Updated: 5/16/2006; 3:27:07 PM.

Current events
Post-9-11 events and analyses

daily link  Sunday, July 17, 2005

Trudy Rubin, Columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer: Image excerpts from "Willful Blindness: The Bush Administration and Iraq."   2:36:32 AM  permalink  

The Logic of Suicide Terrorism:It's the occupation, not the fundamentalism: Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win, The Logic of Suicide Terrorism:  "Over the past two years, I have collected the first complete database of every suicide-terrorist attack around the world from 1980 to early 2004. .. This wealth of information creates a new picture about what is motivating suicide terrorism. Islamic fundamentalism is not as closely associated with suicide terrorism as many people think. The world leader in suicide terrorism is a group that you may not be familiar with: the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.  This is a Marxist group, a completely secular group .. They invented the famous suicide vest for their suicide assassination of Rajiv Ghandi in May 1991. The Palestinians got the idea of the suicide vest from the Tamil Tigers. ..

The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent of all the incidents—has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw. ..

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. [From 2003-5,] every year that the United States has stationed 150,000 combat troops in Iraq, suicide terrorism has doubled. ..

Al-Qaeda appears to have made a deliberate decision not to attack the United States in the short term. We know this not only from the pattern of their attacks but because we have an actual al-Qaeda planning document found by Norwegian intelligence. The document says that al-Qaeda should not try to attack the continent of the United States in the short term but instead should focus its energies on hitting America’s allies in order to try to split the coalition. What the document then goes on to do is analyze whether they should hit Britain, Poland, or Spain. It concludes that they should hit Spain just before the March 2004 elections because, and I am quoting almost verbatim: Spain could not withstand two, maximum three, blows before withdrawing from the coalition, and then others would fall like dominoes.

That is exactly what happened. Six months after the document was produced, al-Qaeda attacked Spain in Madrid. That caused Spain to withdraw from the coalition. Others have followed. So al-Qaeda certainly has demonstrated the capacity to attack and in fact they have done over 15 suicide-terrorist attacks since 2002, more than all the years before 9/11 combined. Al-Qaeda is not weaker now. Al-Qaeda is stronger. ..

In the 1970s and the 1980s, the United States secured its interest in oil without stationing a single combat soldier on the Arabian Peninsula. Instead, we formed an alliance with Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which we can now do again. We relied on numerous aircraft carriers off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and naval air power now is more effective not less. We also built numerous military bases so that we could move large numbers of ground forces to the region quickly if a crisis emerged. .. That strategy called “offshore balancing,” worked splendidly against Saddam Hussein in 1990 and is again our best strategy to secure our interest in oil while preventing the rise of more suicide terrorists.  ..

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. .. That doesn’t mean that the existing suicide terrorists will not want to keep going. .. 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. "

  2:31:06 AM  permalink  

A Reality Check from Iraq: "Jonathan Morgenstein was a Marine Corps civil affairs officer in Ramadi, Iraq, and received a master's degree in international policy from Stanford University:

As an Iraq War veteran, I disagree with how President Bush has assessed the war and how we should be conducting it. The president has mischaracterized the debate as a simplistic black and white challenge: "Is the sacrifice worth it?" But this mischaracterization clouds the debate and avoids two essential questions: What are the real conditions on the ground? And what must be done to win this war?

Unfortunately, the president continues to obscure the truth of the current conditions in Iraq. My personal experiences in Iraq confirm statements made by numerous officers there, including General John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command – that the insurgency shows no signs of weakening, and its numbers continue to grow. The Bush administration must first recognize this serious problem in order to rectify it. Denial is not the path to success.

As a Marine Corps civil affairs officer serving for seven months in Ramadi, a hotbed of the Iraqi insurgency, my job was to cultivate economic, governmental and civil society development. .. The gap between President Bush's rhetoric and the reality that I saw on the ground is enormous. ,,

Iraqi troops will not be able to provide security for a long time, despite President Bush's assertions. President Bush has argued that the Iraqi Security Forces will soon be capable of providing security for Iraq. However, his assertion that "Iraq has more than 160,000 security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions," is misleading. President Bush's 160,000 includes Iraqi forces that: 1) have no uniforms or weapons; 2) don't show up for work regularly; 3) have no more than three weeks of training; and 4) are actually working for or with the insurgents.

Most Americans in Iraq have had personal experience with one or more of these problems. In fact, one of my unit's convoys was attacked with machine gun fire from an Iraqi police station. One Iraqi National Guard colonel told me personally that he works well with the insurgents. ..

My experiences in Ramadi tell me that we need to find ways to dramatically increase the boots on the ground—whether American or troops from other countries—to increase security. Without basic law and order, Iraq will see no progress. Nevertheless, President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have consistently resisted calls for increasing troop levels. In his speech President Bush said that "our commanders tell [him] they have the number of troops they need." Virtually every Marine and soldier I met in Iraq complained that more troops were needed to win.  Until President Bush speaks candidly regarding Iraq and admits we have made mistakes, we cannot solve the problem"

  2:11:31 AM  permalink  

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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 3:27:07 PM.