What Makes Iraq’s Islamists Special?

Bernard Finel, weighing in on the “Two Iraq Wars” debate, makes an interesting point:

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.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Terrorism, , , ,
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. Bithead says:

    I’m not sure ‘mission creep’ is a fair asesment, given the changing nature of the enemy and the war being brought to us BY that changing enemy. Are we to not react to it?

    As for…

    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 clear Finel has forgotten, if he ever really understood, why a woking democracy in Iraq was set as a goal in the first place, and why radical Islam is so dead set against it; to wrest control not only of Iraq from the radical islamists, but once so established, such a democracy’s very existance serves as a caling and stabilizing influence against radical Islam, for the remainder of the region. It was that lack of a stable influence in the region which allowed the terrorists to train and build up their movement. Think that, lack, and that buildup affected our national security, and that of the world?

  2. Triumph says:

    but once so established, such a democracy’s very existance serves as a caling and stabilizing influence against radical Islam, for the remainder of the region.

    This is a pretty pollyanna-ish assessment. It is much more sensible to expect that increasing democratization could provide even more power to radical Islam–just look at Hamas. If Egypt had popular elections the Muslim Brotherhood would likely prevail.

    While not Islamic, a US-designated terrorist group just won popularly contested elections in Nepal.

  3. Bithead says:

    This is a pretty pollyanna-ish assessment.

    And the other path… what lies in that direction? The Shah? Saddam? And isn’t that interesting? Wasn’t all that long ago the left was complaining that we supported Saddam, and the Shah, which led to our current problems in the region. You’ve just given us a fair answer as to WHY we did so. Your argument prevailed at that time. Then again, we now see how well, that situation worked.

    So, what that leaves us with is the course we’re now on, as the only alternative to another Saddam.

  4. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    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 insurgencies are not created equal. All the locations mentioned above are either relatively miniscule in scope, and therefore not a viable threat to our security, such as Morocco, or are being combatted by the government in power, such as in the Phillipines or Pakistan.

    Iraq however posed a different problem in that Saddam Hussein used the threat of AQ, and to some degree promoted it, for his own political ends, rather than combat it. This posed a serious threat to the entire region, and by extension to our security.

    To equate the insurgency in Iraq with that in say Yemen is laughable.

  5. Michael says:

    Further, one presumes the Islamists in Iraq are a greater threat to us and our interests than those in, say, Thailand.

    Only because we haven’t given them a hundred thousand targets in Thailand.

    Does anybody think that either AQI or the Shia militias are capable of attacking US interests outside of Iraq? Does anybody think the Shia militias would even be interested in doing so?

  6. Michael says:

    So, what that leaves us with is the course we’re now on, as the only alternative to another Saddam.

    So, Maliki is not another Saddam?

  7. Hal says:

    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.

    Um, I’m a bit confused here. The assessment of even our own military has consistently been that foreigners have always been a miniscule part of the insurgency in Iraq. Further, the insurgency is almost entirely nationalistic, not “Islamic”. The whole “awakening” that has been widely touted has pretty much shown that there isn’t any real affinity between what we’re calling an “Islamic” movement and the Sunni insurgency. Going even further, we note that Sunnis aren’t exactly naturally aligned with what is a Shiite movement.

    By all assessments, we’re not fighting Islamist violence in Iraq except in the trivial sense that the Sunni insurgents are muslims.

    So, again, why are we still in Iraq?

  8. Scott_T says:

    Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Pakistan, Thailand, Philippines, etc.

    Does this Bernard Finel even follow world happenings at all to make stupid-assed comments like this?

    Sub-Sahara Africa is a mess and very hard to instill order their at all. Look at the US’s attempt at installing order under Clinton. Yeah that was real popular with the Somoli Clans.

    Algeria’s own government has whipped the terrorists pretty much and it’s a small remenant (if at all) of what it once was.

    Tunisia/Morroco have a government which is anti-terrorist, and those movements their have pretty much died out (compared to when it was most potent)

    Palestine isn’t a country their buddy. WHich map is he going from? The Isrealis are protecting themselves pretty well, considering Eygpt doesn’t do squat with Gaza to crush terrorists.

    Lebannon, the US is trying to get a anti-terrorist (ie non-Syrian) government stabilized and working for the good of the country. But Hamas is actively supported/payrolled by Iran to forment hatred against Isreal and destablize the central government.

