Here’s an interesting discussion of the reaction to the partially leaked report of the NIA, widely quoted in the media as saying the Iraqi War has fueled the creation of more terrorists.
It seemsto me to be a tautology that, with an ideology such as Islamist totalitartianism, attempts to fight back would not be expected to damp down terrorism, especially at first. The important fact is that the alternative–failing to fight back–doesn’t discourage terrorism, either; it encouraged it.
If one considers each alternative, the realization is that neither works particularly well in achieving that goal in the short run. And right now, even though five long years have passed since 9/11, that only represents the short run in the war against Islamist totalitarianism, which is the current source of most terrorism today.
In fact, this is a war we’ve been fighting at least since 1979, the year of the Iranian revolution, whether we’ve acknowledged it or not. And the number of terrorists has continued to be fueled. It was fueled by Carter’s pallid reaction to the hostage crisis. It was fueled by appeasing the terrorist Arafat. It was fueled by the 80s and Reagan’s inaction. It was fueled by the 90s and Clinton’s inaction. It was fueled by the sight of the burning WTC towers. It was fueled by the cartoons of Mohammed. It was fueled by–well, you get the idea.
Now of course it turns out that the leaked report didn’t really say exactly what the press purported:
Here’s the relevant bit:
The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.
Sounds pretty logical to me. Exactly what might be expected. In the short run, terrorists are energized by conflict and the chance to fight the Great Satan. In the long run, if we are victorious, they shouud be discouraged. At least, we think so.
Of course, one could also say that defeat breeds resentment, and that portions of the Islamic world have been brooding about revenge for the ignominy of defeat since their debacle at the Gates of Vienna. Or was it the Battle of Lepanto? Then again, we have the fall of the Ottomon Empire; I seem to recall Osama mentioned that in his post-9/11 vindication message.
The truth seems to be that Islamic totalitarian rage is extraordinarily versatile in its ability to find alternative fuels to stoke its fire.