I thought the whole reason we are slogging through the war in Iraq is to keep the Terrorists “there” and not “here?” That, at least, is the war drum President Bush has been beating and still beats. In a 2003 interview — published on the White House website — Bush makes it clear the Terrorists will remain “over there” as long as we stay there engaging them in Iraq (emphasis added):

Q: Well, what about the suggestion from your critics that while you won the war, the peace is being bungled? THE PRESIDENT: They’re wrong. We’re making great progress in Iraq. We’ve got a pretty steep hill to climb. After all, one, we’re facing a bunch of terrorists who can’t stand freedom. These thugs were in power for awhile, and now they’re not going to be in power anymore, and they don’t like it. And they’re willing to kill innocent people. Their terrorist activities — we’d rather fight them there than here.


In a September 2006 radio address also published on the White House website, Bush again warns us by scaring us (emphasis added):

America must not allow this to happen. We are a Nation that keeps its commitments to those who long for liberty and want to live in peace. We will stand with the nearly 12 million Iraqis who voted for their freedom, and we will help them fight and defeat the terrorists there, so we do not have to face them here at home.

How then, do we reconcile as a nation the arrest of six Muslim men in Camden, New Jersey yesterday who planned to kill United States soldiers at Fort Dix with Bush’s insistence that staying in Iraq removes the Terror threat in the Homeland?

Aren’t the “Terrorists” already “here” in the Homeland?

Haven’t Terrorists always been in the Homeland?

It is the latest in a series of plots, targeting sites in the United States, that authorities said they have foiled. These included one last June in which seven arrests were made in Miami after the authorities described suspects talking about blowing up the Sears Tower in Chicago and the F.B.I.’s Miami headquarters. In June 2003, the authorities said they thwarted a plot to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge, and in 2002, six Yemeni-Americans from Lackawanna, N.Y., near Buffalo, were arrested and linked with Qaeda interests.

Is perspective the only thing that defines the difference between a “Terrorist” and a “Freedom Fighter?”

Is treason — as Talleyrand claims — merely a matter of timetables?

If the Unites States Homeland is already an infiltrated and infected “home” for Terrorists — then why are we still embedded in Iraq?

Only the small-minded and the naive believe we won’t see many more Terrorist strikes on American soil in the years to come.

Terrorism, like it or not, is now part of the American Way of Life and we need to learn how to deal with it head-on and stop pretending it won’t touch us if we just stay in Iraq.

The military knows Terrorism is a form of warfare and they rightfully accept it as a measure of a military strategy. They do not emotionalize Terrorism. They see it for what it is — a methodical effort to enforce a plan.

The mass media and the politicians, however, color and contextualize Terrorism as a moral outrage and they inflame the rest of us with needless rhetoric on the damage done to us on levels of “unfair” and “unexpected” and “unwanted” and they harp on us why we need to understand the Terrorist from the inside out.

We need to ignore the results of Terrorism and cut them off before they are darlings of the mass media as the Fort Dix Six have now become.

Every major television network in America carried live the grotesque hour-long horn-tooting “press conference” touting the arrest of the Six and, in turn, glorifying the caught Fort Dix Six while inspiring other underground Terrorists in the Homeland we have yet to catch or to yet wonder upon.

In a wide-ranging and entirely fascinating interview with author Sir Alistair Horne, Gary Kamiya discusses with Horne why President Bush — and other Conservative Hawks — find Horne’s book, “A Savage War of Peace” so intriguing while the book so obviously addresses the failure of the colonization of Algeria from 1954-1962 by France against the rebel brew:

Given that “A Savage War of Peace” is being read as a mirror of the current war, what does Horne think are the parallels between Algeria and Iraq? “The first one is the difficulty of combating insurgents with a regular army,” he said. “Too heavy forces, too much collateral damage. The second is porous frontiers. In Algeria, they had Morocco and Tunisia on either side, so the FLN could stage raids and then go back across the border so the French couldn’t get them. Now you’ve got a similar situation in Iraq, with Syria and Iran. The third is the tactic of targeting local police. In Algeria, the insurgents were just a handful compared to what you’ve got in Iraq.