    Phillipines, while they have an insurgency their the Phillipine Armed Forces are going after them, with US Special Ops training (I believe), probably some help with Navy/AF survelience too.

    Pakistan, the US if trying to goad them into being harder against their uncontrolled badlands, but they just had a democratic election. So the US can’t throw it’s weight around their.

    Really, I just follow the world-happenings, and I know this much. Is he really supposed to be someone that’s knowledgable in this stuff?

  9. Bithead says:

    So, Maliki is not another Saddam?

    I wasn’t aware Maliki had dictatorial powers, nor was I aware he’d set himself up as a god-like figure.

    Only because we haven’t given them a hundred thousand targets in Thailand.

    Ummmm… no. Because, rather, we have no information suggesting they’ve set up training camps there, nor have the lauched any attacks elswhere in the world, from there. be easy enough to do in the jet age, they’ve simply not DONE it.

    The assessment of even our own military has consistently been that foreigners have always been a miniscule part of the insurgency in Iraq.

    well, yes, and no.

    General Vines, who commands all coalition forces in Iraq, says the foreign fighters are a small but deadly group, who get help from elements in Syria who facilitate the arrival in Iraq of an estimated 75 to 150 insurgents every month. He said there is no evidence the Syrian government itself supports the insurgency, but he called on that government to do more to prevent its territory from being used in that way. According to the general, the foreign fighters’ main countries of origin include Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

    The general said other groups involved in Iraq’s insurgency include Sunni extremists, former elements of the Saddam Hussein regime and Iraqis who simply want all foreign forces out of the country. He noted that the month of May was the deadliest in Iraq since the end of major combat two years ago, and he said he expects the number of insurgent attacks to remain about the same for the next few months, until the process of writing a new constitution and electing a new government is completed.

    That was the situation, back in June of 05.

    From the Wiki, today:

    Because of its clandestine nature, the exact composition of the Iraqi insurgency is difficult to determine, but the main groupings are:

    Ba’athists, the armed supporters of Saddam Hussein’s former regime, e.g. army or intelligence officers;
    Nationalists, mostly Sunni Muslims, who fight for Iraqi self-determination;
    anti-Shi’a Sunni Muslims who fight to regain the prestige they held under the previous regime (the three preceding categories are often indistinguishable in practice);
    Iraqi Sunni Islamists, the indigenous armed followers of the Salafi movement, as well as any remnants of the Kurdish Ansar al-Islam;
    Shi’a militias, including the southern, Iran-linked Badr Organization, the Mahdi Army, and the central-Iraq followers of Muqtada al-Sadr
    Foreign Islamist volunteers, including those often linked to al Qaeda and largely driven by the Sunni Wahhabi doctrine (the two preceding categories are often lumped as “Jihadists”);
    Various socialist revolutionaries (such as the Iraqi Armed Revolutionary Resistance);
    Nonviolent resistance groups and political parties (not part of the armed insurgency).

    At the bottom line, your suggestion that the insurgency is in fact home grown, I suppose to depend on how long one needs to be in country to match your description of ‘iraqi’.

  10. Michael says:

    But Hamas is actively supported/payrolled by Iran to forment hatred against Isreal and destablize the central government.

    You mean Hezbollah, don’t you?

  11. Michael says:

    I wasn’t aware Maliki had dictatorial powers, nor was I aware he’d set himself up as a god-like figure.

    The cult of personality isn’t there, I’ll give you that much. But the comments I hear coming from actual Iraqi’s is that Maliki’s Badr corps does pretty much whatever it wants, without legal repercussions.

    Because, rather, we have no information suggesting they’ve set up training camps there, nor have the lauched any attacks elswhere in the world, from there.

    Which was also true of AQI (or what was to become AQI) in 2002.

  12. James Joyner says:
      But Hamas is actively supported/payrolled by Iran to forment hatred against Isreal and destablize the central government.

    You mean Hezbollah, don’t you?

    Actually, “According to the US State Department, the group is funded by Iran, Palestinian expatriates, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.”

    But, yeah, I’m guessing he meant Hezbollah.

  13. Michael says:

    According to the US State Department, the group is funded by Iran, Palestinian expatriates, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.

    Forgive my sceptacism, but it seems _every_ bad thing in the world is somehow being run out of Iran these days, at least according to our current administration officials.

