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Saturday, January 15, 2005

Iraq And The "War on Terror"

I don't put the quotation marks around the expression "War on Terror" just for fun. The reason I do that is that to me this expression makes little sense,- terror is just a tactic, a weapon if you will. If you face an adversary armed with a rifle it is the rifleman, not the rifle you need to fight. Even if your shot destroys the rifle, you are not done fighting the triggerpuller as he is well capable of picking up another weapon and going on fighting.

The same goes for terrorism. You are fighting those who attack you, using terror attacks as their tactic of choice. It is also important to note that due to the extremely amorphous nature of most terror groups it is important to make sure that as you fight those groups they do not manage to replenish their ranks and capabilities faster than you diminish them through fighting.

However, as the case apparently happens to be, the war in Iraq, touted as a key part of the global fight against terrorism, generates far more terrorists than the number of those destroyed or detained. And it is not me saying that,- it is, according to this Washington Post report, what a 12 January 2005 CIA report indicates.

Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank.

Iraq provides terrorists with "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills," said David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats. "There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries."
Also of note are the following NIC's findings:

According to the NIC report, Iraq has joined the list of conflicts -- including the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, and independence movements in Chechnya, Kashmir, Mindanao in the Philippines, and southern Thailand -- that have deepened solidarity among Muslims and helped spread radical Islamic ideology.

At the same time, the report says that by 2020, al Qaeda "will be superseded" by other Islamic extremist groups that will merge with local separatist movements. Most terrorism experts say this is already well underway. The NIC says this kind of ever-morphing decentralized movement is much more difficult to uncover and defeat.
So, can one win a war by generating new enemies faster than the current ones die?

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