blogenlust
2.17.2005

Terrorism Link To Iraq


This article from the Washington Post highlights the danger of defining victory in Iraq as being able to hold an election. The fact is that the effects of our actions and mishandling of the post-war period have yet to play out, and according to US military and intelligence officials, it may not be a happy ending:
The insurgency in Iraq continues to baffle the U.S. military and intelligence communities, and the U.S. occupation has become a potent recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, top U.S. national security officials told Congress yesterday. "Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists," CIA Director Porter J. Goss told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism," he said. "They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries." [...] "Our policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment," Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate panel. "Overwhelming majorities in Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia believe the U.S. has a negative policy toward the Arab world." Jacoby said the Iraq insurgency has grown "in size and complexity over the past year" and is now mounting an average of 60 attacks per day, up from 25 last year. Attacks on Iraq's election day last month reached 300, he said, double the previous one-day high of 150, even though transportation was virtually locked down.
60 attacks a day? Pshaw! There are 60 muggings in NYC every day!! Or so Brit Hume might say. On a serious note, this is a perspective that needs to be aired more publically. I am surprised by how often I encounter people who don't take into consideration the physics of international relations: Every action has a reaction. I don't have to remind anyone that John Kerry was right to say we need to fight a more sensitive war on terrorism, one where we understand that actions may have consequences that negate benefits. Abu Ghraib is a perfect example. Our attempt to snuff out the insurgency by using torture to gather intelligence actually backfired in that it verified the very worst caricatures of the American occupation. We're much worse off now, in terms of winning the hearts and minds, than we would ever have been without Abu Ghraib. We have to realize, and our actions have to demonstrate, that the war on terrorism is more a war about winning hearts and minds, than it is about invading and overthrowing regimes. Update: Not that I have to drive home the point about Abu Ghraib, but this news is exactly what I'm talking about.