|Alec asks: "Why would so many Al Qaedas and surrounding fundamentalist trash -- who, even if not officially on the the AQ payroll, are certainly enemies -- be fighting for their lives in Iraq if a stable, democratic future didn't threaten them severely?" He adds: "I do not mean in any way to undermine troop casualties, but 1,350 deceased soldiers doesn't come close to having the impact that one bomb going off in a US mall would have, killing 20. Can you imagine the hysteria that would cause, the damage to our economy? There must be a reason Al Qaeda and the terrorists are so concerned about Iraq to see fit to spend their resources on trying to discourage an American presence (or influence) in that region."|
Alec, the answer is apparent. There are Al Qaeda and fundamentalist forces fighting in Iraq---I have not denied that. And those forces increased in their number in Iraq because of the US invasion, because such forces wish to target Americans wherever they are. That's what many have dubbed the "magnet theory"---that US presence would simply attract the fundamentalists like, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor, moths to a flame. But Al Qaeda was not a genuine presence in Iraq prior to the US invasion. And it is still not the dominant insurgency in Iraq, which is most likely Ba'athist in nature, since it is their central concern to fight the establishment of a majoritarian Shi'ite government. That's a conflict that is quite apart from the US war with Al Qaeda.
In any event, why should the US have targeted the relatively secular Iraq, with its lethal Sunni-Shi'ite-Kurdish inter-squabbles, as a way of testing this "magnet" theory? It could just as well have put 150,000 troops into one of the fundamentalist heartlands of Al Qaeda: right in Afghanistan. Instead, troop strength was diluted as the US prepared for an Iraq war that was on the radar from the beginning. Instead, too much responsibility was put in the hands of Afghan warlords who owe allegiance to no one but themselves. Instead, Bin Laden is still at large.
Now, it would be nice if the "magnet" theory were literally true: That Iraq was suddenly attracting all this "fundamentalist trash," and that other areas were being spared. But other areas are not being spared. And if an Al Qaeda attack comes to US soil, as almost every intelligence agency predicts, what will this "magnet" theory have proved? We can't even say that the "magnet" strategy would have delayed an Al Qaeda attack on domestic soil---because Al Qaeda is known to take its time between attacks, and most of their attacks have a certain well-planned, "spectacular" quality about them.
Now, I agree with you: a bomb going off in the US would have a much more intense effect than the killing of Americans abroad. (And I can't imagine what another attack might do to the state of civil liberties at home.) My central fear is not a bomb going off in a US mall. It's a coordinated attack on the New York City subway system. They could take out tens of thousands of people if they simply strap themselves up with dynamite and get onto subways in the outer boroughs, during rush hour, detonating themselves as trains enter tunnels or Manhattan destinations like Times Square, Penn Station, Columbus Circle, Rockefeller Center, etc. And think of the added effect if some of these characters are carrying chemical or biological agents with them.
Precisely why I believe that Al Qaeda, the agency responsible for the 9/11 attack should be targeted, marginalized, and obliterated. This is a nonstate criminal fundamentalist insurgency with global reach that needs to be attacked in ways that upset its financial networks, expose its terrorist cells, destroy its terrorist camps and root out its state-sponsored supporters everywhere (including especially the supporters that can be found among US "allies" in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia).
Speaking of the "propaganda war," btw: Muslim groups were actually objecting to the fact that the hot television series, "24," is featuring a domestic Islamic terrorist cell as part of its fourth season of storytelling. What nonsense. As co-creator of the show, Joel Surnow, has explained: Enough is enough:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, meanwhile, has already protested this season's portrayal of Muslims. Though Mr. Surnow says that later episodes will include positive Muslim characters, he makes no apologies for focusing on the bad guys (and one very bad woman, played by the Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, of "The House of Sand and Fog"). He regrets that he "pulled punches" a couple of seasons back by using generic terrorists of murky provenance with indefinable accents. "This year we deal with it," he says. "This is what we fear - Islamic terrorism. This is what we are fighting."
Bravo, Joel Surnow!
As a tangential point: If I were such an "antiwar" pacifist, I can't imagine why my favorite TV show running for the 4th straight season would remain this superb series. I just finished watching the first four hours broadcast over two days, Sunday and Monday of this week, and I'm hooked all over again. :)