Excuse me while I pick up my jaw

Most suicide bombers in Iraq are foreigners

I’ve been watching this trend for a month or so. Not the trend of suicide bombers in Iraq being foreign, but the trend to note such things. It will probably go on for a little while longer, then mysteriously disappear. At that point we will begin hearing about how normal, everyday Iraqis are taking up arms and fighting the infidel occupiers. The cycle seems to go back and forth between natives and foreigners and, to be honest, I can’t see any rhyme or reason to it. More significant than the headline, to me at least, is this:

The key role of foreign fighters in suicide attacks is one reason many senior military officials, including the top U.S. general in the Middle East, tend to view the war in Iraq as slowly developing into an international struggle against militant Islam.

To be honest, I’m flabbergasted that this sentence made it into a Legacy Media story.

This sentence sums up what I think this war has been about for the past twenty-five years. It claims that the senior military officials think it’s “slowly developing” into this, and of course we can bicker about when the war really started. But I think this has been the strategy from day one. From before day one, really, if you want to call 9/11 ‘day one’.

This war is not just about 9/11, not just about WMD, or not just about bringing democracy to broken lands. This war is about defeating the medieval forces, whether they are state governments or loose networks of terrorists, that threaten everyone on the planet. 9/11 was a harsh wake-up call to those who didn’t want to see the threat. WMDs are a horrific weapon that must be strictly controlled. And democracy is the weapon that we’re using to attack the root of the problem.

Direct action, either military or covert, against the jihadist leadership and their terrorist minions is a holding action at best. But you don’t react to a burning house by changing building codes or installing more smoke detectors. You send in the firefighters to save the occupants and extinguish the flames. Then you find out why the fire started and make adjustments.

You need to live until tomorrow to set a lifetime plan into motion.

One thing that this underscores is the whole Islamic Civil War theory. The Fourth World War (as I call it) isn’t so much West against Islam or Anglosphere against Jihadists as it is 21st Century against 11th Century. It just so happens that many on the 21st Century side are Western Anglophiles and many on the 11th Century side are Islamic Jihadists.

This war is a War of Ideas to a far greater extent than other world wars, and those that subscribe to the ideas that freedom and equality matter are fighting those that do not.

For the past two years the brunt of the military battle has been shouldered by the USA-UK-Australia Anglosphere and the Poles, supported by many other nations to greater or lesser extents. As times and situations change, so will the batting order. Lately, a hot new young prospect has been called up from the minor leagues, and though they’re still struggling to adjust to the majors, the Iraqi forces will soon also be prominent players. We hope.

The article also includes

The trend doesn’t mean Iraqis aren’t part of the bloody insurgency: On the contrary, Iraqi insurgents are thought to be responsible for much of the violence and fighting in the country, although most of those are non-suicide attacks.

“I still think 80 percent of the insurgency, the day to day activity, is Iraqi — the roadside bombings, mortars, direct weapons fire, rifle fire, automatic weapons fire,” said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East expert with the Congressional Research Service, which advises U.S. lawmakers.

First of all, as has been continually noted and continually ignored, the vast majority of unhappy Iraqis are Sunnis, particularly Baathist Sunnis. These are the folks that had it good under Saddam at the expense of everyone else. They’re bound to be sore, their leadership particularly so.

But the flip side is that, being Iraqis, at some point many (if not most) of them are going to realize that they’re better off playing along than they are fighting US Marines. They’re going to see things getting better for the Shiites and the Kurds, and they’re going give up. This has already started to happen, especially since the January elections, and lately there have been more negotiations between Coalition forces and insurgent groups. Many of them are simply looking for a way out with honor, and if a deal can be brokered much bloodshed can be avoided.

The suicide bombers, not beholden to Sunni leaders in Iraq, won’t ever give up. But they cannot win. They cannot even significantly alter things besides headlines. Look at Israel. They’ve been under attack by waves of suicide bombers for decades. Despite virtually no direct help from outside and an international opinion that makes George Bush’s America look like the the class president, Israel has never been close to capitulating to the bombers.

I’ve never been convinced that the “fly paper” theory was, in fact, the plan all along. But there’s no doubt that the situation in Iraq has turned into exactly that. And I think we adjusted early on to sail that tack.

The suicide bombers are making great headlines for the “if it bleeds it leads” Legacy Media, but they aren’t really changing things in Iraq. If anything, they’re harming the cause of the Iraqi insurgency by turning the average Iraqi against the violence.

(Don’t suggest that Legacy Media is pointing out that suicide bombers are mostly foreign as a way to keep the Iraqi insurgency from suffering. I just don’t want to contemplate that right now.)

It’s big that foreigners make up the vast majority of suicide bombers makes the news. There are times when the media doesn’t even want to admit that there are foreigners fighting US forces in Iraq at all. And it’s big that the media reported the growing opinion that the war is against militant Islamic extremism.

We knew it all along, of course. And they knew it all along, as well. It’s just nice to see that they’re publicly admitting it. Sort of.

I’ve got some other thoughts about the recruiting of young men into the suicide bomber ranks and how that squares with criticism of US military recruiting, but this post is already ten times longer than I originally intended. It’s going to have to wait.


