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Iraq and terror

Yesterday, I heard a guy on the radio saying that there is more terrorism in Iraq now than when we invaded. In fact, he might have gone so far as to say that there "was no terrorism" in Iraq under Saddam.

It struck me as a common thread among some anti-war factions, and it got me thinking.

There was plenty of terrorism under Saddam, but it was of an entirely different nature.

Under Saddam, terrorism was very tightly controlled by the government. It was parceled out in measured doses to keep the populace under control. Random arrests and disappearances, the rape rooms, the maimings, the attempts at genocide -- all were calculated to keep the general Iraqi public cowed, too afraid to speak out -- let alone rise up against Saddam.

More conventional terrorism was also controlled, too -- limited to training camps, funding, and other forms of support. But this was kept carefully firewalled from the public, and immediately exported. Saddam didn't train terrorists to wreak their havoc in Iraq, but other places; he didn't fund suicide bombers in his own borders; he didn't let his people know that there were extensive terrorist training camps around the country. Totalitarian regimes simply don't have problems with terrorism. Such things tend to be the complications of more enlightened states.

What happened when we toppled Saddam was that the means of control and exporting of terrorism were destroyed, and the forces he had reined in were set loose. They no longer had to depend on Saddam's largesse, nor fear his wrath. Further, the enemy they had psyched themselves to fight -- the West -- was there, among them, and available for attack. To take on the warriors of the West fed into their own self-image as mighty, noble warriors, and the idea of traveling hundreds, thousands of miles to fight the great enemy when they were just across town lost its appeal.

It's eminently debatable how things are going in Iraq. Personally, I think it's going all right. The recent outburst threatened to degenerate into outright chaos and anarchy, with factions more intereated in slaughter than conquest, but it was averted and ultimately fizzled -- and the leaders of the various factions in the nascent Iraqi government were largely responsible for that event. (This despite the cheerleading of several elements of the anti-war left and the media to hype the "civil war" that would prove their point -- but at the cost of an ungodly butcher's bill. Look how fast the 1300 body count myth fell apart.)

In the long run, I think what is happening to Iraq will ultimately prove beneficial to the Iraqi people -- and the world in general. The pre-existing status quo was obscene -- it tolerated a certain acceptable level of terrorism, carnage, mayhem, and slaughter in the name of "stability." As long as the killings didn't happen TOO frequently, and didn't claim TOO many lives at once, the world was fine with the "low-intensity conflict."

The removal of Saddam could be an abject lesson for others: it is NOT acceptable, and actions WILL be taken. Terrorism must be fought, not harnessed. And those who seek to hold the reins on it WILL be brought to account.

That appears to be the message being sent, and Libya heard it loud and clear. Syria also caught a little of it, and is scrambling to find a new accomodation with that reality. Iran heard it as a threat, and is looking to get its hands on the biggest gun it can find (nuclear weapons) to threaten back with.

I've never really felt comfortable with "The Iraq War" as a title. It's a campaign in a larger conflict. During World War II, we had "the war in Europe" and "the war in the Pacific," with little side-adventures in Africa and the Atlantic. Hell, there were even battles in Alaska and the Indian Ocean, to name just a couple of other fronts. But they were all part of the overall battle -- the democracies (and the Soviet Union, as an ally of convenience at the time) versus the totalitarian states. The Allies versus the Axis.

Iraq is merely a part of that bigger picture. It is essential that we win here, and by "win" I mean make sure Iraq has a government and a largely free people. That is the biggest guarantee that Iraq will never again be a factory for terrorism, as it was under Saddam.

And it is even more essential that the winning (or, god forbid, the losing) of a single battle does not herald the end of the fight.


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Comments (18)

When people say we caused t... (Below threshold)

When people say we caused the country to fall into chaos, do they realize Saddam wasn't going to live forever?

Iraq would have to face this moment eventually. At least will the US there when it happened, it could provide some level of cohesiveness.

Well, we could call it what... (Below threshold)

Well, we could call it what it is:


Actually, the War on Terror... (Below threshold)

Actually, the War on Terror would be better dubbed WWIV. The Cold War is what I would consider WWIII. Although the US and the USSR never fought directly, there were plenty of proxy wars.

