Wednesday, July 13, 2005
EmpireNotes: Iraq and the Weakness of U.S. Hegemony
Personally, I really appreciated the guts of "The Daily Show" in commenting that this is precisely what Bush has called for: fighting them "over there" so that we don't have to fight them over here. (Do any military people find this at all disturbing? -- the fact that Bush is implicitly stating that our goal is invite/seek out terrorists ["Bring 'em on"] so that -- so that what? -- presumably so that we can kill each and every one of them, and then the "war" will be over. As if there were only a finite number of "evil-doers," and once we kill them all, the world will be "safe for democracy" again.)
That's where I'm at, right now. The only rational conclusion I can reach is that the Bush Administration wants this horrific shit to continue. Many people, from across the political spectrum, wonder why we haven't closed off Iraq's borders to prevent foreign fighters from joining the Iraqi insurgency. Come on, people; aren't you listening? Bush has said it repeatedly: we WANT them to come in to Iraq. We WANT to "fight them over there." Iraq is now a "central front" in the "war on terror," remember?
Fuck, I'm glad I never joined the military.
The Horror In London
By Eric Margolis
"Lacking any modern arms or military organization they resort to their only major weapon, bombs – the poor man’s cruise missiles.
We are horrified that anyone would attack innocent civilians packed in subway cars. But the extremists and fanatics who do so say they are exacting revenge for the 500,000 Iraqi civilians who died, (confirmed by the UN), from the ten year US-British embargo of Iraq. For the criminal destruction in 1991 of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants that cause massive cholera and typhoid. Or for the occupation of Iraq and destruction of the city of Falluja that killed tens of thousands more civilians, and, of course, for Palestine.
We saw the frightful TV footage from the London bombing but no footage at all of the destruction of an entire Afghan village just days before by the US Air Force.
I am not in any way justifying terror attacks, only putting them into context. I believe US and British military forces do not target civilians – though this has happened far too often – but in the end what they term `collateral damage’ means many dead civilians.
When we kill them in droves, some of them will strike back.
Calling on such avengers to fight fair is a waste of time. Claiming these extremists attacked because they hate our western way of life, as Bush and Blair have done, is dishonest. They attacked us because we have been attacking them.
As Tony Blair rightly said, murdering civilians on their way to work is `barbaric.’ But so is dropping bombs on Afghan or Iraqi villages, using tanks to crush Palestinian demonstrators, or the slaughter of 100,000 Chechen civilians by our ally, Russia. "
Empire Notes: Iraq and the Weakness of U.S. Hegemony
There's little new to say about last week's London terror bombing. It has proved Bush's "flypaper" theory – that if we "take the war to the terrorists" in Iraq, then "they" – whoever "they" are – won't be able to attack "us" – to be nonsense, if we needed any more proof. It was a heinous crime, like Madrid, or the Bali nightclub, or Beslan, or like either of the two U.S. assaults on Fallujah in 2004. Like the first of those Fallujah assaults, it didn't even seem designed, or likely, to accomplish anything beyond killing people.
It did give the British a taste of daily life in Iraq over the last 11 weeks. Over 1500 have been killed since then, the vast majority in attacks that targeted civilians, not soldiers in the foreign occupying forces. One Iraqi preacher, explaining the vastly different levels of global concern, said, "This is because Iraqis are like chickens and nobody cares about the killing of a chicken, but the British are the lords of this world."
Bush's openly and repeatedly avowed strategy of making Iraq a central battlefront in the "war on terror" has been stunningly successful – although making Iraq unsafe has hardly made anyone else safer. It's difficult to understand why he expects the Iraqis to be grateful for this.
. . . .
The Logic of Suicide Terrorism
It’s the occupation, not the fundamentalism
Last month, Scott McConnell caught up with Associate Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago, whose book on suicide terrorism, Dying to Win, is beginning to receive wide notice. Pape has found that the most common American perceptions about who the terrorists are and what motivates them are off by a wide margin. . . .
