Jihad U
July 2, 2005 8:03 AM   Subscribe

President Bush pledged in 2003 that "A free Iraq will not be a training ground for terrorists... A free Iraq will not destabilize the Middle East." This past January, the CIA's National Intelligence Council observed that Iraq had become "a training ground, a recruitment ground" for jihadists. Now the senior Marine commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. James Conway -- in a statement that has not yet been picked up by the media -- acknowledges that the war is furnishing a new "a training ground" for foreign fighters trained in urban warfare who will export terror all over the world, saying, "But there's not much we can do about it at this point in time."
posted by digaman (19 comments total)

posted by quonsar at 8:25 AM on July 2, 2005

I wonder why those who declared the mission in Iraq as vital to our national security, don't clamor for a troop and resource increase?

Maybe because they support the W rather than the mission?

I think so.
posted by wrapper at 8:32 AM on July 2, 2005

For those opposed to the Iraq war and appalled by the moralistic blackmail practiced by the right, it has never been easy to separate legitimate mourning and reflection on the significance of 9/11 from hysteria and unreflective anger. (Indeed, one of the sadder consequences of George W. Bush's divisive war has been the way it has scattered what could have been a shared American grief.) The "9/11 changed everything" line became a tool used by the right; it overstated the significance of what was not, historically speaking, an epochal event, and implicitly laid the groundwork for the Iraq war.

In fact, soon after the trauma of 9/11 faded it became clear that the demands for a permanent change in American manners and mores were naive at best and overbearing at worst. Moralistic pronouncements about what we should think or watch are tiresome, would result in terrible sitcoms and in any case are doomed to be defeated by what Daniel Bell called "the cultural contradictions of capitalism." No one would really expect, or want, American culture to suddenly abandon irony, or even its obsession with shark attacks, weird real people conniving against each other on prime time and addictive murder cases. What's the use of defeating a global enemy if as a result you can't watch "America's Next Top Model"?

Still, one need not be a Victorian, or Marxist, moralist to find some of those cultural contradictions pretty appalling -- and getting worse all the time.

We are at war. Dozens of Americans are dying every month, and hundreds if not thousands of Iraqis, and there is no end in sight. It is a situation that calls for seriousness, analysis and reflection -- in a word, for respect.

So one might expect that the mass media -- and in particular, those media outlets that were the most aggressive in calling for war -- would treat the war with at least a modicum of respect, and cover it seriously.

But if one expected that, one would be colossally wrong. Welcome to Fox's America, land of dissociation, where war isn't real but must be supported at all costs.

Click War? What war? Then click on Back and then click here. Voila.
posted by y2karl at 8:39 AM on July 2, 2005

Oops. wrong order: here then War? etc.
posted by y2karl at 8:41 AM on July 2, 2005

1. A free Iraq does not train terrorists.
2. Iraq is presently training terrorists.
3. Therefore, Iraq is presently not free.
posted by catachresoid at 8:49 AM on July 2, 2005

the war is furnishing a new "a training ground" for foreign fighters trained in urban warfare who will export terror all over the world

Why is this line being pushed?

From USA Today
Suspected foreign fighters account for less than 2% of the 5,700 captives being held as security threats in Iraq, a strong indication that Iraqis are largely responsible for the stubborn insurgency.
I'm sure the US forces try to record nationality information on those killed or captured.

Why don't they release the information. Is it too embarassing to their fly paper theory?

Maybe some foreign experts at terrorism have gone to Iraq to help the training efforts but the vast majority of those being schooled are Iraqis who will stay in Iraq to fight their fight.

In the worst case. Say some terror backed faction eventually wins and becomes the government. Only then will Iraq be in a position to export terrorism.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 8:49 AM on July 2, 2005

That's a point worthy of more investigation, MSN. Thanks for making it.
posted by digaman at 8:54 AM on July 2, 2005

MSN: that number seems so low! But now that I think about it, I can't remember where I might have heard that most attacks were by foreign fighters. All I can remember is people saying it as though it were common knowledge.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:02 AM on July 2, 2005

The USA Today story goes on to say:
Since last August, coalition forces have detained 17,700 people in Iraq who were considered to be enemy fighters... Most of those detainees were freed after a review board found they didn't pose significant threats. About 5,700 remain in custody...
So about 12,000 of those rounded up - that's 67% of the total, or 2 out of 3 - were released when their cases were more carefully examined. In other words, any given person rounded up as an "security threats" probably was not one.

It's not hard to imagine that more careful examination of individual cases (if any is planned) might see a similar reduction in the number of detained "security threats." If that were to happen, then the percentage of detained "foreign fighters" could easily either rise dramatically or fall off all the way to zero.

Even if further revision doen't happen, it's not a guarantee that the military has been particularly accurate about discerning security-threat from non-security-threat. Certainly the results of the first pass aren't very inspiring. I'm sure it's a huge and terribly difficult task, but that doesn't change the figures.

I realize that this may well be the very best data available on the makeup of the insurgency. But that doesn't mean that it's actually useful, high-quality data in absolute terms. I'm afraid the most sensible conclusion to draw is: No one knows what the Hell is going on over there.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:46 AM on July 2, 2005

I love these bluebird of happiness posts.
posted by wheelieman at 9:59 AM on July 2, 2005

sonofsamiam writes "I can't remember where I might have heard that most attacks were by foreign fighters. All I can remember is people saying it as though it were common knowledge."

It's a bit like the canard of Saddam's involvement in 9/11, isn't it?
posted by clevershark at 10:21 AM on July 2, 2005

" I love these bluebird of happiness posts."

Yeah, war sucks, lets forget about it.
posted by stbalbach at 10:37 AM on July 2, 2005

We know there are 250,000+ foreigners gaining experience in Iraq right now.
posted by srboisvert at 2:45 PM on July 2, 2005

Yeah, war sucks, lets forget about it.

No, let's sit in our basement behind keyboards and talk about it. Accomplishes much more.
posted by justgary at 2:48 PM on July 2, 2005

I'm a journalist and get a lot out of "talking" at my computer, justgary. One of my articles for Wired ended up launching a new training program for anesthesiologists in Iraq. Doesn't get much more real than that.
posted by digaman at 6:02 PM on July 2, 2005

Iraq is not yet free.
posted by caddis at 7:37 PM on July 2, 2005

But it is becoming less expensive by the day.
posted by wakko at 9:32 PM on July 2, 2005

that's very cool, digaman
posted by five fresh fish at 12:24 AM on July 3, 2005

Justgary needs to take his own advice and head on down to the recruiter's office.
posted by nofundy at 12:01 PM on July 3, 2005

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