Will the war in Iraq lead to reduced terrorism?

Daniel Pipes argues that it will, for the following reasons:

Is Pipes right about the impact of the Iraq war?

At best the war in Iraq will likely have no effect on the level of terrorism in the world. If we assume that ever single point mentioned in the cited article were true, simple demographics suggest that some folks that weren’t terroristic before the war will likely become so. I suppose you might get some offset in the number of likely Iraqi terrorists that will be killed by the war, but by and large the war is going to disenfranchise the membership of the Baath party, which I believe will create a group of ready willing and able terrorists.

Terrorists don’t need large numbers to operate. More is better for them I suppose and I feel that this war will create more terrorists than it will subdue. Even if the war has zero effect on the amount of terrorism, or even reduces the total amount of terrorism, it is likely to make the US and its citizens, allies, and interests around the world that much more likely to be targeted, i.e. I feel that terrorists will likely go out of their way to attack the US in a way that might not have happened before the war.


The OP is how we might wish reasonable people to view US/UK actions: in the best possible light, through rose-tinted spectacles.

No matter what happens to Iraq after the war, the bottom line is that two Western countries have invaded and taken control of an Arab country.

No matter how Blair & Bush justify the intervention, there will be those who see it as a hegemonic tantrum before an election.

No matter how well the occupying forces conduct themselves, there will be those who see Israeli oppression every time they police a riot.

No matter how few the civilian casulaties, there will be those who compare the number to that of the 9/11 victims and see vengeance rather than restraint.

No matter how much respect is shown towards Islam, there will be those who see a Western force occupying the third most holy site in the Muslim world and think their presence sacriligeous.

No matter how much investment US firms make in good faith, there will be those who see the minions of the Great Satan bleeding an Arab state dry.
I believe careful, patient and sincere diplomacy on the part of the current US administration could have garnered support for almost any US military action anywhere from the rest of the world , and perhaps even much of the Arab world if handled with enough capable and earnest attention. The rush to war was myopic. Its consequences remain to be seen.
This post should not in any way be taken as supporting militancy or terrorism in the Arab world.

But if one cries war, one should not be surprised if the echo returns “jihad”.

I also have to wonder how few casualties there are at this point as the red cross reports the hospitals being inundated with casualties.

In Baghdad they are not receiving the excellent care and the medical supplies are pretty limited what with Years of sanctions and embargos. I’m not sure that those who lose loved ones will be happywith their liberators

Regardless of the number of civilian casualties, there must be an enormous number of military casualties. Those are more justifiable, but, as you say, these Iraqi soldiers had friends and families who care about them.

As long as there are idiot radicals with a kitchen sink and a few chemicals- there will be terrorists. Nothing will stop this. But, if we knock out all the state supported terrorism, then terrorism will decline, and terrorists will become less effective.

And do not be decieved by those who point out that the Late Saddam Hussain’s support of Al Quada is tenuous. There are many more islamic terrorist orgs in the world, and SH supported several, including Hamas. Afganistan, and now Iraq will show that it is far too dangerous for a State to support terrorism. Thus, there will be less effective terrorism, at least.

Sentientmeat: "But if one cries war, one should not be surprised if the echo returns “jihad”. The Jihad has already been called, years ago, so the reverse is equally fair- “If one cries Jihad, one should not be surprised if the echo returns War.”

Check out http://www.indict.org.uk .

There are very few families out there who have not lost loved ones to Saddam either directly from his terrorism of his own people or indirectly as a result of his wars of conquest. The few civilian casualties in this war will pale in comparison, and will ultimately result in fewer Iraqis losing their life thatn if Saddam had stayed.

Since there is very little evidence that Iraq had much to do with international terrorism BEFORE the war, why would we expect a substantial reduction in terrorism afterwards? Surely I am not the only one who remembers that the 9/11 terrorists were mostly from Saudi Arabia, directed from leaders in Afghanistan, with key directors in places like Yemen and Egypt?

There will still be a core group of terrorist existing probably forever.

The only thing I can see this war effecting is the support and protection that these terrorist groups get from the peoples of the Middle East.

If the Iraq war ends right we may see a larger group of arabs who are helpful to anti-terrorism. It sometimes only takes one person to come forward with information that breaks open a terrorist cell.

The next challenge will be against the intrenched protection from arabs citizens, for some reason they feel the need to protect terrorists because for them it is in a way patriotic.

If they have a democratic voice that is heard, like what we hope comes out of Iraq soon, then perhaps they will find them supporting their govenerment instead of these groups of terror.

