Iraq as Qaeda Bait

The Left thinks Iraq is a killing field for Americans. Actually, it is a killing field for our enemies, at a very great but vitally important sacrifice. That reflects a grand strategy, tailored to the peculiar nature of the global terror threat.

You don't shoot poisonous fire-ants with a BB gun; you just set an ant trap. Ant colonies are highly "distributed" biological societies, much like the world-wide web. They can't be killed with a BB or a pressure hose; even pouring flaming gasoline on an ant hill won't work

Instead, you destroy ant colonies by attracting hungry ants to a chemical bait, and then kill them all in one small place. Ant traps work.  

That's the Bush strategy in Iraq. Al Qaeda isn't centralized, with big cities or steel industries like Nazi Germany. So you can't destroy the enemy by hunting them one by one.  Rather, you bait a trap -- provoke them to come to you, and make sure they don't get out alive.

Iraq is a trap for Al Qaeda. Our mere presence in the heart of the Osama's Caliphate-To-Be draws them like ants to sugar. General Petraeus just reported that
" the past 8 months, we have considerably reduced the areas in which Al Qaeda enjoyed sanctuary. We have also neutralized 5 media cells, detained the senior Iraqi leader of Al Qaeda-Iraq, and killed or captured nearly 100 other key leaders and some 2,500 rank-and-file fighters. Al Qaeda is certainly not defeated; however, it is off balance and we are pursuing its leaders and operators aggressively."  
Most of the Qaeda fighters come from Saudi Arabia and other breeding grounds. Now that the Sunni tribes are turning against them, they are more exposed and hunted than ever before. Wars are fluid and unpredictable, but no one can imagine that Al Qaeda is happy with its victories since 9/11.

In Afghanistan, they have been on the run since 2003, although the Pakistan border regions continue to supply new recruits. But in Afghanistan they are being destroyed before ever reaching the cities. Add that to a sizable numbers neutralized in Pakistan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and more. Add to that the cells pinpointed in Europe and America, the Philippines and Indonesia. We are wiping out the fire ants wherever they can be found.

At that attrition rate, every single year we stay in Iraq, we could get rid of another couple of thousand AQ fighters. Yes, we pay a high price -- but nothing like the price that baddies running loose and attacking us at home would exact.

We are demonstrating who is the strong horse, and who is the weak horse. When the message is finally driven home, the enemy will come to his own conclusions.

In addition to Al Qaeda, other jihadi militants, like Iranian Quds officers and Shiite militants, are being caught in Iraq.  A top Hezb'allah operative was just captured there -- and Hezb'allah has been killing Americans ever since they blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon. As the President said when our perverse press pointed out that the terrorists might hit us in Iraq: Bring them on.  That was not an idle boast, but just a statement of the bait and kill strategy. The many critics of that statement simply do not understand or do not want to understand the strategy.

Now take a look at the map of Iran,  and notice where our military are today. To the west is Iraq, where American forces move and attack freely. To the east is Afghanistan, where the same is true. South and south-west are Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and the Gulf itself; those Sunni countries now consider Iran to be their biggest threat.

We therefore have hundreds of thousands of military surrounding the next biggest problem, Tehran: to the east and west, and on naval vessels in the Gulf, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean. We just had joint maneuvers with the Indian Navy, the Japanese and the Aussies. In Qatar we have major bases. We just sold another 20 billion dollars worth of military equipment to Saudi and Oman, including anti-missile defenses. Farther away, Egypt and Jordan are American clients -- within limits. So, of course, is Israel. In sum, Tehran can be struck from most points of the compass by our air and missile forces. The Israeli Air Force just struck Iranian weapons located in the eastern corner of Syria, right next to Iran.

Iran is a rising threat, and no one knows how that scenario will play out. But would you really want to be Ahmadi-Nejad today? Every time he makes another wild boast, more people become convinced that he cannot be allowed to get nukes. The German government has just been reported as giving up on the European negotiation effort to stop Iranian nukes. Instead, German officials
"gave the distinct impression that they would privately welcome, while publicly protesting, an American bombing campaign against Iran's nuclear facilities."
It can't be comfortable to be a regime supporter in Tehran today.

Or would you want to be a Baathist general? A few years ago they were at the top of the heap.

The fact is that we are drastically weakening or destroying our terror-supporting enemies: Saddam is dead, Al Qaeda is being degraded, the Taliban are hemorrhaging, and the Mullahs are surrounded.

Yet all the know-nothings think there is no strategy for Iraq.

There's even a clever ironic twist in terms of domestic politics, because our liberals are constantly screaming Defeat! Defeat! Defeat!  That message of weakness and vulnerability inspires more and more of our enemies to come to Iraq and join in the bloody slaughter of Americans.

But when they get there, they discover they've been suckered. It's not the Americans who are taking a beating, but the jihadis who fell for the headlines and who listen to the American Left.  So even our malicious liberals end up encouraging the enemy to go to Iraq to die.

As President Harry Truman did, George W. Bush recognized the stakes, set in place the right strategy, and was vilified by critics as stupid. But good poker players like Harry S. Truman and George W. Bush know that you don't show your cards too soon, just to make people think you're smart.

James Lewis blogs at