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Killing Terrorists Makes Less Terrorists By: Alan Nathan
Washington (D.C.) Examiner | Monday, October 02, 2006

War opponents are cheerfully heralding the National Intelligence Council’s national intelligence estimate that portrays our war in Iraq as the catalyst for increasing terrorist volunteers.

Completed in April but recently cited in the New York Times, the NIE reportedly assesses that we’re creating more terrorists by fighting them. Apparently, the alternative strategy is hoping that the enemy will surrender to the relentless blows of our acquiescence.

Central to their alleged analysis is that Iraq has become a pivotal tool for attracting fanatical jihadists in numbers so vast and diverse as to present an agility that’s quite beyond our scope of competence.

Given that their 2002 report on Iraq wrongly but confidently warned of Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction and ongoing nuclear program, why is there no cause for pause in response to the NIE’s latest rationale?

Assuming the full report bears out the media’s portrayal of it thus far, one wonders about its value as a guide. Yes, Iraq has been used to generate terrorist support against the U.S. — thank you, NIE, for sharing your report’s vice-like grip of the obvious. Now please tell us how that’s illustrative of why we shouldn’t be there.

The enemy’s accelerated recruitment is the natural by-product of its resistance, so what on Earth is the point behind this finding and why does it provide comfort to antiwar advocates? Never in our history has the enemy’s resistance become the self-serving justification for our not stepping up the war against them.

By that standard, bad-acting forces would have license to attack with impunity. “Don’t attack your attackers because they might again attack” isn’t much of a winning tactic.

America has had only two reasons for putting an end to its fighting in one location or another: winning, or no longer believing in the effort. Standing down because of the enemy’s predictable opposition and its equally foreseeable increase of fighters isn’t worth the pathetic prize of angering a few less jihadists.

According to the New York Times, unnamed counter-terrorism officials associated with this report have asserted that we’re preoccupied more with combating terrorists than with how they’re created — suggesting that the emphasis should be reversed. This school of thought seems incredibly counterintuitive because it forgets that no one has control over the power of someone else’s ingrained delusion. We have consistently vanquished the ideologies of past enemies’ only after definitively and unambiguously crushing the mechanisms that would otherwise give them continued hope for victory. It would seem that the NIC’s account could have been a more scholarly summation — again, assuming that the news industry’s presentation is loyal to what the NIE truly conveyed.

What’s additionally infuriating about the report’s supposed stance is its blind allegiance to the position that battlefronts should be chosen in a fashion not so objectionable to the enemy. Whatever angers the fanatical jihadists most should be done more often not less because that very result usually exposes what they perceive as their greatest weakness — that just goes to the nature of humans.

The press characterizes the NIE account as indirectly backing the war opponents’ view that Afghanistan is where the real fight against terrorists exists — as if the jihadists feel confined by a nation’s boarders. Just like a fence can never restrict poisonous smoke billowing over a neighbor’s yard, terrorists too are not limited to geographical boundaries.

CNN reported that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said, “Press reports say our nation’s intelligence services have confirmed that President Bush’s repeated missteps in Iraq and his stubborn refusal to change course have made America less safe.”

The chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, surmised that the report shows how the war in Iraq has not only proved more dangerous for our troops but also has “made the war on terror more dangerous for every American.”

All of these maladroit insights exist because we’ve allowed whatever might be the terrorists’s “rallying cry” to become the measure of what we should or should not do. However, this formula permits the enemy to manipulate us away from their greater vulnerabilities and, by consequence, truly does endanger both our troops and citizens. Who wins a war by letting the other side set the terms?

Compounding the confusion is the controversy over whether or not Iraq is even part of the war on terror. Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean and other antiwar advocates are fond of saying that the effort is detracting resources from the battle against al-Qaeda. Yet, these same voices so eager to champion the NIE’s analysis also wish to ignore some of its other parts — such a bin Ladin’s repeated contention that Iraq is the main battleground in their war against the West.

It makes you wonder. How are we on the wrong front if the enemy calls it the central front?

Alan Nathan, a combative centrist and "militant moderate," a columnist, and the nationally syndicated talk show host of "Battle Line With Alan Nathan" on the Radio America Network.

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