Pipes is spouting hopes and outright fantasies. If he’d been trying to answer the question “What effect will the war and its aftermath have on world terrorism?” and based his analysis on facts and history and psychology, how likely does december think it that he’d reach the answer he wanted and quoted?

One bit of history included in Pipes’s article is that terrorism declined after the Afghanistan conflict. At least, he says it did.

This raises the question of just how we can measure the growth or shrinkage of terrorism. Terrorist attacks against the US and coalition countries haven’t been that frequent, so if we go a few months without one, what will that mean? I suppose it might be easier to see whether terrorism against Israel declines. They have the “benefit” of a large statistical sample of terrorist attacks.

Afghanistan isn’t history yet, december. I would also point out that Afghanistan didn’t even make the State Department’s list of terrorist-sponsoring nations, probably because it wasn’t considered to be a coherent nation.

By Dr Deth’s reasoning, Iran, Lybia, The Sudan, Syria, and Cuba are next on the list, unless they suddenly wake up and decide to stop supporting terrorism altogether. Who knows? It looks like Libya stood down after 9/11.

But on the other hand, the best way for standing dominos to avoid being toppled is to stand closely together. Pan-Arab, perhaps pan-Islamic, nationalism seems to be the logical response to the American plan for benevolent domination.

I doubt Mr. Wolfowitz wants that to happen, either.

[ul][li]Iraqi gratitude. …Watching the gratitude of liberated Iraqis will undercut the Muslim sense of outrage that this war harmed the Iraqi population.[/ul]We’ll wait and see if these “happy Iraqis” get airtime on the stations that most Muslims follow(hint, it ain’t CNN) We’ll also have to wait and see what the attitude of the civilians in Bhagdad is after it finally falls. Liberating the Shiite southern population is more likely to produce cheers than liberating the Sunni population(who hadn’t suffered as much at the hands of Hussein as the Shiites and Kurds).[ul][]Casualties. The relatively small number of civilian casualties, and their excellent care from the allies, will diminish the rage about Iraqis paying too high a price for their freedom.[/ul]Well, the word “relatively” here may prove to be very ironic. We’ll have to wait and see how the final casualty numbers turn out and how the relatives of those slain, both as combatants and noncombatants, react to being told “Hey! at least we didn’t kill your whole family!” There were not a large number(relatively) of casualties in Desert Storm either(20,000 military 13,000 civilian casualties IIRC), but the destroyed infrastructure(bridges, etc) and the difficulty of getting health care/food due to sanctions and other factors reportedly cost 100,000 more lives. Reconstruction has to be fast and effective to stop people from being reminded of the times just a decade ago when their children were starving after a US-led attack.[ul][]Islam. Respecting Iraqi ways, especially religion, will reduce apprehensions about the war being a crusade.[/ul]Gotta prove to me that the US will do this. I agree that respect for Islam would help a lot, but this is assuming a “best case” outcome. I’ve seen very little which makes me believe that most in the Administration actually even understand Islam, let alone respect it.[ul][]Oil. …But when a new Iraqi government takes charge of its oil resources, this canard [that the US wants to control Iraq’s oil] will die.[/ul]IF a new Iraqi government, one the Iraqi people identify with instead of considering it a government imposed on them and percieve as a puppet of the US, takes charge of Iraq’s oil resources. Gotta have those caveats, otherwise you’re just assuming.[ul][]Imperialism. The alacrity with which the allies remove themselves from controlling Iraq will assuage fears of it becoming part of a US empire.[/ul]Again, assuming the allies WILL remove themselves with alacrity. This has not yet happened, so it is speculation on how the Iraqi people will react to it. After Desert Storm there were uprisings by the Kurds and the Shiites. US withdrawl also removed support from these groups and they were ruthlessly dealt with by Hussein. We don’t know what post-war Iraq will be like. Perhaps Shiite and Sunni will be at each other’s throat and we’ll have to keep peacekeeping forces there. Or perhaps the Kurds will make a bid for an independent state and cause a uprising that threatens to fracture the country. Immediate withdrawl may not be possible without causing more damage than leaving our forces there. In any event it is not a clear-cut situation as Pipes [ul]Strong horse. … An allied victory will establish who the strong horse is, diminishing the ardour of its enemies to fight.[/ul]Well, unless that horse is standing/stamping on the throats of the Iraqi people’s loved ones. In that case they’re just an imperialistic bully who may be a strong horse, but will draw lots of flies(ie suicide bombers/terrorist attacks).[/li]

From other articles, I have an impression that Syrian and Iran may well be next on the list. It appears that some in the administration are hoping that the Iranis will replace their religious government. Syria has been thwarting the US. AFAIK they don’t have anything like the army Iraq did, but I do not expect military means to be used against them, either. However, I do expect the US to do something, perhaps economic, to try to get Syria to behave.

