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Posted by on Jul 8, 2005 in At TMV | 0 comments

London Bombing Sparks Controversy Over Terrorism Flypaper Theory

The brutal and tragic bombings in London yesterday immediately spawned a controversy — over President George Bush’s so-called “flypaper” theory as the surface unity in the U.S was marked by partisan passions erupting on both sides.

Two prominent weblogs blasted the Bush administration for its approach — and ignited a mini firestorm.

The Daily Kos wrote in part:

Bush’s latest rationale for maintaining the course in Iraq adventure has been the “flypaper strategy” — it’s better to fight the terrorists over there than at home. Nevermind that the Iraqis never asked to have their country turned into a dangerous den of terrorism, insurgency, violence and death. For war supporters looking for an excuse, any excuse, to justify the continued disastrous American presence in Iraq, the flypaper rationale was as good as any.

Except that it’s not working. The war isn’t making the West any safer. In fact, it’s creating a whole new class of terrorists. Today it was London. Next time it could easily be the United States. And waging the war in Iraq, rather than make us safer, is further motivating Islamic terrorists to strike at the West.

Kos argued that the U.S. was taking its eye off the real problem by being in Iraq. And Arianna Huffington agreed:

The attacks in London proved how absurd this either/or logic is when fighting this kind of hydra-headed enemy.

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?

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.

The problem with both of these analyses, if you totally divorce yourself from left or right thinking is this: there really is no proof that the bombs in London would not have gone off if the U.S. was now out of Iraq.

And even if terrorists are gaining recruits in Iraq, if the U.S. wasn’t in Iraq they would likely get their recruits elsewhere since the Al Qaeda philsophy reportedly appeals to some Muslim youths for reasons apart from the Iraq war. That’s why it has grown so much over the years.

It’s highly doubtful that if the U.S. wasn’t now in Iraq that Osama bin Laden would today be out of his mass-murderer day job, standing behind a counter, wearing a bright cap, asking: “Do you want fries with that?”

One of the most interesting answers to this theory comes from Matt Sheffield. Read his ENTIRE POST HERE. A small taste 4 U:

In the end, I don’t think there was any strategic outcome post 9/11 that wouldn’t have sucked. Bush (or Gore or Kerry) would have had severe problems with any of their foreign policy strategies. Sadly, very few people on either side are willing to admit this. Instead, we’ve had a massively useless debate about water under the bridge. Part of the blame for this rests on war supporters but the bulk of it rests with opponents.

I’ll end with two more questions, one for war supporters and one for war opponents. To the supporters: Aren’t international terrorists smart enough to fight a multi-front war? To opponents: Do you really think Al Gore or John Kerry wouldn’t be making the flypaper argument were they in charge?

Meanwhile, Dean Esmay writes that his wife predicted Bush would be blamed and blasts another post on Kos and that website in general.

Like You Really Care
dissects the Kos flypaper post and warns colleagues on the left:

Even if we focused our forces in Afghanistan like we should have, events like the Bali bombing and today’s London bombings could still have occurred. Terrorists are dangerous, zealous idealogues who don’t need an invasion in Iraq to fashion a reason to plant bombs in a subway. Let’s not fall into the same rhetoric as our conservative counterparts to aggrandize the enemy and become just as jingoistic, and let’s not manufacture reasons to oppose the war in Iraq based on conjecture. There are plenty of reasons to oppose it that are the honest-to-God truth.

Cadillac Tight blog blasted Kos. Here’s part of it:

That’s his reaction to the London bombings. Excuse the terrorists, blame it on the president….This is what the terrorists want. Given what happened in Spain, they are hoping that the British citizenry will react with the same mindset, blame Tony Blair for the bombings, and get Labor to put someone else in the hot seat who will remove British troops from Iraq. And here’s Kos, furthering such an inane argument.

Our view? TMV has supported the war in Iraq and the successful completition of our mission there. But war supporters have used that argument about Iraq bogging down the terrorists. And war opponents have suggested that Iraq is not rife with as many terrorists as the administration has suggested.

But people have known for years that Al Qaeda is sort of like a big corporate terrorism entity with all these little franchises in different countries — countries all over the world. A major book details Al Qaeda’s spin off groups’ growth. Many articles quoting experts have said since 911 that the terorrists wanted to hit London. So in reality terrorist forces have not been totally bogged down in Iraq.

On the other hand, it is a fact that Iraq is indeed bursting with Al Qaeda members and other sympathizers, many of them from other countries (who have clashed with local “insurgents”). They want to sabatoge the young democracy, hit the U.S. as hard as they possibly can, and bog down the U.S. So there ARE terrorists forces in Iraq who probably would be elsewhere if U.S. forces weren’t there.

In other words: the “flypaper” does have some holes — on both sides.

FOOTNOTE: TMV yesterday got to watch extensive cable news and listen to nearly 6 hours of right and left wing talk radio. He is struck by how bitterly partisan the reaction of many callers on both sides have been to the London bombings. Each side is passionate. But the issue of those terrible deaths in London almost seemed superceeded by the need to immediately boot this event into the political realm.

On the official level, Democratic and Republican bigwigs came together on the bombing — as they did in the aftermath of 911. The skirmishing was taking place under that elite level. What this portends: a sign that perhaps the U.S. may never again be as united as it was in the immediate aftermath of 911 — even if (God forbid) there is another 911.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing has a MUST READ post on this issue. It’s a long one and worth the time for anyone of any political position who’s interested in this issue. Here’s a very small part:

I didn’t originate the term “flypaper strategy,â€? of course, but I have used it frequently. I want to spend some time walking back the cat here because Kos’s criticism isn’t justified for a perhaps-surprising reason: the “flypaper strategyâ€? was never a strategy of the Bush administration. What Bush & Co. should be criticized for is failing to foresee that Iraq would be like flypaper to al Qaeda terrorists….The earliest use of “flypaperâ€? in this sense was by Canadian journalist David Warren on July 5, 2003 in an essay entitled, well, “Flypaper.â€?….

In fact, the London bombings neither confirm nor disprove the efficacy of the “flypaper strategy� concept. The administration didn’t intend such a strategy in the first place and only adopted it late in the game after it became evident that Iraq was indeed proving a magnet for al Qaeda. But no administration member has ever claimed that fighting al Qaeda in Iraq would ironclad guarantee there would be no al Qaeda terrorism in Europe or America. Such a criticism is nought but a straw man Bush’s opponents set up and knock down to serve their own purposes. They have confused outsider analysis by people such as Warren, Bay, Andrew Sullivan and many others including me as enunciations of official administration policy. But it has never been the intentional policy of the administration until very recently, if indeed it it now is at all.


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