Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fighting for vague reasons

With no clear definition of victory for an undetermined amount of time for people who hate us. Sounds like a plan!

Let's start with some poll numbers presented at the Doha conference by Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland professor and a fellow of the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, which co-sponsored the conference with the Qatari foreign ministry. The polling was done last year by Zogby International in six countries that are usually regarded as pro-American: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In these six "friendly" countries, only 12 percent of those surveyed expressed favorable attitudes toward the United States. America's leaders have surpassed Israel's as objects of anger. Asked which foreign leader they disliked most, 38 percent named George Bush; Ariel Sharon was a distant second at 11 percent; and Ehud Olmert was third with 7 percent.

The poll data show a deep suspicion of American motives: 65 percent of those surveyed said they didn't think democracy was a real U.S. objective in the Middle East. Asked to name two countries that had the most freedom and democracy, only 14 percent said America, putting it far behind France and Germany. And remember, folks, this is coming from our friends.

Peter Bergen is a print and television journalist, and the author of Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden (Free Press, 2001), which has been translated into 18 languages. A television documentary based on the book was nominated for an Emmy in 2002. The Washington Post, in reviewing his new book, The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al Qaeda’s Leader (Free Press, 2006), called it “a detailed, well-researched narrative that persuasively answers dozens of questions that are still painfully relevant today.” Mr. Bergen is CNN’s terrorism analyst and an adjunct professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune, Foreign Affairs, Rolling Stone, Washington Monthly, The Nation, The Times (UK), The Daily Telegraph (UK), The Guardian (UK), The Sunday Times (UK), and Prospect (UK). He is a member of the editorial board of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism and has testified on Capitol Hill. Mr. Bergen holds a B.A. in modern history from New College, Oxford University.

Peter Bergen writes at his web site:
As the security situation in Iraq has deteriorated, President Bush has depicted the war in Iraq as crucial to the wider war on terrorism. He claims that terrorists who otherwise "would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders" are being drawn to Iraq and defeated there, like moths to a flame.

And when faced with the question of whether more terrorists are being created worldwide than are being killed in Iraq, administration officials have ducked. "There are not good metrics," declared former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last year.

Today, drawing on data from the comprehensive terrorism database maintained by the Rand Corp. and the Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for thePrevention of Terrorism, we release a study that for the first time examines the metrics - andyields a resounding finding: The rate of fatal terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups, and the number of civilians killed in those attacks, has risen sharply since the invasion of Iraq. Comparing the period before the war (Sept. 12, 2001, to March 20, 2003) and the period since, there has been a 607% rise in the average yearly incidence ofattacks - and a 237% jump inthe fatality rate.

Moths to a flame? Hardly. Rather, the Iraq war is a flame that has helped ignite global jihad.

And he ends up by warning us:
Yes, few American civilians have been killed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But it is naive to believe that this will continue to be the case. The evidence shows the war has damaged America's global efforts to defeat Al Qaeda.
Mother Jones offers a graph and a 101 course in understanding the complexities of Iraq:

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Fatal Jihadist attacks from 2002 to 2006. Think you can tell when our invasion of Iraq occurred?

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