FLYPAPER ON THE WALL

The “flypaper” theory is apparently becoming the Conventional Wisdom even though I’ve scarcely heard of it. It was mentioned, albeit not by name, in the Ralph Peters piece I linked yesterday. Basically, it asserts that we’re trying to lure all the terrorists from around the region into Iraq so that we can kill them more efficiently. While I’m all for efficiency–and killing terrorists, for that matter–this thesis is rather shaky.

Daniel Drezner notes that the goal in Iraq is–or at least should be–the opposite of a terrorist magnet:

In terms of the broader neocon vision of transforming the Middle East, Iraq needs to be an oasis of stability, not a grand opening for Terrorists ‘R Us. [But what about Josh Marshall’s theory that the neocons want greater instability as an excuse for greater U.S. intervention?–ed. If Marshall was correct, then the last thing the administration would want if for destabilizing elements to leave their home countries and go to Iraq. That would make it harder, not easier, to justify U.S. incursions elsewhere in the region.]

Indeed.

Furthermore, were I a terrorist, I would blow stuff up in places other than those guarded by bored, irritable American soldiers who would rather do something other than hang out where it’s 110 degrees and the women are off limits. But that’s just me.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Gunther says:

    I thought the flypaper theory was ridiculous when I first heard of it. Flypaper attracts flies but actually kills them once they get there. What’s going on in Iraq right now is more like setting upo a full course meal on your dinner table, then opening up all your doors and windows and letting all the flies in your neighborhood come into your house to roam around at will. Occasionally you might swat one if it comes to close to you, but basically it’s an uncontrollable situation.

  2. Paul says:

    (I’m pretty sure that theory has been around for about 45 days.)

    Look- All of it, on both sides, is a conspiracy theory.

    Why would the “neocons” need an excuse to sent more troops when every talking head on the air keeps saying we are undermanned????

    Clearly they would have sent more troops by now if that was the goal? No?

    Cynicism is a wonderful thing– until it crosses the line into paranoia.

    In the words of Sigmund Freud, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

  3. John Rogers says:

    I think that Iraq can be both a magnet for terrorists and an oasis of stability.

    I think groups like Al Qaeda -blowing up things like water pipelines – will quickly wear out any welcome they get from the Iraqi people. Perhaps the Iraqi will join us (more than they have already) in quashing the terrorists.

    Iraq is huge experiment, and we won’t know if it has worked for another decade at least.

  4. John Rogers says:

    I think that Iraq can be both a magnet for terrorists and an oasis of stability.

    I think groups like Al Qaeda -blowing up things like water pipelines – will quickly wear out any welcome they get from the Iraqi people. Perhaps the Iraqi will join us (more than they have already) in quashing the terrorists.

    Iraq is huge experiment, and we won’t know if it has worked for another decade at least.

  5. John Rogers says:

    I think that Iraq can be both a magnet for terrorists and an oasis of stability.

    I think groups like Al Qaeda -blowing up things like water pipelines – will quickly wear out any welcome they get from the Iraqi people. Perhaps the Iraqi will join us (more than they have already) in quashing the terrorists.

    Iraq is huge experiment, and we won’t know if it has worked for another decade at least.