Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Another Victim of the London Bombing

Among the casualties of last week's bombings in London is the Bush Administration's half-baked idea that the US occupation of Iraq had caused all the Islamist fanatics to flock to Baghdad to fight our troops, drawing them away from Western countries and cities. The argument, which has become the administration's most recent justification for the war (the initial ones having failed), suggests that it is better to "fight them over there, than to fight them here." On TechCentralStation, Gregory Scoblete labels this the "flypaper strategy."

It's true enough that al Qaeda and its ideological aspirants have swarmed into Iraq. It's also largely irrelevant to the larger question of whether al Qaeda retains the capabilities, and desire, to mount further attacks on Western targets. The attacks in London demonstrate that the jihad network can simultaneously battle U.S. forces in Iraq and mount sophisticated and lethal strikes on Western targets.

The idea that Iraq is an irresistible magnet for jihad, diverting the radicals' attention from U.S. domestic targets, assumes that there is a hard-and-fast number of holy warriors and that once they enter the killing fields of Iraq in sufficient numbers our troubles will be over. It also ignores the still open question of whether the conflict is motivating Muslims who would otherwise have demurred from martyrdom to join the fight and thus constitute a seemingly limitless suicide assembly line.

Flypaper was always a flawed paradigm, but it becomes even more so in the wake of increasing revelations as to the structure of the international Islamist threat. As the London and Madrid attacks show, al Qaeda is an even more decentralized movement than the one that coordinated the 9/11 assault, drawing principally from bin Laden's politics if not his purse. This means that the "central battlefield" on the war on terror is wherever a suitably fanatical Muslim is prepared to blow him/herself up. That U.S. forces are decamped enticingly in Iraq does not mean that terrorists will forsake Western targets.

Indeed, bin Laden recently exhorted his "field commander" in Iraq -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- to broaden his horizons with attacks on the West and against the American homeland. A follow-up strike on American soil is, according to CIA director Porter Goss' senate testimony, the ne plus ultra of the al Qaeda-inspired Islamist movement. An attack against the West in the West is obviously very much in the mind of senior terrorists regardless of the presence of U.S.Iraq. forces in

This is not to suggest that Iraq is not a vastly important battlefield in the war on Islamic terrorism. Terrorists do view the battle for Iraq as a chance to duplicate the Soviet Union's bruising defeat in Afghanistan, which they erroneously credit for its subsequent collapse. In their eyes, an American loss in Iraq (the definition of which is still very fluid) would be an immense moral and psychological victory for the terrorists, proving definitively that America and the West can be cowed with the application of brutal violence. Yet this apocalyptic battle in Iraq is not enough of a lure to ensure that the homeland or allied capitals are secure, and if we draw comfort from the fact that we're battling them "over there" in Iraq it is false comfort indeed.

The grim truth is we're battling them everywhere.

If the Bush administration wants to ensure that we aren't fighting Muslim extremists in the streets of American cities, the best means of preventing that would be make it impossible for them to enter the US. This would mean securing our borders and forbidding entry - whether for business, education or tourism - of persons from certain countries, or persons who meet certain criteria (i.e., young Muslim men and women from Europe, particularly those educated in European universities.). It would also mean stopping all immigration, legal or not, from the Middle East. Unfortunately, this is the one strategy that the Bush administration has made absolutely clear that it will not carry out. If the President is willing - in the middle of the "war on terrorism" - to stand by and permit literally millions of aliens to pour across our southern border, their provenance and intentions unknown, and goes out of his way to condemn those citizen who try to mitigate that invasion, what credibility does the President have when he says he wants to "keep America safe." Answer: none.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home