- MikeB

Has anyone come up with a r... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Has anyone come up with a really good definition of terrorism that doesn't rely on who the actors are. That is, a definition that's not based on who's doing the nasty stuff.

The over the edge left groups like to claim the U.S. invasion of Iraq was terrorism, so a good definition is important.

As for which world war we are in I suggest dropping the Roman numerals as that system gets confusing when we get into bigger numbers. I hate to think of some school kid in the 22nd century trying to figure out what WWCXIV means. Better to just write WW114 :)

Well, the basic definition ... (Below threshold)

Well, the basic definition of terrorism is that it's a technique for getting people to do what you want through fear.

Of course, by that definition policemen are terrorists, since they make you behave through the fear of being sent to jail, and the tax collectors are terrorists too, etc.

I prefer to think of them as the kind of people who specifically set out to kill "protected" people, especially women, children and other helpless ones, in order to make their point. If you consider that civilians aren't protected when they're actively helping your enemy (e.g. by working in an arms factory), but are if they are minding their own business, then I think it works. People who try to avoid killing innocents (even if they are not 100% effective at it) don't fit that profile, but those who actively target innocents do.

So by that definition, if those invading Iraq were targetting specifically military objectives, I don't think I would consider that terrorism. If they're shooting someone's granny as an example for others, then that would count. Collective punishment is a form of terrorism, by my definition.

Perhaps the term "terrorism" is wrong for what it has become today. I can't think of a better term though.

Jay's attempt to define ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay's attempt to define the Iraqi war as merely part of the larger picture if true, is costing the US taxpayer a enormous disproportionate burden, particularly as the $8.2 trillion national debt legal debt ceiling is now being tested. Think how American resources both monetary and human could have been used in the other parts of this war on terrorism, such as the less polemical war in Afghanistan or as an inducement to Pakistan, if we had stayed the course on the trail of Bin Laden on the Afghan-Pakistani border instead (hey it is not too late). We would not then be posing the question of "god forbid, the losing of Iraq" but would be ( admitedly conjecture) pressuring Saddam or bribing him in a more extreme form than we treat, other authoritarian leaders in that region, such as Pervez Musharraf.

True - Saddamn wouldn't hav... (Below threshold)

True - Saddamn wouldn't have lived forever. But he was grooming his sons (who seemed to have taken depravity to levels beyond the Marquis de Sade's wildest wet dreams) as his replacement.

After all, doesn't every dad want his kids to take over the family business? New owners, same old management style - with sprinkles on top.

So, do you think the Iraqis would have liked the last 20 years of Saddam's rule played over again times two? I don't think so, for some strange reason...


Woulda, coulda, shoulda doe... (Below threshold)

Woulda, coulda, shoulda doesn't get us far except deeper into quicksand, SC.

Dishonest arguements (like there was no terrorism in Iraq before we invaded), name calling, blame statements also mire us from any attempt at meaningful dialogue.

Or you could say that terro... (Below threshold)

Or you could say that terrorism under Saddam was more a Socialist Terrorism...tight government control and (as you say) "parceled out in measured doses to keep the populace under control."

At least now we have a more free market terrorism going on in Iraq, so you know, at least they've got that going for them...

The word terrorism was orig... (Below threshold)

The word terrorism was origionally coined to describe how the French revolution was controlling the country. It was the description of how those in power consolidated and expanded their power by terrorizing the citizenry. It is the more modern usage that discounts state terrorism.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda doe... (Below threshold)

Woulda, coulda, shoulda doesn't get us far except deeper into quicksand, SC.
Dishonest arguements (like there was no terrorism in Iraq before we invaded), name calling, blame statements also mire us from any attempt at meaningful dialogue.
Posted by: Epador at March 7, 2006 11:31 AM


Here's some meaningful dialogue: if the war is such a "noble" cause, as the president likes to say, when are his twins Jenna and Barbara going to Iraq? In fact, let's reinstate the draft and send all the children of you flag-waving "patriotic" Americans.

An "I support our troops" sticker on your car just doesn't cut it.

Here's some meanin... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Here's some meaningful dialogue: if the war is such a "noble" cause, as the president likes to say, when are his twins Jenna and Barbara going to Iraq? In fact, let's reinstate the draft and send all the children of you flag-waving "patriotic" Americans.

