Monday, July 18, 2005

The Iraq Fly Paper Theory

According to the so called fly paper theory, the jidadists have diverted most of their resources to attacking US soliders in Iraq. This argues Bush and company has made America safer. It is much better for the US to have their troops fight it out with Jihadists in Iraq than to be sitting back and having terrorits attack US civilians back in the US. The latter is precisely the position the US would be if the US had not invaded Iraq.

The flypaper theory, needless to say, has always struck most as being highly dubious. However, until now there has between little direct empirical evidence to contradict the Bush
Administration’s claims.

Two recent studies hav confirmed many what many long suspected; far from attracting terrorist to the Iraq war is helping to create more in two respects. Namely, the Iraq war motivated many to join the Jihadists and second it provided these raw recruits with the training they would be unable to recieve in their own countries. Indeed, in a strange twist of fate, the situation in Iraq is such that terrorists have been able to replace the terror camps in Afghanistan with on the job training in Iraq. The local population has been welcoming enough and forthcoming enough with information such that the Jihadists have been able to establish some sort of base of operations within the country coupled with some semblance of a command structure. Indigenous forces (e.g., ex Republican guardsmen) have also provided Jihadists with invaluable training.

To say, as Bush does, that the US is safer now that thousands more Jihadists are proficient in the use of explosives strikes me, at least, as rather odd.

That said, what is truly troubling is what all of this bolds for the future. Afghanistan did not become a problem right away. It was really only after the Soviets pulled out that returning Jihadists began to cause major problems. Ironically, the US may find itself in a situation where victory in Iraq may spell greater danger for the US as Jihadists leave Iraq for greener pastures.

The best that can be said about the fly paper theory from a US point of view is that it has brought the “war on terror”, via Al Jazzera and other Arab networks, into the living rooms of those in the Arab world. This has and will continue to stimulate debate in the Arab world.

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