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A Promise Kept

"I'm a uniter, not a divider." -- George W. Bush

* * * * *

Q: What about Arabs coming in from other countries?

A: Well, it seems to me -- and the weight of evidence indicates -- that Arab Islamists have fully joined the Iraqi resistance in Iraq ... Iraqi is gradually but steadily replacing Afghanistan and Bosnia as a magnet for many Jihadi recruits to confront the forces of the so-called "unbelief". And it seems to me that anti-American forces must now feel that US forces are very vulnerable in Iraq and could be bogged down in a prolonged guerilla war. If this particular resistance continues I feel you're going to have many more Jihadi fighters joining the Jihad in Iraq against the American forces.

Q: So the US occupation is, in a negative way, uniting the forces that normally wouldn't have anything to do with one another.

A: Absolutely.

-- NPR Interview with Fawaz Gerges,
a Middle East and international affairs professor
at Sarah Lawrence College

Posted on September 04, 2003 to Politics


Is this really a bad thing? So all the terrorists head to Iraq and take on our well trained, well equipped soldiers in a foreign country instead of targeting civilians in the U.S.

Maybe Bush's "Bring em on" gaffe wasn't such a gaffe after all.

Posted by: Duane on September 4, 2003 12:03 PM

Amen, bro. Consolidate them and kill them all in one convenient location. That's not very intellectual, granted, but war is more about what's practical and tactically sound. We (the U.S. military, of which I am not a part) want to kill terrorists. They're coming to us now (in Iraq). What's not to like about that?

And a brief reminder: We've only lost, what, 300 troops or so? We're winning in video-game-like style, with all the cheats enabled.

Posted by: thohan on September 4, 2003 12:14 PM

addendum: On the other hand, Fawaz Gerges is from the respected Sarah Lawrence College. It's obvious to me NPR does not have to look far and deep for people with this slant on the war.

This is akin to having your movie receive rave reviews from Josh's Movie Minute. Nice, but irrelevant.

Posted by: thohan on September 4, 2003 12:22 PM

Folks, it isn't like the terrorists are calling their people home from Peoria, Illinois: "Abandon your missions in America and come back home to fight!" While people die daily in Iraq, especially our servicemen and innocent civilians, there are still terrorist cells in the US, planning new and more creative ways to undermine our way of life.

What Bush has done in Iraq is create what he hopes is an effective distraction to keep the US public from noticing that he has done squat about his promises to capture Bin Laden and defeat Al Quaeda, while at the same time destroying a thriving economy and breeding racism and xenophobia. You know who is NOT distracted by this tactic? The terrorists.

Yeah, great plan, Dubya.

Posted by: Stacey on September 4, 2003 12:48 PM

[sockpuppetry deleted]

Posted by: John on September 4, 2003 12:58 PM

Hear, hear! And careful when you let fly with phrases like "people die daily in Iraq, especially our servicemen and innocent civilians". First of all, a lot less folks be a'dyin now than when Saddam was in power, and the way they're dying is, frankly, more humane. As crappy as it may seem, and it's not even that bad, it's still vastly better than Saddam-ruled Iraq.

Posted by: thohan on September 4, 2003 1:04 PM

thohan, I know your ip address, dude. And therefore know you posted both of the last two comments. Sockpuppetry = not cool, my friend.

I turn on comments for these kind of posts so that people can offer rebuttal. But keep it civil and keep it honest.

Posted by: Matthew on September 4, 2003 1:09 PM

Guilty as charged.

It doesn't pay to use dishonesty in trying to be persuasive. Perhaps a reexamination of my own arguments is in order when I feel compelled to use trickery to strengthen them.

John: Yeah, what he said! Thohan rocks!

Posted by: thohan on September 4, 2003 1:16 PM

Group hug!

Posted by: Matthew on September 4, 2003 1:19 PM

But sock puppets are cool if you're Shari Lewis.

Hmm. No, I misspelled "wildly psychotic". My bad. I always mix up "cool" and "wildly psychotic".

Posted by: ColdForged on September 4, 2003 1:41 PM

Stacey's right. The Iraq war didn't redistribute a limited number of Islamic extremists--it created more and gave them another cause to rally around. It's also helped produce killings of moderates like Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim. Sure, the US war is less bad than Saddam Husseinís tyranny, but it was still badly finessed and badly planned. In the places in Iraq where cluster-bomblets kill and maim Iraqi children, some might argue it was badly fought. Look in todayís headlines for suggestions it was badly financed.

Posted by: Wynne on September 4, 2003 1:58 PM

"A strong offense is the best defense". Cliche' I know, but cliche's are often grounded in an element of "universal truth".

There will always be ethical, political and other negative implications of war, but there are also positives that most of us will never be privy to in the form of intelligence gained and/or keeping your enemies on the defensive and distracted with other targets.

Not a war monger by any means, but a realist who recognizes that the issue is far more complex that many seem to be willing to allow. I am of course concerned about the long-term ramifications of attempting "nation-building" in a place that is rampant with tribal infighting, religious fanaticism, and has no apparent concept of self-unity. But I think there's the strong possibility that that's something of a perceptual creation of predominately western media coverage.

In other words - I don't think the general public over here really has a very good concept of what's REALLY going on over there...