"TAC: If you were to break down causal factors, how much weight would you put on a cultural rejection of the West and how much weight on the presence of American troops on Muslim territory?
RP: The evidence shows that the presence of American troops is clearly the pivotal factor driving suicide terrorism.
If Islamic fundamentalism were the pivotal factor, then we should see some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world, like Iran, which has 70 million people—three times the population of Iraq and three times the population of Saudi Arabia—with some of the most active groups in suicide terrorism against the United States. However, there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Iran, and we have no evidence that there are any suicide terrorists in Iraq from Iran.
Sudan is a country of 21 million people. Its government is extremely Islamic fundamentalist. The ideology of Sudan was so congenial to Osama bin Laden that he spent three years in Sudan in the 1990s. Yet there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Sudan.
I have the first complete set of data on every al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from 1995 to early 2004, and they are not from some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world. Two thirds are from the countries where the United States has stationed heavy combat troops since 1990.
Another point in this regard is Iraq itself. Before our invasion, Iraq never had a suicide-terrorist attack in its history. Never. Since our invasion, suicide terrorism has been escalating rapidly with 20 attacks in 2003, 48 in 2004, and over 50 in just the first five months of 2005. Every year that the United States has stationed 150,000 combat troops in Iraq, suicide terrorism has doubled.
TAC: So your assessment is that there are more suicide terrorists or potential suicide terrorists today than there were in March 2003?
RP: I have collected demographic data from around the world on the 462 suicide terrorists since 1980 who completed the mission, actually killed themselves. This information tells us that most are walk-in volunteers. Very few are criminals. Few are actually longtime members of a terrorist group. For most suicide terrorists, their first experience with violence is their very own suicide-terrorist attack.
There is no evidence there were any suicide-terrorist organizations lying in wait in Iraq before our invasion. What is happening is that the suicide terrorists have been produced by the invasion.
. . . . . . . .
TAC: Has the next generation of anti-American suicide terrorists already been created? Is it too late to wind this down, even assuming your analysis is correct and we could de-occupy Iraq?
RP: Many people worry that once a large number of suicide terrorists have acted that it is impossible to wind it down. The history of the last 20 years, however, shows the opposite. Once the occupying forces withdraw from the homeland territory of the terrorists, they often stop—and often on a dime.
In Lebanon, for instance, there were 41 suicide-terrorist attacks from 1982 to 1986, and after the U.S. withdrew its forces, France withdrew its forces, and then Israel withdrew to just that six-mile buffer zone of Lebanon, they virtually ceased. They didn’t completely stop, but there was no campaign of suicide terrorism. Once Israel withdrew from the vast bulk of Lebanese territory, the suicide terrorists did not follow Israel to Tel Aviv.
This is also the pattern of the second Intifada with the Palestinians. As Israel is at least promising to withdraw from Palestinian-controlled territory (in addition to some other factors), there has been a decline of that ferocious suicide-terrorist campaign. This is just more evidence that withdrawal of military forces really does diminish the ability of the terrorist leaders to recruit more suicide terrorists.
That doesn’t mean that the existing suicide terrorists will not want to keep going. I am not saying that Osama bin Laden would turn over a new leaf and suddenly vote for George Bush. There will be a tiny number of people who are still committed to the cause, but the real issue is not whether Osama bin Laden exists. It is whether anybody listens to him. That is what needs to come to an end for Americans to be safe from suicide terrorism.
. . . . . . . .
TAC: What do you think the chances are of a weapon of mass destruction being used in an American city?
RP: I think it depends not exclusively, but heavily, on how long our combat forces remain in the Persian Gulf. The central motive for anti-American terrorism, suicide terrorism, and catastrophic terrorism is response to foreign occupation, the presence of our troops. The longer our forces stay on the ground in the Arabian Peninsula, the greater the risk of the next 9/11, whether that is a suicide attack, a nuclear attack, or a biological attack. "
Copyright © 2005 The American Conservative