They realized that they couldn’t beat the French army, so they attacked the local police who were loyal to the French. This was enormously successful. The French had to take the army back from search and destroy missions to protect the police. So both the police and the army were neutralized. The insurgents in Iraq have copied the Algerian experience to great effect.” “The fourth thing, and this is the painful issue, is torture or abuse,” he said. “In Algeria, the French used torture — as opposed to abuse — very effectively as an instrument of war. They had some success with it; they did undoubtedly get some intelligence from the use of torture. But they also got a lot of wrong intelligence, which inevitably happens.

But worse than that, from the French point of view, was that when the news came out in France of what the army was doing, it caused such a revulsion that it led directly to the French capitulation. And not only revulsion in France, but revulsion here. JFK, as a senator, took up the Algerian cause quite strongly partly because of the human rights issue.

Horne wonders how we can gracefully leave Iraq:

The fifth parallel Horne saw between Algeria and Iraq is the one that now confronts the Bush administration: an exit strategy. “In Algeria, the war went on for eight years, and the military, rather like the military in Vietnam, had a very good case for saying they were winning it,” Horne said. “But de Gaulle decided they had to go. They were negotiating for months with the FLN, like the peeling of an onion. The French lost every bloody thing, including the rights to oil. They had to pull out all 1 million pieds noirs.”

The pieds noirs, of whom Albert Camus is the most famous, were French colonial settlers, many of whom traced their roots in Algeria back to the French conquest in 1830. “One of the worst things that happened in Algeria was what happened to the Harkis, the Algerians who were loyal to France,” Horne explained. As he relates in his book, the Harkis were slaughtered by their vengeful countrymen after the French left, with an estimated 30,000 to 150,000 perishing. “Absolutely appalling. I fear that we’re going to have a Harki situation or much worse coming up in Iraq, because of the numbers involved. The savagery in Iraq is worse than what it was in Algeria.”

“When the domino theory was applied to Vietnam, it was much despised. People said it didn’t mean a thing. But here I think it does, because an over-speedy exit from Iraq is going to leave a vacuum with possibly terrible consequences,” he said. “Take Saudi Arabia. Are we going to have another Iranian revolution there? I would think it’s really ripe for it. Even aside from al-Qaida, there’s an awful lot of opposition to the Saudi royal family. And then you’ve got the question of Iran, which could emerge as the most powerful power in the area. So I’m just extremely glad I’m not George W. Bush because I don’t know how you can get out gracefully.”

Horne on bringing in mercenaries to help diminish the impression that U.S. forces are foreign religious “Crusaders:”

“Yes, they see us as crusaders. Henry Kissinger has a very interesting theory which I go along with. I know the word ‘mercenary’ has a terribly pejorative sound in American ears — you think of the Hessians, the ‘bloody lobsterbacks.’ But Henry’s idea is that you bring in neutral people. He mentioned the Indian army. What you need in Iraq is a kind of mercenary force. Say the Indians have a huge army, which they have difficulty in paying. So we buy a division or two. We have the Gurkhas, but unfortunately, there are only a brigade of them. We need more. We need some country that is not a crusader, not tarnished, to take over.”

Horne on creating hope out of despair:

“I have a Jewish ex-Baghdadi friend in New York, Ezra Zilkha, who has made a huge fortune in banking. This is what I’d call the Zilkha plan. Take the worst place in the world, the most miserable, inefficient, god-awful, messed-up place: Gaza. Make a mini-economic miracle there. Create something like Dubai. Have a duty-free port. Dubai has nothing that Gaza hasn’t got. It’s got the sea, and if the Israelis would let them use it, it’s got natural gas.