  1. Wow. Nice piece. Well put. I’m not sure that I can agree with you 100% but I can’t really point out any massive flaws either. I think I would probably say the same things but explain them differently. When you say ’21st Century vs. 11th Century’ I think of this: what makes the United States funadmenally different from, say, Europe, Asia or the middle easy? It’s this: DESPITE the differences between the states at the time of becoming united, and despite the differences between the states now, they don’t seriously contemplate splitting up and they put their resources into working together. That’s something Europe doesn’t seem to be able to achieve any time soon and for the most part Asia isn’t trying. (The Middle east isn’t even close). I think that’s what you’re really talking about. When the kids learn to play nice, share and cooperate, then they will be able to challenge the United States. They’ll also be happy enough that they are unlikely to want to. My personal philosophy is that misery causes desperation and desperation causes grassroot wars. Of course, there are also wars triggered by dictators or arrogant aristocracies or national pride but those are becoming less common. When enough people in and around Iraq become happy, they won’t even be able to pretend to have a reason to fight. I think this is why there are so many foreign fighters. No Iraqi in their right mind who isn’t in a religious haze actually has a reason to fight any more, now that it’s clear that the future for Iraq is good.

  2. Haha, the Middle EAST, not the Middle Easy. Easy it ain’t 🙂 Don’t you love typos. Regarding the Poles. Why do you think they are in the mix? Memories of Hitler? Or are they just smarter than the average European. (I get the impression there are a lot of smart Poles. Especially mathematicians and scientists.)

  3. Nich, Poland has deep affection for the US, going back to the Revolution and General Casimir Pulaski’s role therein. More recently, what we used to call Armistice Day to commemorate the end of WW1 is Independence Day for Poland. Then there was WW2 of course, with Poland center stage. And just a few years ago, a full court press from Washington for Polish entry into NATO and f*ck the Russians if they don’t like it. As you’re probably aware, there are about a squillion Americans of Polish decent in the US, and many maintain ties with family back home. Chicago, in fact, has the largest concentration of Polish speakers (outside Poland, duh) in the world. I think the simplest answer regarding why Poland is in Iraq is a sense of duty, to its new NATO ally and dear old friend. I think their reward is fast-track sales of military goodies, with the techies and parts contract to match; some forward basing of American line units in Poland which ought to be good for the local economy; and an end to Polish travellers needing visas to come to the US. The last bit would go really far in endearing the broader population to the US. PS- I like ‘The Middle Easy’.

  4. I’m a big fan of Poland. They have stuck with us and they’ve performed well where others haven’t been so steadfast all the time. There are some that are willing, and a few that are able, but not many that are both. Poland is one. I DO think memories of Hitler (and also the USSR, don’t forget) factor in big-time when they make decisions about things like dictators and oppression. And I do suspect that they’re quite smart. (Maybe all the Polock jokes were made up by those jealous of them?) I’m all for military sales, basing, and economic/social agreements. It seems to me that they’re far more willing than many to work hard to gain, and they don’t expect something for nothing. What’s not to like about that?

  5. In WW2, no one would have guessed the forces of Imperialism vs Democracy would converge on the mudbanks of Guadalcanal, but it happened. I don’t know if Bush expected the War on Terror would be decided in Iraq (though Condi Rice said he did), but thats the way its going. Get over liberals and lets win this thing!

  6. Murdoc: I would turn on the B.S. detector to maximum power while reading this report. My friends on the ground there all say the exact opposite. nms

  7. Very good post. I’ve featured it as a link of interest at my weblog and intend to comment on it later on this weekend when I get time. Keep up the good posting. Cheers!

  8. Since you have brought up Poland. The one thing that Poland wants more than anything, is eased visa restrictions on coming to the US. So far the US has refused. Lech Walesa came to the US last to plead for visas and was turned away empty handed. It cost $100 dollars just to apply for a visa with no quarnetee. Is how the US repays Poland. Bush in order to pander to the mexican vote is willing to let lawbreakers in, yet keep poles out. Did mexico support the US in Iraq and send any troops? I tell my Polish countrymen that they should learn to speak Spanish if they want come to the US, heck it be the native langague soon in the US P.S. Beside Pulaski(The father of American Calvary) was Thaddeus Kosciusko Polish general. Trained in military academies in Warsaw and Paris, he offered his services to the colonists in the American Revolution because of his commitment to the ideal of liberty. Arriving in America in 1777, he took part in the Saratoga campaign and advised Horatio Gates to fortify Bemis Heights. Later he fortified (1778) West Point and fought (1780) with distinction under Gen. Nathanael Greene in the Carolina campaign. After his return to Poland he became a champion of Polish independence. He fought (1792-93) in the campaign that resulted in the second partition (1793) of Poland (see Poland, partitions of). In 1794 he issued a call at Krak+

  9. n WW2, no one would have guessed the forces of Imperialism vs Democracy would converge on the mudbanks of Guadalcanal I hate to defend Japan, but they were only doing what Great Britan, France, Spain, Netherlands and The US did-acqiure an empire. When these same countries,along with germany, carved up China,in the 19th century that was OK. When Japan did it , they were villified as a brunch of yellow bellied bastards. It was OK for UK to control India, Malaysia,Singapore, Hong Kong. France controlled Indochina. The netherlands controlled Indonesia. And last but not least the beacon of Democracy controlled the Philphines. Did’nt the US start an imperlist war under the pretext of brining freedom and democracy to cuba in 1898. The US was happy to keep Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines . Remeber that all those western countries I mentioned(the US included) were also democracies and imperlialists too.

  10. One thing that this underscores is the whole Islamic Civil War theory. The Fourth World War (as I call it) isn’t so much West against Islam or Anglosphere against Jihadists as it is 21st Century against 11th Century. It just so happens that many on the 21st Century side are Western Anglophiles and many on the 11th Century side are Islamic Jihadists. Islam is only part of the problem. If you want to get the BIG picture read this book. http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/published/pentagonsnewmap.htm

  11. One thing to keep in mind with respect to the Polish. Every Polish patriot knows that when Germany feels the need to take a breath, Germans first look to Poland to gain some breathing room. It was only in 1990 that Germnay renouced its claims on Polish territory, and only renouced the claim due to US pressure.