Would the Enemy Follow Us Here if We Left Iraq?

For far too long, George Bush’s absurd arguments for war in Iraq were repeated by the lap dogs in the news media without serious questioning. It is good to see that Bush’s statements are receiving increased fact checking. McClatchy reviews Bush’s claim that we are fighting the terrorists in Iraq so that we don’t have to fight them here:

Is there any truth to ‘the enemy would follow us here?’

It’s become President Bush’s mantra, his main explanation for why he won’t withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq anytime soon.

In speech after speech, in statement after statement, Bush insists that “this is a war in which, if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here.”

The line, which Bush repeated Wednesday in a speech to troops at California’s Fort Irwin, suggests a chilling picture of warfare on American streets.

But is it true?

Military and diplomatic analysts say it isn’t. They accuse Bush of exaggerating the threat that enemy forces in Iraq pose to the U.S. mainland.

“The president is using a primitive, inarticulate argument that leaves him open to criticism and caricature,” said James Jay Carafano, a homeland security and counterterrorism expert for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy organization. “It’s a poor choice of words that doesn’t convey the essence of the problem – that walking away from a problem doesn’t solve anything.”

U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic experts in Bush’s own government say the violence in Iraq is primarily a struggle for power between Shiite and Sunni Muslim Iraqis seeking to dominate their society, not a crusade by radical Sunni jihadists bent on carrying the battle to the United States…

James Lewis, a U.S. foreign policy analyst at CSIS, called Bush’s assertion oversimplistic, but added that there’s a slight chance a few enemy combatants could make their way to the United States after a U.S. troop withdrawal.

“There’s a grain of truth in Bush saying it’s better to fight them there rather than here, but it’s also overstated,” Lewis said. “It’s not like there’s going to be gun battles in the United States.”

Daniel Benjamin, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at The Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank, agreed.

“There are very few foreign fighters who are going to be leaving the area because they don’t have the skills or languages that would give them access to the United States,” said Benjamin, who served as the National Security Council’s director for transnational threats from 1998 to 1999. “I’m not saying events in Iraq aren’t going to embolden jihadists. But I think the president’s formulations call for a leap of faith.”

“The war in Iraq isn’t preventing terrorist attacks on America,” said one U.S. intelligence official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he’s contradicting the president and other top officials. “If anything, that – along with the way we’ve been treating terrorist suspects – may be inspiring more Muslims to think of us as the enemy.”

The last line presents the ultimate problem. As we cannot kill every potential terrorist, the real battle is one for the hearts and minds of those who are more moderate. Rather than winning them over, the war has led to radicalizing many and turning more Muslims against the United States. As Saudi and Israeli studies showed that it was opposition to the war which radicalized those fighting American troops. The manner in which the war has fueled terrorism and increased our risk has been discussed in several previous posts.

Related Posts on Terrorism:

US Military Jails Turned Into Terrror Training Camps
The Culture of Fear Undermines America

Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve To Lead Her Party

Al Qaeda Regaining Power

Thought Process On On American Foreign Policy

Conservatives Join Radical Muslims in Hating Our Freedoms
Thanks to Bush We Are At Increased Risk of Terrorist Attack
Kerry Was Right on Terrorism

Do You Want the Terrorists to Win? (An on-line quiz–see how you score)
Bush Blames al Qaeda for Violence in Iraq

Downing Steet Paper: Military Action in Iraq and Afghanistan Served as Recruiting Sergeant For Terrorist Groups

Rice Ignored Additional Warnings About al Qaeda Threat
UN Report Finds That Iraq War Causing Increase in Islamic Extremism

Condi Repeats Her Lie on Receiving al Qaeda Plan
Keith Olbermann: Bush Did Not Try to Fight Terrorism Before 911

More Studies Verify That Bush Has Increased Our Risk From Terrorism

Bush Flip Flops Again on Capturing bin Laden

What the Bush Administration Should Be Doing to Keep Americans Safe
Michael Hirsh Questions Clarity of Bush’s Words and Policies on Terrorism

Setting The Record Straight On Fighting Terrorism
Chief of Strategic Planning Echos John Kerry on Terrorism

Bill Clinton’s Record Against Terrorism
Declaring Victory Over Terrorism To Reduce The Threat

Democrats: The Real Anti-Terrorists

The Spillover Effects of the Iraqi Civil War

New York Times Exposes Bush Hokum on Homeland Security

George Will: Kerry Had a Point on Terrorism
Bush and Cheney’s Reign of Error

Kerry Was Right On Terrorism

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  1. 1
    Eric Dondero says:

    They already have followed us here.