Horne on the trouble priests make (emphasis added):

“Now, I’m reminded of one of my heroes, Talleyrand,” Horne continued. “He was a real old rascal. But among his many very wise statements, he said, ‘Wherever there’s trouble, look for a priest.’ He was a defrocked priest so he knew what he was talking about. Honestly, if you look at it, in Northern Ireland, trouble was caused largely by priests on one side or the other.

And what’s happened in Northern Ireland? The solution has nothing to do with religion. We got the priests out of there, thanks to the EU. The best thing it ever did was make Ireland prosperous. And prosperity made up for religion. This is the only hope for the Middle East, to somehow neutralize the mullahs by creating a small economic miracle. To persuade young Muslims that there’s a better life than blowing themselves up by running casinos and whorehouses and hotels and what have you.”

Horne on the ramp up to war:

“In April 2002, I was lecturing to 24 U.S. generals, four-star generals, the top brass in Europe, in France, and it was absolutely clear to me that they were all set to go to war in Iraq,” he said. “They were discreet about it, but they pretty well knew what spots they were going into. There was the commander of the 3rd Division, the commander of the 3rd Corps, and it was all set up. That was a year before the war.

Then, six months later, I was lecturing at the marvelous VMI, the Virginia Military Academy, where General Marshall graduated. At dinner there were some very bright colonels — it’s colonels who run armies, not generals — from the Pentagon. One of them said to me, ‘Remember what they said about the First World War, “the trains have left the station”‘? That was October, and the trains had left the station. Actually, I think they’d pretty well left the station by the April before.”

Horne on how the U.S. botched Iraq:

“One of the stupidest things the U.S. did, and this comes out in Ricks’ book and Rajiv’s [Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s “Imperial Life in the Emerald City”], was disarming the Baathists, the Iraqi army,” Horne said. “I mean, honestly. To go back in history, we beat Napoleon in 1814 and sent him to Elba.

Then he had this amazing comeback in 100 days and very nearly beat the hell out of us at Waterloo. How did he manage to resurrect his army? Because the stupid fat king didn’t pay them! He stood down Napoleon’s army. They were all these old soldiers who weren’t paid. It was the same thing in Iraq. There were what, a half a million men, and we just said, ‘Go home.’ You don’t think they’re going to set up a kebab stand in Baghdad. They’re going to use their weapons. We created the insurgency there.”

Horne as The Man among mere men:

Horne’s insight and experience make incredible sense to me.

Sir Alistair Horne has the perspective of an author and the authority of a Sage — and the business of his being is to tell us awful truths in public from which we all hide in private.


  1. David,
    Interesting parallels.
    It is always quite eye-opening to read statements Bush made at the beginning of this whole thing and then to try and reconcile those statements with the current status of the war.

  2. Nicola —
    He’s the first person who examines the Iraq quagmire from a neutral POV with a necessary historic bent.
    The fact that his truths are being misunderstood by Bush and his cronies is especially damming in light of the reality of his work.

  3. Emily —
    Bush has always been reliable and predictable in his rationale for the war — even if the facts and history belie him.

  4. Great connection, David! I, too, am tired of being scared into worrying about terrorism on home soil. We’ve experienced it before and we’ll experience it again.

  5. Right, Anne! We were not safe under Republican rule in NYC and D.C. on 9/11 — so why fear terroristic acts post-Republican rule of our lives?

  6. This is the politics of fear in action. Scare everyone to get them to vote for the war and for conservative candidates.

  7. That’s a plan that’s been working, Anne. The Democrats need to take a stand against the fear and reject it out of hand.