    Tracking down the Wikipedia link, it points to a 2005 PDF that contains just the outline of a report. The outline itself only lists Hamas as a terrorist group, it doesn’t say anything about who is funding them.

  14. James Joyner says:

    Forgive my sceptacism, but it seems _every_ bad thing in the world is somehow being run out of Iran these days

    There is that. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if Iran were funding Hamas, though, under the principle “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

  15. Bithead says:

    Besides, James, Hamas is the one in power, just now.

  16. Hal says:

    At the bottom line, your suggestion that the insurgency is in fact home grown, I suppose to depend on how long one needs to be in country to match your description of ‘iraqi’.

    Um, no. No one is disputing there aren’t some foreign fighters. But no one in the military disputes the fact that this is a nationalist insurgency and not a foreign invasion. The wiki you point to doesn’t say how much of the insurgency is composed of foreign fighters and so your holding the flashlight under your chin and muttering darkly about definitions doesn’t mean squat…

    The bottom line is that we have been fighting against a sunni dominated nationalistic insurgency. With the “awakening” movement, many of these Sunnis turned against what little Al Qaeda “islamists” there were and they seem to have done a good job getting rid of them. Now we have a intra Shiite power struggle going on.

    Again, nothing even close to your dark mutterings of a global conflict. We were refereeing a horrific civil war and now it looks as though we’re going to referee another one.

    Madness.

  17. Rich says:

    That’s why the 2 war thesis is so stupid. The so-called 2nd war is a continuation of the so-called 1st. I guess Austria’s invasion of Serbia in 1914 was a separate war from the US’s defense of the Marne in 1918. Of course not. 1918 was nothing more than the progression of events from 4 years earlier, some of which may have been foreseen, some of which could not have been.

    The whole 2 war thesis shows that conservatives can be just as stupid as liberals when they over-analyze a problem.
    As for the question at hand, the obvious answer is the size of the islamist push in each country. Plus there is an active US military effort, covert or otherwise in most of those other countries listed.

  18. ScottT… with all due respect… you don’t know what you are talking about. Iraq has an anti-terror government as well by your logic. The question is whether the jihadist movement in Iraq is any more dangerous than that anywhere else.

    Morocco-based groups have been linked to attacks in Germany and Spain. Algerians to plots all over the place–from the U.S. to the Indonesia. Tunisian groups into Italy. And on and on and on. At this point, the most we have seen from Iraqi groups is a plot in Jordan, as far as I know. By any reasonable measure, the violent Islamist groups present in at least a dozen countries pose at least as large a threat to the United States and its allies as the groups active in Iraq.

    Facts are sometimes unpleasant to consider… but that does not make them untrue.

  19. yetanotherjohn says:

    This argument is built on a fundamental fallacy.

    If we have to win in Iraq, then why are we under no similar compulsion to intervene in all those other conflicts?

    First, that we aren’t intervening in other places around the world. We are.

    Second, that to intervene we must be using the same means as Iraq. This is a very ironic position for someone who is advocating running away in Iraq. In short, lets create a dozen Iraqs to be consistent. It is like saying to use a hammer in one part of building a house, you must either stop building the house or use the hammer as the only tool for all aspects of building the house.

    Third, as James notes, were are there now. To retreat will not be seen as an enlightened step of America rejecting going to Iraq in the first place (or second place depending on how you count the earlier 1990’s episode). There is a reason why AQ was recruiting and sending people from many of the countries listed. The fact that those recruits are finding life in Iraq less pleasant as the Anabar awakening spreads is good news for Iraq and the rest of those countries. Osama based his strategy on showing America as being weak. To cave now would be to validate Obama’s strategy with the caveat that it took longer than expected to break the US. That would make the situation worse in those countries he lists.

  20. Bithead says:

    ScottT… with all due respect… you don’t know what you are talking about. Iraq has an anti-terror government as well by your logic. The question is whether the jihadist movement in Iraq is any more dangerous than that anywhere else.

    Perhaps the question you ought to be asking is what gains are possible there, vs anywhere else.

  21. Bithead says:

    Um, no. No one is disputing there aren’t some foreign fighters. But no one in the military disputes the fact that this is a nationalist insurgency and not a foreign invasion.

    Nationalist? Or simply Sectarian?