Posted by: HonestAbe on September 4, 2003 2:03 PM

But, thanks for pointing out the irony of that interview in any case. Liked it :)

Posted by: HonestAbe on September 4, 2003 2:05 PM

People who are not Iraqis are flooding into Iraq to fight our troops, and some people want us to believe that this is because we have unjustly occupied this country. Perhaps this is a battle between fundamentalist Islam and the West (or modernity, if you prefer) and Iraq is simply a venue. Had we not invaded Iraq, this war would still be waged, but in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, etc.

If given a choice between one or a half a dozen countries falling into chaos and ruin as a result of the war with fundamentalist Islam, which would you prefer? Perhaps not every single terrorist cell is being called into Iraq, but ever jihadist (can I make up a word please) who goes to Iraq is one who is not somewhere else planning to wreak mayhem.

Posted by: Rob on September 4, 2003 2:52 PM

The Irony I do love is this. Bush's primary complaint about Clintonís Foreign policy was that he was too involved with Nation building. Now, Bush has become embroiled in the building of two separate Nations. Does this mean that he would now say that Clinton had a good foreign policy record?

Posted by: Rob on September 4, 2003 3:00 PM

Do you people honestly know what you're talking about, or are you just soaking in what the media is feeding you?
The way the civilians are being killed in Iraq NOW by the American troops is more HUMANE?? Contrary to what you may think, the Americans aren't 'helping' the Iraqis, and the Iraqis aren't happy to see them invade their homes...!
As for stopping the terrorists, this makes the hostility against Americans even worse. So, no, they wouldn't all go to Iraq to fight their holy 'Jihad' so that you can kill them all in a nice and easy manner..They would continue building their anger at America until who knows what.....
so, instead of one causing mayhem, there's a whole group..
way to go Bush! another excellent idea..

Posted by: jasmine on September 4, 2003 3:35 PM

Well I for one was amused by the connection between these two things. Tee-hee. No deep thoughts. Just that.

Posted by: Miel on September 4, 2003 10:10 PM

I would have to agree with Stacey about it being an effective distraction, but at the same time I read an interesting comment recently (no idea where) stating that it may have been intentional that they let Saddam and bin Laden escape, in order to help track down more cells of Al Qaeda members (because frankly, catching bin Laden will NOT stop Al Qaeda, someone else will take over). It may be giving GW (or his advisors, or whomever) more credit than is due, but it's an interesting theory.

Posted by: Ryan Waddell on September 5, 2003 5:41 AM

Ryan - Interesting theory indeed.

I see that it does take all kinds to run the world. However if the US wasn't constantly getting criticized by everyone with a 'social conscience' - the UN, EU, various peace lovin' groups - and everyone was a bit more on board with the eradication of terrorism and Islamic nutjobs, forces could pursue [Al Qaeda et al] more aggressively. We could be sitting pretty today if we hadn't been kept in check for so long, metaphorically pussyfooting across the living room floor, as to not crush any of our kids' plastic army men.

But like I said, it takes all kinds, and someone has to keep us from carpet-bombing the entire Middle East. Wait, do they?

Posted by: Hockeypuck on September 5, 2003 8:11 AM

Ahh, so we can blame people with a 'social conscience' for not having found Bin Laden, Afghanistan's increasing turmoil, no WMD, thousands of civilian casualties, etc.? Are you actually blaming those who are against this war for how badly this war is going?

"We could be sitting pretty today", does that mean that if we didn't have a bothersome social conscience we could just overthrow the whole middle east once and for all, just overthrow any country that we considered 'backward'?

Posted by: Squidocto on September 5, 2003 8:35 AM

C'mon now! An out-of-context statement juxtaposed with this interview hardly constitues irony. I enjoy the site anyway, Matthew.

Posted by: Mikey on September 5, 2003 8:53 AM

Really now, what has he untied lately?

Posted by: Beerzie Boy on September 5, 2003 10:46 AM

Oh. Uniter. Sorry about that. It's the Lysdexia, you know.

Posted by: Beerzie Boy on September 5, 2003 10:48 AM

"all the terrorists" are heading to Iraq, to impale themselves on our "well-trained" bayonets?

looks like these guys missed the bus to Bagdhad.

the "flypaper" theory is the dumbest post-hoc rationalization yet.

Posted by: ChrisL on September 5, 2003 11:34 AM

There are dozens of groups in the Mid-East that want nothing other than to kill Israelis and Americans. Anywhere, anytime.

Saying that these groups were "not united" in their cause before GW brought them together in 2003 is... well... about what you should normally expect to hear on NPR.

Posted by: Pantubo on September 5, 2003 12:02 PM

'Social conscience' isn't the only reason a person might want to criticize the war in Iraq. In fact, social conscience might be a reason to support it, when one considers that Saddam Hussein (via his cousin Ali al-Majid and other relatives) commited genocide against the Kurds and continued horrific human rights abuses.

However, just because there are many justifications for going to war doesn't mean the Bush administration is handling the war well. For example, retitling the president's victory speech to declare only "major" combat operations over, as the American casualty numbers more than double, might be considered a sign of administration misjudgement. Abandoning pre-war pursuit of UN Security Council support, and then returning to the UN because the US doesn't want to provide sufficient troops and funds, might be considered another.

Posted by: Wynne on September 5, 2003 12:58 PM

What's sockpuppetry?

Posted by: wildsoda on September 6, 2003 2:30 PM

That would be when you create an entry agreeing with your own statements, under a different name.

And hockeypuck: have you ever stepped on one of those plastic army men? They HURT! I would pussyfoot around them too.

Oh, you were speaking metaphorically. Well, they still hurt. Stupid army men.

Posted by: Ryan Waddell on September 8, 2003 5:54 AM