How to breed terrorists
1. Attack and terrorize a country with overwhelming military force, destroy the quality of life for people living there and kill lots of civilians.
2. Occupy that country and keep killing civilians while trying to kill the people trying to make you leave. Do as little as you can to help the civilians and make sure your occupying troops are as isolated from the civilian population as possible.
3. Continue for as long as people back home can stand it.
Well said Boris.(This started out as a comment on Boris' excellent post over at the Beaver, and then just plain got to be too long to be a comment)
The nonsensical rah-rah bullshit about "fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight'em over here" is just that - nonsensical bullshit. The coalition isn't just fighting them over there, it is creating them over there.
I'm all for hunting down and shooting every card-carrying Taliban and Al-Qaida member, but they don't carry cards or wear sweaters with a big red "T" for terrorist on them. I sympathize with soldiers wanting to err on the side of not getting killed....................BUT YOU CAN'T JUST GO AROUND SHOOTING EVERYONE JUST TO MAKE SURE!!!!!
Nor can you "precision" bomb a house in a crowded neighborhood just because someone told you there was a bad guy there. Nor can you shoot people for carrying shovels or talking on cell phones or kick in innocent people's doors in the middle of the night and disappear them to the tender mercies of Abu Graib or turn a car full of people into scrap metal and bloody rags because they didn't slow down fast enough as they approached your checkpoint.
You can't do any of these things and expect the people to whom you are doing them to thank you, shower you with candy and flowers and give you their hearts and minds.
What you can expect is the kind of ripple effect that is going on in Iraq.
Most Iraqis hated Saddam Hussien, but they had running water and electricity and there were jobs and as bad as things were, you could feed your family, go to the mosque when and if you wanted, and have some idea of what to expect day to day. Sure, there was always the threat that your crazy neighbour might denounce you to the secret police or that you'd get strung up by the thumbs in Abu Ghraib because your cousin ran an anti-Saddam website, but there wasn't much you could do about it.
When the invasion came and Saddam was given the boot, people cheered. "Hurrah! No more secret police! No more Abu Ghraib! Democracy! Whisky! Sexy!"
Now five years later they have electricity about an hour a day, sometimes less, no running water in most of country, shit blowing up all over the place, foreign soldiers who don't speak your language in the streets willing to shoot you for looking at them the wrong way, checkpoints everywhere, the constant threat that your crazy neighbor will denounce you to the Americans who will hang up by your thumbs in Abu Ghraib, religious fanatics who will shoot you for going to the wrong mosque and who will beat and rape your daughter for not wearing a burqa. There are no jobs, you don't know where your next meal is coming from half the time and you never know when a firefight is going to break out. Those lousy bastards who go to the other mosque shot your son last week and your wife lost her legs three years ago when a bomb went off at the market. And the occupation forces killed six of your cousins, three of your uncles and your grandmother. And they keep calling you Haji.
(at this point someone is saying "you've never been there, you don't know -- go do your homework." Yeah, well, your right I've never been there, but I have heard some stories from the people that have. I suggest listening to the As it Happens Podcast from March 19th in which they play a pair of interviews with an Iraqi who works for the Ministry of Electricity. The first interview is from the end of the first year of the occupation, the second is from this past March, the fifth anniversary. If you don't do podcasting, you can listen to the interviews here)
Imagine you were born in Baghdad in the late 1980s to early 1990s. Your childhood was bit messed up what with the aftermath of the eight year war with Iran and the pounding your country took from the Americans in the Gulf War and the subsequent years of sactions that left your formerly reasonably wealthy developed country poor and scraping for material goods. But you've never know it to be any different, you're just a kid. The grown ups might talk of a time before the country went downhill, but you spend your time playing soccer with your friends, going to school and doing what kids all over the world do - hanging out with your friends and family, scheming to score some candy and having fun. As you get older you start to realize that people in other countries don't have it as tough as you do because their countries don't have economic sanction against them that prevent them from importing stuff. You get a bit ticked off with rest of the world for being mean to Iraq, but maybe they have a point, your president is a pretty scary guy after all and nobody much likes him.
Then, when you're between 15 and 11 the shit really hits the fan. The sky opens one night in March and the every power station, water works, military base blows up. The sky seems dark with planes and the bombs just keep on exploding everywhere. The earth shakes. You think you will go deaf from the constant onslaught of explosions. The house up the street is just...gone. When the bombing stops the soldiers come and there is some shooting for a few days. The whole city goes crazy for a while - Saddam is gone! People are looting government buildings! Once things start to calm down a little bit, you realize that the foreign soldiers are settling in. Bombs keep going off in your neighbourhood, the soldiers come in the night and take away your neighbours, the electricity doesn't work, the school has been turned into a command post for the police, everyone is scared all the time and everyone you know has lost a brother or a sister or a cousin or a friend or a mother or a father to bombs from one side or the other. You had hoped to go to college one day and be an engineer like your dad, but the college keeps blowing up and you its too dangerous to go to the high school.
Five years of this go by and now you're 16 to 20 and you HATE the Americans. They have fucked up your life and killed your friends and your family. Just last week, one of their convoys came past and they ran over your cousin like a dog in the street. Your dad got shot by the Militia because he worked for the electricity ministry and was working with the Americans trying to get the power back on in Baghdad. Your cousin lost a leg in a car bombing near the Green Zone. That girl you thought was pretty in your third grade math class way back when, she died in the shock and awe bombings. No one has seen your older brother in two years -- he could be dead, he could be with the insurgents, he could be in Abu Ghraib. Your mother cries every night and your little sister is scared to leave the house.
You ask yourself "What in the name of the prophet did we do to deserve this? Why don't the infidels go home and leave us alone?" Then, one day after the Americans smashed the front of your neighbours house in with a tank at 3 am and hauled him away, a man comes to you and your friends while you are sitting in the dirt in front of your neighbours house talking about what happened and how angry you all are. "You hate the Americans?" he says. "So do I, what are you willing to do about it?" He says he knows how you can teach them a lesson, how you can make them leave Iraq, how you can get revenge. You smile and shake his hand and say "Tell me more"
Now, those of you with a conservative bent may think this is unrealistic, but go back and substitute Dallas for Baghdad in these descriptions and tell me it could never happen. Go watch the favorite film of the neo-con cool kids and tell me that if Russia or France or the Pan-Arab Islamofacist League or whoever invaded and occupied the United States that vast swathes of young men would not take to the hills and back alleys and fight to the death to drive them out.
Remember the surge in enlistment in the U.S. armed forces after 9/11? People in middle America who hated arrogant, cosmopolitan New York, who thought it was full of nothing but Jewish pornographers and black gangbangers and rich liberal yuppies, who previously would not have pissed on New York City if it had been one fire, suddenly got all indignant and patriotic and ready to kick some ass somewhere, anywhere to get even. Imagine a smaller version of 9/11 happening in your neighborhood on a frequent basis. What would you want to do to the people responsible? Greet them with flowers and candy?
Why would we expect anything less from the young men of Iraq? Or Afghanistan?
Fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here? The longer we stay over there, the more likely they are to come over here to make us stop and the more of them there will be.