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Sunday, July 10, 2005 

Terrorist Flypaper

One of the mainstays of Bush's rationale for the war in Iraq is the idea that we're "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here." Hence, the title of this post--Bush has taken a sovereign nation and turned it into a roach motel for Islamic extremists. At least, that was the plan.

However, as last week's bombings in London prove, this strategy is not based in reality (like so many of Bush's other policies). Sure, it's a lot easier to kill Americans in Iraq--now that there are a couple hundred thousand of us there, no border security, no police protection and a vast supply of bomb making materials courtesy of the last regime--and a lot of "foreign fighters" are taking the president up on his invitation to "bring it on."

But if you're a psychopath with the right combination of resources and inclination, it's still quite a simple matter to hit the infidels where they live. This is as true of New York today as it is of London. Bush would have us believe the Iraq war has made us safer. The truth is we are just as vulnerable as we ever were. All the airport security you can dream up will not keep a guy with a suitcase off the subway.

The fact that we have not experienced an attack in the US since 9/11 is the source of much Republican grandstanding, and indeed the likelihood of a repeat of that tragedy is low given the security measures now in place for air travel. But what of our ports? What about the local mall? How hard would it be for a guy to park a van loaded with 500 gallons of gasoline and a detonator in a crowded area, and walk away?
The fact that something like this hasn't happened yet has no bearing on whether it will happen.

The positioning of Iraq as "the central front in the war on terror" has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But Bush is deluding himself and his followers if he thinks we will overcome terrorism by fighting fire with fire. Anyone who wonders if the terrorist flypaper of Iraq will keep them safe need only look to London for an answer.

Update 7/11: From Juan Cole's article today on Salon...

"Conservative commentators argue that Iraq is a "fly trap" for Muslim terrorists. It makes much more sense to think of it as bin Laden's fly trap for Western troops. "

 posted by ukiyo1  # 11:11 PM  
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