Saturday, June 02, 2007

Iraqi Exports

The recent fighting between the Lebanese army and armed insurgents who had been trained and fought in Iraq demonstrates that Iraq is indeed exporting terrorists, exactly as predicted by last year's National Intelligence Estimate.

So what to do?

The easiest way for America to stop the violence in Iraq, and so stop the breeding of new terrorists, is for us to stop fighting.

That's right. We should give up and go home.

Without an enemy to fight, the insurgents will have no reason to make more bombs and no reason to train new fighters. And how will they recruit new fighters if there is no enemy to fight? No new terrorists means that there will be no terrorists to export. Problem solved.

But could Iraq then become another pre-9/11 Afghanistan, controlled by anti-American terrorists who use the country as a base of operations? Possible, but not likely.

Exactly who we're fighting in Iraq is not always clear, but the insurgents attacking U.S. troops seem to belong to a number of different groups that want the United States out of Iraq in particular and the middle east in general. One of those groups is Al Qaeda, but that doesn't mean that all insurgents are Al Qaeda. There are other groups just as opposed to the U.S. presence in Iraq who are also just as opposed to Al Qaeda, and would probably be working to oust Al Qaeda from Iraq if they didn't hate the U.S. even more.

So take the U.S. forces out of the picture, and what happens? Conventional "wisdom" (brought to us by the same people who have been wrong about everything in Iraq) is that, in the absence of the American military, the insurgents will begin using Iraq and a base for terrorism (which they are already doing). But it is also just as likely that, without a common enemy to fight, the differing goals of foreign (Al Qaeda/international) insurgents and native (nationalist) insurgents would rise to the surface, and the native insurgents would begin trying to drive the foreigners from their country.

Fanaticism is redoubling your efforts when you've forgotten your goal and, by that measure, the Bush administration is fanatical. If the goal is to defend the United States against global terrorism, then continuing military efforts in Iraq is exactly the wrong thing to do. By invading a middle eastern country, we gave Al Qaeda the kind of war it wanted. We created a jihad for them, because they are now defending a Muslim country against infidels. And we gave them a war they can win, because they can use guerrilla tactics against a conventional army. By continuing to fight in Iraq, we are strengthening Al Qaeda, not weakening it.

When continuing to fight simply makes things worse, you finally have to ask if the solution is not more troops but fewer troops. The real question is not "how can we win in Iraq" but "how can we win the war on global terror," and to the second question the answer is to begin withdrawing American forces from Iraq.

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