Sunday, August 31, 2003[posted by jaed at 12:07 AM]
Flies, or maggots?
Belmont Club proposes that David Warren's "flypaper" may not be the best analogy for the flood of Arab extremists heading for Iraq:
The logical modification to the 'flypaper' scenario is the 'maggot' model. It relies on the observation that terrorism requires the corpse of a decaying society in order to survive. [...] Hamas requires an ecosystem like Lebanon to raise funds, replenish recruits and build a dysfunctional empire that could exist nowhere else but in such a place. Islamic Jihad, Lashkar Jihad, Jemaah Islamiyah, the Palestinian Authority and Al-Qaeda must keep up the mayhem because they need a job. Frankly, they are unqualified for anything else. Terrorists are flooding into Iraq because it is the only place where professionals in their line of work can get a job. Killing Americans is an optional extra but no one is counting on it.Now as an analogy, this suggests various thoughts to me. One of them is that maggots don't feed on healthy flesh, only decaying flesh - if a society is not decaying, terrorists can find no foothold there.
Which of course invests the process of building and rebuilding civil society in Iraq with even more importance. I don't think Iraqi civil society is necessarily unhealthy or dying, but transitional times are delicate - people don't yet know what to expect, they haven't yet started to take control of their lives back (my impression is that this is most true in the so-called "Sunni triangle", which is where most of the terrorists seem to be). It calls into sharp relief the fact that attracting terrorists into Iraq is not the endpoint, not at all.