Let's Declare War on Futility

The month of September will be pivotal to the future of U.S. operations in Iraq, with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker scheduled to report on the success (or lack thereof) of the troop-surge plan. Both sides are already hard at work to spin things in their direction.

We can safely assume, no matter what the reports say, that the president will not give an inch in the direction of withdrawing troops. We can also safely assume that the Congressional opponents of the war will continue to call for withdrawal, notwithstanding the contents of the Petraeus and Crocker reports. At this point it appears that the Democrats do not have the means to force their will on this issue. This suggest that, after much sound and fury, not much will change.

The mantra of pro-war forces is that they just need "more time." More time is probably what they will get, but is it really time going to help? Maybe, maybe not. It could actually hurt. Consider this:

When the United States struck Afghanistan in 2001, "there were probably 3,000 core Al Qaeda operatives," says Arquilla of the Naval Postgraduate School. "We killed or captured about 1,000; about 1,000 more ended up in distant parts of the world. And about 1,000 ended up in Waziristan. But the great terror university in Afghanistan is gone; they've relied on the Web since. They haven't had the hands-on instruction and the bonding of the camps. That's resulted in low-skill levels. Their tradecraft is really much poorer.".

The danger now, says Arquilla, is that the longer the Iraq War goes on, the more skilled the new generations of jihadists will become. "They're getting re-educated," he says. "The first generation of Al Qaeda came through the [Afghan] camps. The second generation are those who've logged on [to Islamist Web sites]. The next generation will be those who have come through the crucible of Iraq. Eventually, their level of skill is going to be greater than the skill of the original generation." SOURCE

I find this argument compelling because the U.S. government has a long history, in its grand plans, of creating outcomes that are the opposite of what was intended. LBJ declared war on poverty. Did we get less poverty? No, we have more of it. Nixon declared war on drugs. Is there less drug abuse now? No, there is more of it. Other examples abound.

So it is not a stretch to think that George W. Bush's war on terror may produce more terrorism rather than less. It is hard to see how it serves U.S. interests to provide live-fair training and recruiting incentives for our enemies. Given that the poverty and drug wars are still with us, there seems to be little chance this one will end soon, either.

Hat tip: Born at the Crest

UPDATE 9/3/07: I edited the text above to say that the War on Drugs was launched by Nixon, not Reagan. Also, here is a nice article by Paul Farrell of MarketWatch.com about the connection between drugs, terrorism, and borders.

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