By RICHARD CLARKE
Posted Wednesday, April 25th 2007, 4:00 AM
Be Our Guest
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.
The puppy dog theory is the corollary to earlier sloganeering that proved the President had never studied logic: "We are fighting terrorists in Iraq so that we will not have to face them and fight them in the streets of our own cities."
Remarkably, in his attempt to embrace the failed Iraqi adventure even more than the President, Sen. John McCain is now parroting the line. "We lose this war and come home, they'll follow us home," he says.
How is this odd terrorist puppy dog behavior supposed to work? The President must believe that terrorists are playing by some odd rules of chivalry. Would this be the "only one slaughter ground at a time" rule of terrorism?
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.
Some 100,000 Iraqis, probably more, have been killed since our invasion. They have parents, children, cousins and fellow tribal clan members who have pledged revenge no matter how long it takes. For many, that revenge is focused on America.
At the same time, investing time, energy and resources in Iraq takes our eye off two far more urgent tasks at hand: one, guarding the homeland against terrorism much better than the pork-dispensing Department of Homeland Security currently does the job; and two, systematically dismantling Al Qaeda all over the world, from Canada to Asia to Africa. On both these fronts, the Bush administration's focus is sorely lacking.
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.
In the real world, by choosing unnecessarily to go into Iraq, Bush not only diverted efforts from delivering a death blow to Al Qaeda, he gave that movement both a second chance and the best recruiting tool possible.
U.S. military raids in Iraq have uncovered evidence that Iraqis are planning attacks in America, perhaps to be carried out by terrorists with European Union passports that require no U.S. visas. But such attacks here over the next several years are likely now no matter what happens next in Iraq - and that is because of what Bush has already done, not because of any future course we choose in Iraq.
But we can be sure that when the next attacks come in the U.S., if Bush is down on the ranch cutting trees, he and whatever few followers he retains by then will blame his successor. You can almost hear them now: If only hissuccessor had left enough U.S. troops in the Iraqi shooting gallery to satisfy the blood lust of the enemy, as Bush did, then they wouldn't have come here.
The truth: If not for this administration's reckless steps to push America into war - and strategic blunder after strategic blunder that has satisfied the blood lust of the enemy - fewer evildoers would follow us home like the dogs that they are.
Clarke served as chief counterterrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He is now chairman of Good Harbor Consulting.