NPR's On Point: Terrorism in Iraq
This morning's episode of the NPR show On Point was good enough that my morning pretty much stopped for this hour, except for washing up a few dishes. To cite their opening blurb:
Back when defenders of the war in Iraq were still sure of themselves, some of them tossed off terms like "roach motel" and "the flypaper strategy." The idea was that terrorists from around the world would be lured into Iraq and would fight their last. They'd check in, and not check out.
Well, that theory turned out to be colossally wrong. Iraq has turned out to be as good a finishing school for terrorists as Osama Bin Laden could have prayed for.
This topic has been something that has always annoyed me--the simpletons who say, "Well, it's better that we're fighting them over there instead of over here." It's inconceivable to me that they think of it as an 'either-or' situation. Compare the resources required: to do some damage in the U.S., you need airline tickets, forged passports, money to support them in the States, a decent enough command of English to pass as a cab driver, etc. To do damage in Iraq, you need to hitch a ride across the Middle East, and be willing to pick up an AK, or strap on a ball bearing & explosives vest and go 'Allahu akbar.' Granted, the targets are harder in Iraq--armed and armored U.S. servicemen, compared to soft civilian targets in the U.S. But it's not like we're depleting their pool of jihadis by giving them targets in Iraq. Also, see various attacks in Europe for further evidence. Grr.
The episode dealt with a variety of factors that I've heard in bits and pieces before, but hearing them all in one place was pretty telling. For instance, that nations hostile to the U.S. around the world are heartened by seeing the most technologically advanced and powerful military being tied down by an insurgency of this nature. There's a reason why Hugo Chavez is making a show of preparing resistance of this nature in his country. Another topic--even moderate Iraqis are becoming more and more radicalized, because, well, we broke their country.
One anecdote that struck me was in regards to the technological advancement of IEDs. I'm not re-listening to the whole show to cite it exactly, but it was something like, "in Northern Ireland or Chechnya, they needed time X to develop their IEDs to a certain level; in Iraq, it is a fraction of that time." The spread of information on the net between jihadis, plus whatever technology they're gaining from sponsor nations [machining explosively-formed projectile IEDs, gettting RPG-29s] means that their effectiveness can be multiplied quickly. Check out that EFP link if you get a chance--that's a pretty friggin' scary armor-defeating method that doesn't require much advanced technology. The New York Times and other sources have talked about the effectiveness of snipers against U.S. troops--a classic insurgency harassment tactic. I actually downloaded and watched one of those videos of U.S. troops being shot by snipers--it made me angered, sickened, but mostly just resigned and sad.
Anyway, one thing to take small comfort in:
To put this in historical perspective, according to this source, similar end-of-office approval ratings were held by Carter, at 34%; and Nixon, at 24%. [Side note--damn, 1/4 of the U.S. population still thought Nixon was doing a good job as he was leaving? How stupid are you people?] It is said that cultural trends start at the coasts and work their way to the heartland... it appears they might be catching on there or something. Yes, a simplistic interpretation, but every day of the news wants to make me say to my countrymen, "WHY DID YOU WEAK-MINDED FOOLS RE-ELECT HIM?!?!"
Okay, enough politics. Back to your normal, irreverently humorous BatBlog.