In One Eye

Friday, July 08, 2005
 
For the best update on yesterday's London bombings, Juan Cole is not to be missed. Moreover, Professor Cole has an article in this morning's Salon.com wherein he states:
From the point of view of a serious counterinsurgency campaign against al-Qaida, Bush has made exactly the wrong decisions all along the line. He decided to "unleash" Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rather than pressing for Israeli-Palestinian peace and an end to Israeli occupation of the territories it captured in 1967. Rather than extinguishing this most incendiary issue for Arabs and Muslims, he poured gasoline on it. His strategy in response to Sept. 11 was to fight the Afghanistan War on the cheap. By failing to commit American ground troops in Tora Bora, he allowed bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to escape. He reneged on promises to rebuild Afghanistan and prevent the reemergence of the Taliban and al-Qaida there, thus prolonging the U.S. and NATO military presence indefinitely. He then diverted most American military and reconstruction resources into an illegal war on Iraq. That war may have been doomed from the beginning, but Bush's refusal to line up international support, and his administration's criminal lack of planning for the postwar period, made failure inevitable.

Conservative commentators argue that Iraq is a "fly trap" for Muslim terrorists. It makes much more sense to think of it as bin Laden's fly trap for Western troops. There, jihadis can kill them (making the point that they are not invulnerable), and can provoke reprisals against Iraqi civilians that defame the West in the Muslim world. After Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, many Muslims felt that Bin Laden's dire warnings to them that the United States wanted to occupy their countries, rape their women, humiliate their men, and steal their assets had been vindicated.

These claims were not credited by most of the world's Muslims before the Iraq war. Opinion polls show that most of the world's Muslims have great admiration for democracy and many other Western values. They object to the U.S. and the U.K. because of their policies, not their values. Before Bush, for instance, the vast majority of Indonesians felt favorably toward the United States. Even after a recent bounce from U.S. help with tsunami relief, only about a third now do.

The global anti-insurgency battle against al-Qaida must be fought smarter if the West is to win. To criminal investigations and surveillance must be added a wiser set of foreign policies. Long-term Western military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is simply not going to be acceptable to many in the Muslim world. U.S. actions at Abu Ghraib and Fallujah created powerful new symbols of Muslim humiliation that the jihadis who sympathize with al-Qaida can use to recruit a new generation of terrorists. The U.S. must act as an honest broker in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And Bush and Blair must urgently find a credible exit strategy from Iraq that can extricate the West from bin Laden's fly trap.

Chicago political scientist Robert Pape argues in his new book, "Dying to Win," that the vast majority of suicide bombers are protesting foreign military occupation undertaken by democratic societies where public opinion matters. He points out that there is no recorded instance of a suicide attack in Iraq in all of history until the Anglo-American conquest of that country in 2003. He might have added that neither had any bombings been undertaken elsewhere in the name of Iraq.

George Bush is sure to try to use the London bombings to rally the American people to support his policies. If Americans look closer, however, they will realize that Bush's incompetent crusade has made the world more dangerous, not less.
I'm sure that the usual suspects will "use the London bombings to rally the American people to support [Dear Leader's] policies," but Professor Cole's summation seems particularly apt to me.