Fight the enemy in Iraq or here?
By Alan Caruba
Among my circle of friends, the question of whether to fight on in Iraq is largely settled. They want to fight the jihadists there, reasoning that failure to carry the fight to the enemy will lead inevitably to attacks on the homeland.
Taking the long view of things, I am inclined to believe that al-Qaida and like-minded groups have examined the lessons of 9-11 to fashion a plan for a future that fits their belief that America (and Israel) must be destroyed.
I don't think it's an accident they have not attacked again and I don't think anyone can truly grasp how certifiably insane these people and the millions of Muslims who support them truly are.
Islam has been at war with the world since its inception and has been enjoying a renewed spirit of jihad since as early as the 1920s when the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt. It gained momentum after World War II in the 1950s and burst forth in 1979 as the Iranian revolution that deposed the Shah. Muslims—mostly Arabs—think they have a score to settle since the Crusades.
The recent thwarted attack on Fort Dix suggests that the U.S. homeland is vulnerable no matter whether we have 150,000 troops in Iraq or not. Indeed, in a nation with open borders and a million foreigners getting off of airplanes every year as tourists or to conduct business, I can't imagine how much more vulnerable we could be.
A nation that cannot stop, cannot track, and cannot find 12 million illegal aliens in its midst is vulnerable even if we had a policeman or soldier on every street corner. Add in "sanctuary" cities, the vast array of services plus other forms of accommodation, and about the only way the Illegals might head south again is if our cities became Islamic terrorist killing fields.
Unfortunately, neither President Bush, nor the Congress seems to have understood the danger. Illegal immigration is quite possibly the single greatest threat this nation faces today. It shouldn't surprise anyone that some members of the jihad cell planning the Fort Dix attack were here illegally. This was true, of course, of the 9-11 hijackers as well.
The argument for the invasion of Iraq was based in part on the need to create a democratic government with which to replace Saddam's horrid regime. I no longer believe we can bring democracy to the region.
Other than Turkey where Ataturk imposed a secular government on that nation after WWI with the help of the military, and Israel, there are no democracies functioning in the Middle East. Lebanon had a democracy of sorts but the Palestinians and Syrians destroyed that the minute Muslims outnumbered the Christian population.
The recent failed al-Qaida attack on a refinery in Saudi Arabia prompts me to think that this "holy war" is also very much about oil and who controls it. Al-Qaida and similar groups understand that as long as the monarchs control it, they will throw money at and pay lip service to the spread of Islam, but their primary concern is oil wealth.
I think, too, that if the U.S. felt that any of those oil nations was in danger, we would come in--as we did in Kuwait--and restore the situation. That's why Vice President Dick Cheney recently was loudly telling the Iranians that any effort to mess around with the sea lanes by which that oil makes its way to the West would be punished. He did so from the deck of a U.S. carrier and his next stop was Saudi Arabia.
So the "vulnerability" argument that we must remain in Iraq indefinitely or, in Bush terms, that we must not "cut and run", clashes with the reality of the way jihad is spread these days. For that we can thank the Internet. The FBI counts some 6,000 jihad websites. Some provide detailed instructions on how to build car bombs or become one yourself.
Thus, as was the case of the British born-and-bred jihadists who killed people on buses and in subways in 2005, al-Qaida does not need to maintain camps in places that are hard to reach in order to instruct and encourage attacks. This is not to say they don't have camps. They do, but more for the purpose of overthrowing Middle Eastern regimes than for a massed army that would attack the U.S.
Finally, the need to remain in Iraq seems increasingly futile given that most people in the region appear to be waiting for it to bust into three separate areas for the Kurds, the Sunnis, and the Shiites. The administration keeps warning that the Shiites will ally with Iran, but many of the elected leaders of Iraq have long had strong ties as it is. Many were granted sanctuary in Iran from Saddam Hussein when he was in power.
As someone who can recall the debacle in Vietnam as U.S. administrations sought an "honorable" way out, history appears to be telling us to begin preparing for new battles in other places while reducing our presence in Iraq. We have worn out our army there.
The Middle East defeats our best efforts because we simply do not understand the way Islam and tribal loyalty totally defines the lives of all who live there.
Meanwhile, back at home, we need to salute the FBI's latest coup—thanks to a sharp-eyed Circuit City employee—and find ways to frustrate future attacks. In Europe, they intend to monitor the mosques. There are surely many American Muslims who are loyal citizens. It's the ones who are not that worry me.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. His book, "Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy", is published by Merril Press. © Alan Caruba, May 2007