  22. spencer says:

    Bithead– it has been clearly established that there were no terrorists training camps in Iraq before the US invasion.

    Why do you keep repeating this canard?

    You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

    Why is no one else objecting to this dishonesty?

    Is it just that everyone ignores bithead?

  23. Hal says:

    Nationalist? Or simply Sectarian?

    It was clearly nationalist previously. Then some 2 million plus Iraqis were displaced internally plus another million plus left the country. Then there was all the ethnic cleansing. To be clear the largest humanitarian crisis *ever* happened on our watch.

    Now with this largely settled, it seems that we’re moving into sectarian civil war between Shiite factions.

    This isn’t a war against foreign fighters. This is a civil war.

    Again, why are we in Iraq?

  24. sam says:

    … once so established, such a democracy’s very existance serves as a calming and stabilizing influence against radical Islam, for the remainder of the region.

    That is the hope. But now the question becomes, How long do we have to stay there to insure the firm establishment of this “calming and stabilizing” influence? 50, 70, 100 years?

  25. teqjack says:

    Uh, AQ is not now and never has been a major player in Iraq.

    Yes, we are fighting Islamists there – just as in the past we have fought pirates elsewhere. But not everywhere, and not simultaneously (even WWII had non-combatant “bad guys”).

    Congress did not even authorise the more recent invasion because of AQ or Islamists:
    ——-

    The reasons:

    1. Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq’s war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

    2. Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

    3. Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;

    4. Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;

    5. Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in “material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations” and urged the President “to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations” (Public Law 105-235);

    6. Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

    7. Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

    8. Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;

    9. Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;

    10. Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

    11. Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;

    12. Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001 underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

    13. Whereas Iraq’s demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

    14. Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949;

    15 Whereas Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) has authorized the President “to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677”;

    16 Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it “supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1),” that Iraq’s repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and “constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,” and that Congress, “supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688”;

    17. Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;
    Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to “work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge” posed by Iraq and to “work for the necessary resolutions,” while also making clear that “the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable”;

    18. Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq’s ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;

    19. Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 or harbored such persons or organizations;

    20. Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

    21. Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and

    22. Whereas it is in the national security of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region;

    Therefore…

  26. yetanotherjohn says:

    Teqjack,

    Do you bother to read what you post?

    Congress did not even authorise the more recent invasion because of AQ or Islamists:

    10. Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

    11. Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;

    18. Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq’s ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;

    19. Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 or harbored such persons or organizations;

    20. Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

    21. Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and

  27. brainy435 says:

    Are you people for real? Iraq is one battle in a larger war. We didn’t attack Iraq due to the “badness” of the terrorists there, we did so because it was to our strategic advantage. It was the easiest sell, if only for the multiple breeches of the cease-fire. We had to fight in the region, why not in the place we knew best, had fought a war in the last decade or so and had run combat missions in the no-fly zones since? If you’re going to fight someone away from home, it’s to your advantage to pick a battlefield you are most familiar with. Also, there’s the oil. We didn’t pick Iraq to get OUR hands on their oil, despite moonbat ravings, but because they could get revenue by opening up the oil fields they had a good chance to help themselves after things settled down. Obviously we were hoping they would settle down much faster, but we screwed ourselves on that one by turning our backs on them in 91.

    Iraq was the best location to fight a war we did not start. If we had taken our heads out of our asses a decade or so earlier, it would have been much easier to prosecute this war.

  28. What Makes Iraq’s Islamists Special?

    There is a lot more oil in Iraq that many of those other countries, and if they got control of the country it would support their efforts, and the country is a lot more accessable to travel to other countries than for exampled land-locked Afghanistan.

  29. Bithead says:

    Bithead– it has been clearly established that there were no terrorists training camps in Iraq before the US invasion.

    Really?

    Better recheck your facts.

    Nationalist? Or simply Sectarian?

    It was clearly nationalist previously. Then some 2 million plus Iraqis were displaced internally plus another million plus left the country. Then there was all the ethnic cleansing. To be clear the largest humanitarian crisis *ever* happened on our watch.

    I would suggest you look closely at the tensions that existed prior to the Iran/Iraq war.

    That is the hope. But now the question becomes, How long do we have to stay there to insure the firm establishment of this “calming and stabilizing” influence? 50, 70, 100 years?

    How long have we been in Germany, Japan, and Korea for exactly that purpose? Kosovo? Getting the picture yet?