Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy -- Nevertheless, What To Do?

One of my more recent arguments concerning Iraq has been that Iraq is now a hotbed of Islamic terrorism due to President Bush's illegal and ill-conceived invasion and occupation. Yesterday, Bob Herbert of the NYTs made essentially the same point:
The C.I.A. warned the administration in a classified report in May that Iraq - since the American invasion in 2003 - had become a training ground in which novice terrorists were schooled in assassinations, kidnappings, car bombings and other terror techniques. The report said Iraq could prove to be more effective than Afghanistan in the early days of Al Qaeda as a place to train terrorists who could then disperse to other parts of the world, including the United States.

Larry Johnson, a former C.I.A. analyst who served as deputy director of the State Department's counterterrorism office, said on National Public Radio last week: "You now in Iraq have a recruiting ground in which jihadists, people who previously were not willing to go out and embrace the vision of bin Laden and Al Qaeda, are now aligning themselves with elements that have declared allegiance to him. And in the course of that, they're learning how to build bombs. They're learning how to conduct military operations."
Yet again, a liberal commentator, whom I agree with almost all the time, forgets to recommend a strategy to combat these Islamic terrorists that have found a haven in Iraq. Here's Herbert's less than stellar conclusion to an otherwise good op-ed:
The immediate challenge to President Bush is to dispense with the destructive fantasies of the true believers in his administration and to begin to see America's current predicament clearly. New voices with new approaches and new ideas need to be heard. The hole we're in is deep enough. We need to stop digging.
With London and Madrid now solidified into the European consciousness, it's time the West -- whether through the U.N. or NATO -- joins together in good faith to train and equip the Iraqi security forces to combat the leftover Baathist thugs and foreign militants now calling Iraq home, while the international community provides the development funds necessary to get a homegrown Iraqi economy off the ground so unemployment diminishes as hope increases. On top of this, President Bush needs to say publicly and without equivocation that the U.S. will not build permanent military bases in Iraq. It's as simple as this, permanent military bases signal to an occupied countries' population, "We're not leaving," and remains one of the key characteristics of imperialism -- as well as a key recruitment tool of al-Qaeda. (The U.S. has already started constructing "enduring bases," which will probably spill over into a permanent military presence. Will we ever learn a lesson?)

Like it or not though, Iraq is a swamp for terrorists and while the Bush Administration created this disaster in Iraq, his logic is self-fulfillingly correct,
"We will continue to take the fight to the enemy, and we will fight until this enemy is defeated."
Am I comfortable with this logic, no, nor should anyone else, but I certainly don't want to see another 9/11, another 3/11, another 7/7, nor more U.S. occupations of foreign lands. (While there inevitably will be more terrorist attacks, there doesn't need to be anymore imperial ventures abroad.) The task now is to take the fight to Islamic militants in Iraq and Afghanistan surgically and discriminately while domestic security forces take out the decentralized cells of franchise terrorists everywhere.

What other choice do we have?