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9/11 musings: what if GWB were right...

... albeit for the wrong reasons?

As he invaded Iraq, Our Beloved President repeatedly said "We're going to fight them there so we don't have to fight them here." This never made much sense to me, first because at the time, the Islamist terrorists weren't in Iraq (they were in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc.) and second because we're not fighting a monolithic army, we're fighting a gazillion little semi-autonomous terrorist cells. Fighting some of them in Iraq or Afghanistan in no way prevents the others from traveling to the U.S., Great Britain, Spain, etc. to blow things up. But, as a caller to a radio program pointed out yesterday, there have been no further (successful) terrorist attacks within the U.S. since 9/11; the caller credited this to GWB's bold and decisive action. I think there's another reason:

We gave them an easier target.

Suppose you're an Islamist terrorist whose life dream is to kill Americans. Your superior gives you two choices.

Option 1: travel to the U.S. on a fake passport, go into deep cover for a few years, take flying lessons, buy an airline ticket, hijack an airplane, fly it into a skyscraper, and die gloriously.

Option 2: take potshots at U.S. soldiers from your front porch as they march or ride down the main street of your home town in Afghanistan or Iraq, and maybe live to take more potshots another day.

Obviously, Option 2 is a whole lot simpler, cheaper, and easier. Furthermore, if you're the rare sort of terrorist who has qualms about killing innocent civilians, it even has the advantage that you're only killing the guilty, i.e. the U.S. military who have occupied your country, overthrown your government by force, and installed their own puppet government. (BTW, for this analysis it doesn't matter whether those governments are puppets, only whether the terrorists think of them as puppets, which I'm sure they do.)

If this reasoning is correct, then as the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is drawn down, the odds of a terrorist attack on the U.S. itself will inevitably increase... unless, that is, we've used the past few years to reduce the anti-American hatred that inspired the terrorists in the first place. Which of course we haven't: between our bombing raids on civilian areas and our indefinite detention and torture of possibly-innocent people, there are far more people around the world today than on 9/10/2001 who passionately hate the United States and would be willing to give their lives to hurt us.

So Dubya really has gotten us stuck to the tar baby: we can't bring our sacrificial lambs brave soldiers home, or our civilians will suffer. Gee, thanks.


What a cheerful thought...

Of course, we might have tried going after the terrorists where they really were instead of being distracted in Iraq.
Or cooperated with our long term allies more so we'd get better odds of shared warnings, cooperation with other nation's police forces, etc...

I guess neither of those options lend themselves to fattening the wallets of defense and security companies though.