    Did you miss the news from a few weeks ago, of that Radicaly Muslim gunning down 10 people at that suburban Salt Lake City mall? He killed 4 of them Execution style. They were buying gift cards for Valentines Day. He told them, including two Newlywed Lovebirds, to kneel down. He then proceeded to put a bullet in each one of their head’s one after one. At the very end of his rampage, before the SLC cops shot him dead he shouted “Allahu-Ahkbar” three times.

    Of course, the media only mentioned the story in passing. Even “allegedly” Right-wing biased Fox, covered the story for half a day.

    Then there was the Somali Muslim Cab driver in Nashville, a few days later who drove over 2 white college kids, shouting “Hitler was right,” after he argued with them about how the “Dirty Jews” needed to leave Palestine.

    And let’s not forget the Seattle Shooter from last summer. He gunned down 6 women, one of them pregnent. One of them died. He even chased one up the stairs shouting “I am a Muslim and I hate Jews…” Then he shot her, of course.

    Again, it was a daylong story on the Nightly News. As soon as CNN learned the gunman was a Muslim they dropped the story. And the Seattle Press played it up like he was “just a disturbed young man.”

    You can keep on believing that the Radical Muslims don’t hate us Chisud. But they intend to either convert us or kills us. And if you happen to be Jewish, you get no choice. They will kill you regardless.

    Eric Dondero, Chairman
    Libertarian Defense Caucus

    PS I’ve officially dropped you from my “Favorite’s List”. But I still intend to come back here once in a while to correct all your lies and distortions.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    This is all irrelevant to what is being discussed here. If anything this argues against Bush’s claim that fighting in Iraq keeps us from having to fight terrorists here.

    Nobody is denying that radical Muslims hate us. The problem is that Bush’s policies worsen the problem and leave us at greater risk of attack.

    What I find more interesting from your reply is that you refer to “allegedly” Right-wing biased Fox. Just more evidence that you are a fanatic right winger, and not a libertarian.

  3. 3
    Splendid1 says:

    Eric Dondero,

    Your own president and his Homeland Security both deny that there have been any terrorist attacks inside the US since 9/11. Does that make you a traitor for disagreeing and stating to publicly? Better watch those no fly lists.

    I think you are right. Those were terrorist attacks. But your government says they weren’t.

    Oh, and I think you will find that those people did not “follow us here” from Iraq. That’s such a canard that I won’t dig into proving you wrong, but Somalia is not Iraq and at least one of those other guys was a convert to Islam.

    If anything, what we’ve done to Iraqis has created and then fueled their hatred. What if we had given every Iraqi family $50,000 instead of making several million of them homeless and killed half a million of them?

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:


    Excellent points, but they are wasted on Eric.

    With the links to this post from liberal blogs such as Crooks and Liars today, I’m assuming you came from a liberal blog. Eric is much better known in the libertarian blogs where is a a laughing stock for supporting the war and the Patriot Act while calling himself a libertarian. He also comments here frequently (rarely making any sense) whenever I’ve posted on topics such as areas of common agreement between libertarians and liberals in opposing the war and Repubican assaults on civil liberties, or when I point out how Rudy Giuliani is not a libertarian. (Eric’s dream ticked is Giuliani/Brownback, who he thinks are the two most libertarian candidates running.)

    If you hang around, Eric might even return and call you a girlie man or say you aren’t a real American. These apply to everyone who doesn’t agree with him on the are.

  5. 5
    Rabbi Schlomo Rabinowitz says:

    So, you would go to a Utah mall or Seattle to shoot Jews instead of Roosevelt Field? Oy?

  6. 6
    dave anderson says:

    it the terrorists did follow the military home to our streets, the vast network of street gangs in america would take them out in no time. even our govt and military don’t have the strength to fight our own lawless here.

  7. 7
    janet says:

    And by the way, check your facts, Eric. The Seattle shooter suffered from mental illness. It was a tragic crime and a hate crime perhaps but by no means can it be categorized as a terrorist attack. That’s ridiculous.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:


    Eric won’t understand the concept of checking facts. Eric makes up his own facts, beyond those he gets from the right wing noise machine.

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