Your argument seems similar to one Michael Moore has used. As with most of Moore's arguments, they don't stand up to analysis. First, no one can be drafted in this country until they are at least 18 years old. At that point, a person can make up their own mind as to how they feel about war and if they want to join or not. Arguing for reinstating the draft in the same paragraph as asking when the president's daughters are going to Iraq is funny as the law establishing the military draft never allows inscription of females. Furthermore, the current draft uses a lottery system to establish the order of inscription. Assuming the order could be set politically, it would be the people in power that would be drafting the anti-war people and their kids, not the other way around.

Bennito, It's not that they... (Below threshold)

Bennito, It's not that they wouldn't mind getting drafted per se, it's just that some guy might see their pee pee!

so.... bryand, bennito, sho... (Below threshold)

so.... bryand, bennito, should Chelsea be over in Bosnia with a baby blue pk helmet on?

#<a href="http://w... (Below threshold)
one eye buck tooth [X^B:


http://www.globalresearch.ca/ index.php?context=viewArticle&code=HAA20060306&articleId=2067
In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford signed a directive that granted Iran the opportunity to purchase U.S. built reprocessing equipment and facilities designed to extract plutonium from nuclear reactor fuel.

When Gerald Ford assumed the Presidency in August 1974, the current Vice President of the United States, Richard B Cheney served on the transition team and later as Deputy Assistant to the President. In November 1975, he was named Assistant to the President and White House Chief of Staff, a position he held throughout the remainder of the Ford Administration.[1]

In August 1974, the current Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld served as Chairman of the transition to the Presidency of Gerald R. Ford. He then became Chief of Staff of the White House and a member of the President's Cabinet (1974-1975)[2] and was the Ford Administration's Secretary of Defense from 1975-1977.

The current President of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz served in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Gerald Ford.[3] Wolfowitz is considered as a prominent architect of the Bush Doctrine, which has come to be identified with a policy that permits pre-emptive war against potential aggressors before they are capable of mounting attacks against the United States.

According to Washington Post Staff Writer Dafna Linzer, "Ford's team endorsed Iranian plans to build a massive nuclear energy industry, but also worked hard to complete a multibillion-dollar deal that would have given Tehran control of large quantities of plutonium and enriched uranium - the two pathways to a nuclear bomb. Either can be shaped into the core of a nuclear warhead, and obtaining one or the other is generally considered the most significant obstacle to would-be weopons builders."[4]

What the current Bush Administration is asserting, particularly through its news agency Fox News, is that it needs to prevent Iran from achieving the exact same nuclear capabilities that President Ford and his key appointees, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz were encouraging Iran to accomplish 30 years ago. Iran, a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, is guaranteed the right to develop peaceful nuclear power programs - regardless of whether the United States approves or disapproves the politics or political leadership of that country; a point that Iran has repeated over and over again. For 30 years, Iran has proclaimed that it needs nuclear power since its oil and gas supplies are limited, just like the United States, and therefore has the legal right to produce and operate nuclear power plants. Thirty years ago, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld agreed. Today, Cheney and Rumsfeld appear to be crawling out of their skins with uncontrollable militarized lust for control of Iranian oil fields via a U.S. occupied, Iran.
Sheet Man eets da Nuke-lear Trojan thang
ya durn fools stop reedin historie oar Whut?

damm bumps onna log

Comment by one eye buck tooth [X^B -- March 7, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

Buck, that's very enlighten... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Buck, that's very enlightening. But funny how your timeline ends before 1978 -- when the Shah of Iran, a long-time loyal US ally (to whom we also sold F-14s to, the most advanced naval fighters at the time, as well as Phoenix missiles, the longest-range air-to-air missiles in the world -- let's get it all on the table) was overthrown by the radicals who still rule Iran to this day. And good old President Carter, who judged that Khomeini was a "man of God," let the whole thing happen.


wow, one eye buck tooth, ta... (Below threshold)

wow, one eye buck tooth, talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees.

That you are talking about Iran when you don't know its history and the overthrow of the Shah and how the US was involved is... breathtaking.

Your right Jay about the Sh... (Below threshold)

Your right Jay about the Shah and how he was loyal to American what you dont mention was that he was an evil dictator who had no support from his people, yet the US continued to support him, a bit like saddam, seems dictators are fine as long as they toe the US line






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