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Monday, August 20, 2007

Can We Finally Put "Al-Qaeda Would Follow Us Home" To Rest?

One of the most widely repeated -- and most disingenuous -- arguments for maintaining the U.S. presence in Iraq is this familiar false choice: "If we don't fight them in Baghdad we will have to fight them on the streets of America." Today Foreign Policy has released the third installment of its periodic "Terrorism Index," a survey of over 100 of the most respected experts on foreign policy (including both Republicans and Democrats), and among other things the experts aren't kind to this "follow us home" argument:
It’s a scenario that the index’s experts say is unlikely. Only 12 percent believe that terrorist attacks would occur in the United States as a direct result of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. Eighty-eight percent of the experts said that either such a scenario was unlikely or that they see no connection between a troop withdrawal from Iraq and terrorist attacks inside the United States. This line of thinking was consistent across party lines, with 58 percent of conservatives saying they did not believe terrorist attacks would occur at home as a result of a military drawdown in Iraq.

That could explain why a bipartisan majority, 68 percent, of the experts favor redeploying U.S. forces from Iraq during the next 18 months. Although most oppose an immediate pullout, the situation in Iraq has deteriorated to the point that 1 in 5 experts, including 25 percent of conservatives, now favor an immediate withdrawal. If opinion continues to move in this direction, it will become much harder to explain why the troops aren’t homeward bound.
It's long past time to for the media to stop aiding the GOP in perpetuating the "follow us home" canard. It's a logical fallacy, the experts disagree with it, and when conservative pundits and candidates trot it out reporters should challenge them on it.

The other parts of the report are just as damning to White House policy. A majority do not think the "Surge" is helping matters:
[53%] say the surge is having a negative impact on U.S. national security, up 22 percentage points from just six months ago. This sentiment was shared across party lines, with 64 percent of conservative experts saying the surge is having either a negative impact or no impact at all. When the experts were asked to grade the government’s handling of the Iraq war, the news was even worse. They gave the overall effort in Iraq an average point score of just 2.9 on a 10-point scale.
In addition, the experts are extremely alarmed about Pakistan. Asked which country is most likely to transfer nuclear weapons to terrorists, they picked Pakistan by a huge margin (74%, compared to North Korea as the next choice at 42%), and a plurality (35%) picked Pakistan as the most likely country to become the next safe haven for Al Qaeda (Iraq was next at 22%). A majority feel that current U.S. policy toward Pakistan is having a negative effect on U.S. national security.

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