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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, July 09, 2003



I Want To Believe

David Warren's "flypaper" theory gets support from some heavy hitters in the blogosphere.

The gist:

... [The "experts"] notice that the U.S. forces in Iraq have become a new magnet for regional terrorist activity. They assume this demonstrates the foolishness of President Bush's decision to invade.

It more likely demonstrates the opposite. While engaged in the very difficult business of building a democracy in Iraq -- the first democracy, should it succeed, in the entire history of the Arabs -- President Bush has also, quite consciously to my information, created a new playground for the enemy, away from Israel, and even farther away from the United States itself. By the very act of proving this lower ground, he drains terrorist resources from other swamps.


Clever spin - we think we see guerrilla insurgency, but it is really the Bush/Rumsfeld master plan in action.

But my question is, what evidence might we look for to see if this "flypaper" notion is applicable? A quick scan of my imagination suggests at least four competing scenarios:

1. "Not Enough Troops": We sent enough troops to win the war, but not enough to win the peace. This is either stupid Administration arrogance, or a correctable error in an otherwise reasonable plan, depending on one's preferences. Fred Kaplan has more.

2. "Mission Impossible": Iraq was destined to be ungovernable. The good news, such as it is, is that we did not send too few troops. The bad news is, no reasonable number would have sufficed; chaos and descent into anarchy and/or civil war were inevitable. This may be politically tolerable for Bush if (I say IF) the elimination of the WMD threat and the new progress in the Palestine peace process appear to be sufficient justifications for the war.

3. "Flypaper": as noted above.

4. "Give Me Just A Little More Time": Scattered urban resistance and sabotage was not wholly unexpected. Persevere!

So, which scenario is actually playing out? The official line, as I infer from this AP story, seems to be a combination of "Not Enough Troops", and "More Time".

I am not sure what I ought to look for to distinguish "Flypaper" from these two alternatives. But I am pretty sure that Bush's speech from the aircraft carrier was not necessary to bait this particular trap, if that was indeed the plan. And I am pretty sure that if Cheney or Rumsfeld appeared on a Sunday talk show to explain that the occupation was likely to be long and bloody, that would not jeopardize the strategy.

If "Flypaper" is the plan, the Administration has done an unnecessarily poor job of prepping the American people for it.

UPDATE: A bit of Belgravitas on this. Look for the Brit timestamp of 8.7.03, which is July 8 for you Yanks. Another chap with a righty default setting who is not buying this.

UPDATE: If Technorati is with me, who shall stand against me?

The Viking Pundit thinks Warren's essay is "excellent"; The folks wiith Common Sense coyly deem it to be "interesting".

The Sully Watchers can't say enough bad things about "flypaper", and "Bring 'em on". Try here, here, or here for starters.


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