July 02, 2005

Will the Jihadis Go Away if We Do?

Donald Sensing has a good article on the subject of military compulsion, how combat is a great deal about compelling your enemy to do what you want them to. As an endnote, he chides Callimachus for saying

We can be building up a strong and stable Iraq. Or we can be setting up a permanent battlefield there to draw in jihadis (the "flypaper effect") and fight them there because it's better than fighting them there.

But not both. If we are deliberately attempting seriously to do both, we're making a mistake.

Donald Sensing replies that a strong Iraqi that is stable is an important part of the flypaper effect. Even more, it is essential to the effort.

I think that Donald Sensing is right because I think that if we pack up our bags and go away, the jihadis will not. The flypaper backing is stuck to Iraq and the flypaper strategy can only be abandoned by an islamist government takeover. Given that reality, setting up Iraqi flypaper as we have will give us a bonus effect after we leave the bulk of our forces or even leave entirely. The jihadis will continue to go after Iraq until it falls. After all, they have not stopped attacks on the government of Saudi Arabia because US troops have left that kingdom.

The diplomatic bonus for the US in the islamic world is significant. Iraq can only cease to be a major focus for jihadi efforts if other countries join it as free and democratic nations, whether as constitutional monarchies or as republics. Thus, for their own national security and apart from any feelings of national gratitude for liberation from Saddam, Iraq's policy on muslim democratization and liberalization is pretty much fixed in a position that is favorable to long-term US goals as long as the current government stands and islamists remain a violent force.

If the Iraqi government is not strong, if Iraq is not stable, the diplomatic bonus we have bought with 1700+ casualties will be short lived, ephemeral. We've paid the piper let us at least enjoy the tune.

Posted by TMLutas at July 2, 2005 08:40 AM