expand the arena of conflict.

The standard of success here is not measured year-by-year in one country; it must be seen in terms of decades and regionally and even globally. Thus, the fruits of America's Iraq disaster are not just the tens of thousands of dead Iraqis and the 1700 dead US soldiers; the fruits from this rotten tree will keep falling for years to come.

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