Who’s caught in whose web?

The Flypaper Offense

The Officer’s Club make a point that I’ve often made myself:

To call either the Iraqi or Afghani theatre a “flypaper strategy” would be a misnomer. The word strategy implies that our intentions from the very genisis of Operation Iraqi Freedom were to spawn the tough insurgency that we have been fighting. Our strategy was to win, pacify, and democratize, not to attack and occupy.

But to call the military’s posturing in Iraq a “flypaper offense” would be perfectly reasonable. Critics say that the coalition is bogged down, when in fact the real victim of quagmire is the insurgency . Composing of mostly foreign fighters, fighting a terrorist war with no purpose other than to kill, the insurgency has opened a conflict that it can only win through our own decision to withdraw and lose. We have freedom of movement and of choice. The terrorists do not.

Now, I’m not so sure about the theory that the insurgency is composed “mostly” of foreign fighters. If you tend to separate the “insurgency” from “terrorism” (as I generally do) then you might be able to make the case that the “terrorists” are mostly foreigners. In fact, there have been reports that most suicide bombers are not Iraqis, and this seems to make sense. But the day-to-day insurgency seems to consist mainly of bitter dead-enders and Baathist loyalists that lost it all when the Hussein regime was demolished.

Still, the point that a “flypaper offense” has become our strategy while rebuilding Iraq seems spot-on to me, and I’ve said so before. In fact, I called it “Plan B” way back in September of aught-three. In December of that year, the shift of al Qaeda resources from Afghanistan to Iraq made the news, making flypaper the situation on the ground whether we meant for it to be or not.

There’s a quagmire in Iraq, all right. But it ain’t the one we keep reading about in the papers.