The War: US=Britain 1940?

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by Annie, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pdupont/?id=110007009
    From a NYT op-ed, now paid subscription only. I disagree with the 'cause' Professor Pape arrives at, but not his analysis or the 'proof' of the documents found laying out Al Queda strategy:

    EDITORIAL DESK | July 9, 2005, Saturday

    Al Qaeda's Smart Bombs

    By ROBERT A. PAPE (NYT) Op-Ed 889 words
    Late Edition - Final , Section A , Page 13 , Column 1

    While we don't yet know who organized the terrorist attacks in London on Thursday, it seems likely that they were the latest in a series of bombings, most of them suicide attacks, over the past several years by Al Qaeda and its supporters. Although many Americans had hoped that Al Qaeda has been badly weakened by American counterterrorism efforts since Sept. 11, 2001, the facts indicate otherwise. Since 2002, Al Qaeda has been involved in at least 17 bombings that killed more than 700 people - more attacks and victims than in all the years before 9/11 combined.

    To make sense of this campaign, I compiled data on the 71 terrorists who killed themselves between 1995 and 2004 in carrying out attacks sponsored by Osama bin Laden's network. I was able to collect the names, nationalities and detailed demographic information on 67 of these bombers, data that provides insight into the underlying causes of Al Qaeda's suicide terrorism and how the group's strategy has evolved since 2001.

    Most important, the figures show that Al Qaeda is today less a product of Islamic fundamentalism than of a simple strategic goal: to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries.

    As the chart on bottom shows, the overwhelming majority of attackers are citizens of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries in which the United States has stationed combat troops since 1990. Of the other suicide terrorists, most came from America's closest allies in the Muslim world - Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia and Morocco - rather than from those the State Department considers "state sponsors of terrorism" like Iran, Libya, Sudan and Iraq. Afghanistan produced Qaeda suicide terrorists only after the American-led invasion of the country in 2001. The clear implication is that if Al Qaeda was no longer able to draw recruits from the Muslim countries where there is a heavy American combat presence, it might well collapse.

    As the top chart shows, what is common among the attacks is not their location but the identity of the victims killed. Since 2002, the group has killed citizens from 18 of the 20 countries that Osama bin Laden has cited as supporting the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    There is good evidence that this shift in Al Qaeda's scheme was the product of deliberate choice. In December 2003, the Norwegian intelligence service found a lengthy Qaeda planning document on a radical Islamic Web site that described a coherent strategy for compelling the United States and its allies to leave Iraq. It made clear that more spectacular attacks against the United States like those of 9/11 would be insufficient, and that it would be more effective to attack America's European allies, thus coercing them to withdraw their forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and increasing the economic and military burdens that the United States would have to bear.

    In particular, the document weighed the advantages of attacking Britain, Poland and Spain, and concluded that Spain in particular, because of the high level of domestic opposition to the Iraq war, was the most vulnerable.

    "It is necessary to make utmost use of the upcoming general election in Spain in March next year," the document stated. "We think that the Spanish government could not tolerate more than two, maximum three, blows, after which it will have to withdraw as a result of popular pressure. If its troops still remain in Iraq after these blows, then the victory of the Socialist Party is almost secured, and the withdrawal of the Spanish forces will be on its electoral program."

    That prediction, of course, proved murderously prescient. Yet it was only one step in the plan: "Lastly, we emphasize that a withdrawal of the Spanish or Italian forces from Iraq would put huge pressure on the British presence, a pressure that Tony Blair might not be able to withstand, and hence the domino tiles would fall quickly."

    No matter who took the bombs onto those buses and subways in London, the attacks are clearly of a piece with Al Qaeda's post-9/11 strategy. And while we don't know if the claim of responsibility from a group calling itself the Secret Organization of Al Qaeda in Europe was legitimate, an understanding of Al Qaeda's strategic logic may help explain why that message included a threat of further attacks against Italy and Denmark, both of which contributed troops in Iraq.

    The bottom line, then, is that the terrorists have not been fundamentally weakened but have changed course and achieved significant success. The London attacks will only encourage Osama bin Laden and other Qaeda leaders in the belief that they will succeed in their ultimate aim: causing America and its allies to withdraw forces from the Muslim world.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/09/opinion/09pape.html
     

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