What Makes Iraq’s Islamists Special?
The fact is that there are many Islamist insurgencies around the world — Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Pakistan, Thailand, Philippines, etc. All of them are potential locations for AQ to establish a safe haven… indeed, they have already established one in Pakistan. There is nothing unique about the threat posed by internal violence and Islamist groups in Iraq… except that fact that we are already there. So they are not separate wars, but rather a single conflict characterized by poor planning, incoherent strategy, and mission creep.
If we have to win in Iraq, then why are we under no similar compulsion to intervene in all those other conflicts? If you can answer that question in a coherent manner, then you get to make the case that meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs is crucial to American national security. But frankly, I have never heard a convincing case for why Iraq’s insurgents are that much more dangerous than the others.
It’s a fair point.
After all, were we not in Iraq, and it, for the sake of argument, otherwise looked exactly as it does now, we almost certainly wouldn’t decide to send troops into that mess, right?
Then again, the fact that we are in Iraq — and that our invasion created the stage for the explosion of Islamist violence there — is a significant “except for.” Further, one presumes the Islamists in Iraq are a greater threat to us and our interests than those in, say, Thailand.