Iraq and Jihadist Terrorists
My article “Iraq and Jihadist Terrorists” is up at Strategic Insights.
Whether toppling Saddam’s regime in Iraq was worth the opportunity cost of diverting forces from other targets-let alone the immense continuing cost in blood and treasure-is beyond the scope of this paper, and is surely a matter the reader is competent to judge in the course of time. Completely aside from those questions, however, the war unquestionably removed a significant state sponsor of jihadist terrorists. In so doing, however, it attracted thousands of them to the region to do battle with U.S. forces, hoping to defeat a second superpower in as many generations.
It remains to be seen whether the latter is a positive development. Certainly, it is preferable to fight terrorists in an open battle, using highly skilled soldiers, than to have them operate on the American homeland. The U.S. and its allies have killed or captured dozens of key terrorist leaders and hundreds of jihadist footsoldiers. It is unclear, of course, how many the invasion created.
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