Jay Reding.com

4000 Good Terrorists

…as in 4000 dead terrorists according to an audiotape from the current leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. That’s the approximate number of foreign jihadis who have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of the war — and that’s probably on the low side of the spectrum.

Even al-Qaeda does not have finite resources. It takes money, time, and effort to train someone to become an effective terrorist — and the more resources that are spend in Iraq the fewer resources that can be freed for operations elsewhere, such as the United States or Europe. 4,000 dead terrorists means that there are 4,000 fewer trained terrorists out there who would otherwise be plotting operations worldwide.

That’s why the whole idea of Iraq being a training ground for terrorism due to the war never struck me as particularly convincing. It’s hard to train an effective military cadre when the leaders of that cadre keep getting blown up by US bombs. The most dangerous job in the world seems to be an al-Qaeda leader in Iraq right now — pretty much all of al-Zarqawi’s inner circle have been killed or captured. Even al-Zarqawi himself has been killed.

Iraq is a training ground, but it is a training ground for us in the art of counterinsurgency, nation-building, and 21st Century warfare. Al-Qaeda’s losing more resources in Iraq while we’re developing a military that is better equipped and trained to deal with the sort of situations that we’ll be seeing in future military conflicts for decades to come. Al-Qaeda may believe that asymmetric warfare is the wave of the future, but even with their advantages the deck remains so far stacked against them that the only way they can win is not on the battlefield, but through manipulating public opinion against our forces.

7 responses to “4000 Good Terrorists”

  1. Justin says:

    “That’s why the whole idea of Iraq being a training ground for terrorism due to the war never struck me as particularly convincing. It’s hard to train an effective military cadre when the leaders of that cadre keep getting blown up by US bombs. ”

    Nice strawman. Of course, what you apparently missed is that the assertion is that Iraq is a breeding ground for terrorists; that is, an ongoing outrage that convinces more and more moderates that, in fact, the US is not a force for good in the world, but a rampaging power that must be stopped at all costs.

    Nobody that I’m aware of has asserted that Iraq is where terrorists go to train – except, of course, for the Bush Administration.

    “Iraq is a training ground, but it is a training ground for us in the art of counterinsurgency, nation-building, and 21st Century warfare.”

    Funny – I thought conservatives were supposed to be opposed to “Outcome-based education.”

  2. Justin says:

    Oh, by the way, from the Fundamentalist Christian Violence files:

    Christian assaults gay marriage supporters in public restaurant

  3. Jay Reding says:

    Nice strawman. Of course, what you apparently missed is that the assertion is that Iraq is a breeding ground for terrorists; that is, an ongoing outrage that convinces more and more moderates that, in fact, the US is not a force for good in the world, but a rampaging power that must be stopped at all costs.

    Which makes Muslims look awfully stupid, doesn’t it? The violence in Iraq is focused more and more on other Muslims rather than on US forces. The idea that a truly moderate Muslim would see the situation in Iraq and conclude that it’s all the fault of the US seems to diminish them as rational actors. The vast majority of violence in Iraq isn’t directed against us, it’s directed at other Muslims, which is why I rather doubt that Iraq is creating any more terrorists, but is exposing the violent fanatics who have always been there –and who, per the NIE, provoked by much more than merely the war in Iraq.

  4. Justin says:

    The violence in Iraq is focused more and more on other Muslims rather than on US forces.

    My guess is that the jihadists don’t really play that part up, genius. Do you think that maybe, just maybe, they have some kind of rationalization for how killing Muslim “collaborators” isn’t a bad thing?

    Don’t forget, too, that it’s as easy to assert that a Sunni or a Shiite isn’t a “real” Muslim as it was for you to make the same claim about Christians in another thread. I highly doubt the jihadists see the 7000 sectarian murders in Iraq in the past month to be genuine dead Muslims.

    The vast majority of violence in Iraq isn’t directed against us, it’s directed at other Muslims, which is why I rather doubt that Iraq is creating any more terrorists, but is exposing the violent fanatics who have always been there

    And who were completely and totally contained by Saddam until the US invasion. (Kind of odd, actually, that so many murderous fanatics would, for no reason, have congregated in the same place and not have burned everything down. The timing of their totally-unrelated-to-the-US-invasion change of attitude is pretty amazing, isn’t it?)

    Hey, I’m just telling you how they might view the issue. If I pull out a prop and the wall falls down, certainly the violence done to the floor was done by the wall and not by my hand; but I’m still responsible for pulling the prop.

    You still haven’t substantiated your original assertion, of course. I’d like to see one single example from the left asserting that Iraq has become a training ground for terrorists – that is, literally a location where terrorists go to train to fight elsewhere. The only person I heard make that argument was Donald Rumsfeld, and he used it as a reason for the war. So I simply don’t understand your position, here. Are you saying Rumsfeld is wrong?

    As to Iraq being our training ground, exactly how long do we have to see “stay the course” fail to “pass the test” before we conclude the lessons aren’t being learned?

  5. Mark says:

    “That’s why the whole idea of Iraq being a training ground for terrorism due to the war never struck me as particularly convincing.”

    The professional foreign policy analysts who constructed the NIE report suggesting that Iraq is a training ground for terrorism seem to have been convinced. But if Jay Reding is unconvinced, then the jury is definitely still out!

  6. Justin says:

    I don’t get it, Jay.

    Do you just not expect people to read the things you link, or what?

    Do me a favor and quote from that letter exactly where it says “please release the full NIE immediately without review to preserve security.” I can’t find it. I simply see a request for hearings on the topics covered by the portions of the NIE we already have.