Here are a couple of relevent cites. If the US gets credit for this, it should help.

OTOH there’s this article from the Arab News

AFAIK this article is a lie, but if readers believe it, it will drum up anti-American feelings. BTW I heard something about the US starting up some sort of Arab language TV or radio station in the Middle East, but I cannot remember any details. It sounds like a good idea.

I was not trying to say that more people have died in this war than would have if the pre war satus quo remained or that have died under the regieme.

I also wonder what is meant by “a few” Is that 20 people? One hundred? One thousand? How many casualties are acceptable by a people?

One would hope so, and in the immediate aftermath, this will likely be true. However, a cursory glance at world history tells us that this is a hit or miss proposition. Bangladesh won its independence because of Indian intervention, and presumably something akin to a genocide was taking place that the Indians put a stop to. Yet since then, the relationship between the two countries has been at times strained, rocky, distrustful, and bordering on war. Liberating people is in and of itself not a guarantee that they will be your best friend for life.

Hopefully, but it invariably with two cultures so different, some of the US soldiers are going to be offending Iraqi sensibilities. It could go either way, and we’ll only know in the aftermath.

This, I think is a complete misread on the perception of Western involvement in the Middle East from a historical context. Western powers (first with Europe and then with the US) have typically inserted themselves into Middle Eastern politics, established a government to their liking, and then withdrawn. How this war would be perceived any differently in the immediate aftermath is beyond me. Perhaps 20 years from now, people would look back and think that this war was different, but why should they think so anytime soon? Even if the coalition withdraws all its forces quickly, it has the appearance of being business as usual.

IMO, it is precisely the “Strong horse” that people use terrorism against. Is there any rational person who seriously questions US millitary superiority in this day and age? The US has clearly been the dominant millitary power in the world for the past 20 years. The war in Afghanistan and this current Iraqi war have only served to reinforce an already well-known fact, not create proof that the US is powerful. I don’t understand this one at all.

Oil. …But when a new Iraqi government takes charge of its oil resources, this canard [that the US wants to control Iraq’s oil] will die.


Well, maybe. The wave of Arab nationalization of oil companies in the 70s was for what purpose? Because it was perceived that Western oil companies were exploiting the natural resources of Arab countries and because it made good politics. Now, it seems that the Western oil companies are going back into Iraq, so how is this going to be different?

You make some good points, BrightNShiny. Regarding the above, there is a belief that terrorists doubted whether the US had the will to use its power. In retrospect, our reactions to earlier terrorist attacks were feeble. Our (and the UN’s) reaction to Iraq’s flagrant non-compliance was dismal. So, an easy and total victory in Iraq, which includes wiping out Saddam and his henchmen, could be a salutory example. At least, that’s the theory.

You should read all the posts before you write in. SH was a major supporter of International terrorism long before the war. He directly supported Hamas, among other groups. True, his connection with Al Quada & Bin Laden is tenuous, but there are a lot more Islamic terrorists out there besides that crew.

Sofa King. Right-o. However, note that until & unless they or dudes they support attack US, I am against this sort of invasion. There are other ways to get results besides an actual invasion, though. I was 100% behind the attack on the Taliban, note, but do not support this current invasion of Iraq.

Saddam claimed he could beat us, and others believed him. I guess you can say none of them are “rational”, but this will erase all doubt of the USA having both the will & the power to do so. If I was an Islamic Dictator who supported terrorism, I’d be hustling those dudes out of my borders pronto like, and cutting off the flow of cash, too. Of course, I’d still call the USA the “great Satan” and VOICE my solidarity, but I wouldn’t openly support it with anything real, either.

I’ll bet a nickle that those members of the Saudi power structure who have been sending monetary support for terrorism will stop writing checks real damn quick. Saudi has even more oil, and wouldn’t even be able to put up the sort of feeble fight that Iraq has. I’d be watching my “Ps&Qs” ya betcha.

Not yet it hasn’t - three weeks in and Basra is still fighting back, hard. Side note - why is that a British operation? Could it be that the planners know the southern Shiites, after 1991, have strong reason to distrust anyone named George Bush or Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney? If Bush and Blair thought the southerners might put on a more telegenic show for their “liberation” parade if there weren’t any American flags around, so far they look more like they’re resisting an invader.