Thursday, May 03, 2007

Former chief counterterrorism advisor discredits Bush's 'puppy dog" terror theory

Richard A. Clarke, (photo) chief counterterrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and author of the best-selling Against All Enemies, wrote an op ed for the New York Daily News on April 24, Put Bush's 'puppy dog" terror theory to sleep.

Clarke is referring to the statement that Bush and many others, including Senator McCain, are making in support of continuing the war in Iraq; if we don’t, the terrorists will “follow us home.”

Clarke asks, “Does the President think terrorists are puppy dogs? He keeps saying that terrorists will "follow us home" like lost dogs. This will only happen, however, he says, if we ‘lose’ in Iraq.”

Clarke points out, “Of course, nothing about our being 'over there' in any way prevents terrorists from coming here. Quite the opposite, the evidence is overwhelming that our presence provides motivation for people throughout the Arab world to become anti-American terrorists….Yet in the fantasyland of illogic in which the President dwells, shaped by slogans devised by spin doctors, America can ‘win’ in Iraq. Then, we are to believe, the terrorists will be so demoralized that they will recant their beliefs and cease their terrorist ways."

The “terrorists will follow us home” induces fear in a lot of people. Is Clarke the only one with counterterrorism expertise who discredits Bush’s puppy dog theory? Until I listened to NPR’s "All Things Considered" on Monday, April 30, I wasn’t sure. But Clarke is not alone. Below are excerpts from the transcript of the show, “Behind the Messages of Stopping Terrorism, and Iraq”:

Senator McCAIN (Republican, Arizona): “If we withdraw from Iraq, there will be chaos. There will be genocide. They will follow us home and it will be one of the worse challenges America has ever face as a nation and we need to see this nation through.”

DAVID WELNA (of NPR): “Just as McCain fought in Vietnam, so did retired Brigadier General John Johns, a national security expert who helped develop counterinsurgency doctrine there.”

JOHN JOHNS: “The longer we stay there, the more we’re going to create people who will volunteer to come here.”

WELNA: “That same point was made in the National Intelligence Estimate released last fall, says Senate Intelligence Committee member and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden.”

Mr. JAMES CARAFANO (Retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel): “There’s no national security analyst that’s really credible who thinks that people are going to come from Iraq and attack the United States, but that’s a credible scenario.”

WELNA: “That’s retired Army lieutenant colonel James Carafano, a specialist in international security threats at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Carafano calls asserting that terrorists will follow U.S. troops home naive and poor rhetoric.”

CARAFANO: “It’s not that if the United States leaves Iraq that terrorists are going to come to the United States. The problem is if the United States leaves Iraq, the problems aren’t going to go away. The problems, they’re going to go and fester.”

PAUL PILLAR (Former CIA Official): “We are either engaging them or killing them in Iraq, or they’re doing something else where we don’t have a fixed number, of course. And the longer that we stay engaged in what has become in the eyes of the Islamist jihadists, the biggest and foremost jihad namely Iraq, the more likelihood we will breed even more terrorists.”

JESSICA STERN (Harvard University): “I think that we really have created a very dangerous situation, and it will probably get more dangerous for civilians around the globe when U.S. troops leave Iraq. But that will happen whenever we leave Iraq.”

I suspect I will run into many people who adhere to the puppy dog theory of terrorism. If they are open to new information, I plan to trot out this list of counterterrorism experts who disagree.

(Photo of Richard A. Clarke,

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