I've never found the thought that we are fighting the terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them here to be the best argument (nor the best-worded) to justify our presence in Iraq. I much prefer the formulation, 'We are fighting the terrorists over there to provide a safe, secure Iraq, in the hopes that this will increase the security of ourselves and our allies by removing one of the hot spots of discontent in the Middle East'. It's not catchy, but it's accurate...but back to Arianna:
Not only was this flypaper theory empirically disproved by the London carnage, it directly contradicts the president's other most often used justification for the war - that we invaded to liberate the Iraqi people. So let me get this straight: we invaded them to liberate them...and to use them as bait to attract terrorists who we could fight on the streets of Baghdad rather than the streets of London and New York?Oh, my, but that's bad stuff...where to begin? How about here: what can Arianna possibly mean when she says the London attacks have 'empirically disproved' the flypaper theory? Does she have a concept of the meaning of the words she strings together? How is a terrorist attack 'empirical proof'? It's proof that in a world of 6 billion souls, there are suicidal, homicidal maniacs...but then, we didn't need proof of that, did we?
Of course, it didn't take the London bombings to reveal this premise as a sham. The presence of American forces in Iraq didn't keep the enemies of western culture from attacking Madrid. And it didn't keep them from planting explosives in London's tubes. And it won't, in and of itself, keep them from striking here. Indeed, it's helping terrorists recruit new followers - and hone their deadly skills.
How pathetic is it to keep arguing that fighting Baathist Sunni insurgents in Iraq is keeping us safe from Al Qaeda terrorists and their offshoots on our soil? It's still not clear who was responsible for the London bombings, but let's assume for a moment that the initial reports turn out to be true, and that it was an offshoot of Al Qaeda. No one can seriously argue that if the U.S. and Britain had spent the last 46 months - and over $200 billion - focusing on Al Qaeda rather than Iraq these attacks would not have happened. But we can say without a doubt that spending that time and money in Iraq did not prevent them.
Let's be lawyer-like here and stipulate that we cannot win the War on Terror if we define victory as 'the complete eradication of terroristic attacks resulting in loss of life'. The focus of Arianna and the 'progressives' on Osama is baffling, though; yes, I want to see the sorry S.O.B. dead, and I don't give one damn about his 'due process'. Osama, though, is clearly a man on the run, and in hiding...his role now is as a figurehead to inspire other Islamic fanatics in their struggles against the infidel.
The notion that we are recruiting more terrorists through our actions in Iraq is counterintuitive: how so? By attempting to protect the populace? By removing a ruthless dictator? By trying to maintain security and restore essential services? By giving the Iraqis a chance to govern themselves? No, these people would have been terrorists, anyway.
Who comprises the insurgency? Remnants of Saddam's corrupt Bathist regime, yes, but mostly foreign fighters coming over the border from Syria, I wager. And this is, I think, what is meant by the flypaper strategy, as badly articulated as it has been: in a very real way, we have flushed many of these people out of hiding, away from sleeper cells and into the open. The results have been lethal: despressingly so. That lethality was always there, though, and a trained soldier in a war zone has a better chance of withstanding its force than an unsuspecting civilian.
Alas, my theory is far from perfect; there is the matter of the deadly toll on the Iraqi civilians, and it is large and heartbreaking. That we have failed to provide a safer, more secure environment this far into the war is indeed a failure, and the Iraqis and the Americans deserve better. But let's seperate the London attacks from this, and turn Arianna's thought upside down...there is no reason to think that in the absence of the Iraq War, these attacks would not have happened. The attacks are not an argument against the mission in Iraq; they are a reminder that we need to redouble our efforts to succeed, there and elsewhere.