Heather of Here's What's Left
points to a radio address
by President Bush on 9 July:
We are now waging a global war on terror - from the mountains of Afghanistan to the border regions of Pakistan, to the Horn of Africa, to the islands of the Philippines, to the plains of Iraq. We will stay on the offense, fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them at home.
Emphasis mine. The London bombings, in case you have forgotten, were just two days earlier. I suppose it's possible that Bush doesn't consider London, capital of our closest ally and the second-largest force in the "Coalition of the Willing", as part of "home", and instead counts it as part of the "abroad" where we're fighting the terrorists so we don't have to fight them at "home". You know, so long as it's fer'ners who are dying and not 'Murkins, it's all good. Or he was just bullshitting.
Either way, let's bury the "Flypaper Strategy", shall we?
Because after this, I think it's pretty clear that Flypaper has not worked. The New York Times
is reporting that the bombs were technically advanced and appear to be the work of experts. Newsweek
(via Eric Umansky
) has written about the Class of '05:
In Iraq, on the other hand, hostility toward America is practically the only thing that all insurgents agree on—foreign infiltrators and native recruits alike. And jihadists in Iraq are getting direct, on-the-job training in a real-life insurgency, with hands-on experience in bombing, sniping and all the skills of urban warfare, unlike the essentially artificial training that was given at Al Qaeda's rural Afghan camps.
One of the paper's main points is that America's Iraqi troubles will not end with the insurgency. In effect, Iraq is producing a new corps of master terrorists with an incandescent hatred for the United States—the "class of '05 problem," as it's called in the shorthand of CIA analysts. This war is proving to be longer and nastier than almost anyone expected. One day, its results may be felt closer to home.
It's very possible that someone involved in the attacks spent time honing skills in Iraq. Even if no one involved had been to Iraq, we still have yet another example (after Bali, Madrid, and Beslan, to name a few) of terrorists who have not been attracted to Iraq to be killed by American forces. Instead, they're still happily murdering people around the world.
Flypaper only makes sense if we attract lots of terrorists and would be terrorists to Iraq - and kill enough of them so that they can no longer organize attacks
. We fight - and kill them - in foreign lands so they cannot return to America (And the rest of the Western world - right? They still count too, right?) to launch new attacks. Of course, this was dumb from day number one.
When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, would-be jihadis flocked to the country en masse
. The Soviets spent a decade and lost 15,000 troops fighting the Afghan mujahadeen
and their Arab allies. They killed tens of thousands of them. And yet, after all that, there were still enough jihadis to organize al Qaeda and its associated organizations, and to launch all of their murderous attacks of the last decade and a half. If the Soviets killed tens of thousands over a decade at a cost of 15,000 dead, how many will we have to kill, and at what cost, before we make a dent in the operational capability of terrorists?
It's a meaningless question. No matter how many we kill, more can just take their place. It's like asking: how many murderers do we have to kill before there's no more murder, ever again? We can kill a lot of terrorists, and we can attract a lot of would-be terrorists and kill them before they can do any harm. We can affect the operational capability of some groups and we can destroy others outright. But we can never get them all, because not all of them will go to Iraq, not all of them will be killed, and not all of them even exist yet.
Flypaper never made strategic sense for another reason. Among the many justifications for war (WMD! Freedom! He tried to kill my father!) presented by the Bush administration, flypaper has been getting a lot of play - but so has the neocon justification: turning Iraq into the first Arab democracy, from which democracy will spread to other Arab countries, ending the regimes that made it possible for radical political Islam to grow. Ignoring the fact that many Islamic radicals come from democracies and not dictatorships (how many of the September 11 hijackers lived in Germany?), this is utterly and totally incompatible with flypaper.
We invade an impoverished, brutalized country with barely controlled sectarian divisions. The economy and infrastructure are devastated. Years of war and sanctions have crushed the population. We want, within a matter of months, to turn it into a thriving democracy on the road to economic prosperity. What do we do? Why, we invite terrorists from all over the world to engage the U.S. armed forces in a battle to the death! Genius! The Cunning Realist
raises some moral issues, too:
What gives us the right to use a sovereign nation as a catch basin for carnage so we can go on blissfully consuming and merrily flipping real estate here? Instead of flypaper, this should be called the "Night of the Living Dead Nation" strategy---using the undead, zombie-like carcass of a failed state for our own benefit. Beyond the sheer selfish immorality of it, has anyone thought about the potential for blowback? How would you feel if we were invaded by the Chinese on a false pretense, and they stated openly that their strategy was to attract and fight the scum of the earth in the streets of New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago so they did not have to fight in Beijing?
Even if they thought they could kill lots of terrorists very quickly, they were still trying to attract terrorists, who were going to practice terrorism
, into a country we were trying to rebuild as quickly as possible. The whole point of the war, according to this theory, was to end terrorism in the long-term by destroying the conditions which created it, and that starts with Iraq. It is, according to them, utterly vital to our national security and our survival
. So we take something that's utterly vital to our survival and, just to make sure that we don't get too cocky, toss in some tens of thousands of terrorists. Does this make any sense? Any construction contractors out there? How easy is it to complete a project which is being sabotaged by terrorists while the Marines shoot back?
Either one of these two justifications for the war was utter and total bullshit, or our leaders are even stupider than I had originally thought.