  8. Hi David,
    There have always been terrorists in America.
    Sometimes they aren’t obvious because they might not be well organized or trained. They might not even have a religious goal or political ideology guiding their actions.
    On Tuesday, the day before the primary election in East Chicago, Indiana someone shot and killed the 7-year-old son of a political candidate as he sat in his father’s car outside of his grandfather’s house. No matter if it was something personal, gang-related, or political in nature, it is a form of terrorism that has ravaged the urban core for far too long in our country.
    I wonder if we should learn some of the lessons of the terrorists and apply them to our benefit in the future. Instead of fighting huge and costly wars, I’m thinking it might be better to play the cat-and-mouse game with the enemy, wearing them down and sapping their will to fight. Maybe this should be the way we fight wars in the future?
    I’m sure that we’ll fund Sunnis who want to fight Shi’tes and vice versa to keep them occupied and busy while we are busy pulling out of Iraq in the near future. If we don’t, we can count on the Saudis funding groups to harass and terrorize the Iranian-supported factions.
    Maybe next time we have something to do overseas, maybe we should hit them with a thousand mosquito bites, rather than trying to come at them with the full force and might of our military.
    Maybe insurgency tactics could prove useful if we ever decide to fight a war against radical religious fanatics — maybe using a few unconventional warfare teams to knock the bad guys in Darfur off of their feet without spending a lot of money and human capital in the process.

  9. Chris!
    Thanks for the prescient and powerful comment! You are right on so many counts!
    Where is the money to prevent violence in the urban core? Are not gangs just as bad and pernicious and deadly as foreign “terrorists?” Where is the big money in the billions to fight that threat in the Homeland?
    We do need to change the way we deal with terrorists at home and abroad: We need to quietly assassinate them. We need to be quick and dangerous.
    We don’t need tons of military equipment. We don’t need to take trucks from the Kansas National Guard to fight terrorism abroad. We need to infect them as they have infected us — but we’ll lead them to death sooner because we have superior covert weaponry.
    Forget the bombs and the big planes and think smaller and deadlier and quieter. That’s the new warfare for the future.
    Get out of hardware and think software, soft tissue and biological “treatments” that cannot be healed until it is too late.

  10. Hi Chris!
    I think once Akismet sees you comment on Emily’s article about the “A” word and the “E” word people are going to get “caught” a bit until we train Akismet to leave them alone. 😥

  11. Hi David,
    I remember seeing that there was a feedback link to train Akismet, but I forgot what it was. Have you already notified Akismet, or should I also notify them?

  12. Hi David,
    Mr. Horne is so right when he says “we created the insurgency there.”
    The thing that boils my blood is that Bush keeps linking the terrorists to the Iraq war. He refuses to separate the terrorists from the insurgency. Since there were no WMD found, and we “liberated the Iraqi people,” his only justification for the continued quagmire is “we must fight the terrorists over there.”
    Yes, there are terrorists there now. Thanks to our poor military planning.
    I remember when the war started, listening to generals on CNN talk frequently about the aftermath. They knew we had the firepower to blow Baghdad off the map, but consistently brought up the question of “What happens after that?”
    Well, now it’s a fine kettle of fish. A regular Catch-22. We likely won’t pull out until Bush is out of office, and then the Democrats will get the blame for the whole crazy and sick mess.

  13. The key to ending terrorism — whether its in the urban core or in the Middle East — is to give people hope that they can change their future for the better through non-violent means.
    Education will be the key.
    Right now, there are too many kids being taught that violence is the way to solve problems.

  14. Speaking of education, have you seen the news story and video of how babies are trained to grow up to become snake charmers?

    It shows that you can train people to become used to just about anything, including being attacked by cobras.

  15. Fine commentary Donna, thanks!
    There is something to be said for the elder Bush who was wise enough to fight Iraq without invading Baghdad. What a smart man! What a kind heart! He got the job done and then got us the heck outta there! Saddam was humbled, in charge, being watched, and under the control of the world.
    I knew we were in trouble when it became a free-for-all in Iraq and the museums were plundered of all their valuable artifacts. If you’re going to take over a country — you better have enough of a plan to protect the infrastructure and the historic monuments — or you’ll be forever hated by those you are trying to condition to love you.
    I think we’re going to be in Iraq for the next 20 years. No Democrat president will want an Iraq failure in his or her lap. So they’ll just continue the status quo until they can hand of off to the next in line.

  16. Right, Chris! That’s Horne’s main point. The way out of fundamentalist religion and the killing that follows is to break the chain with economic success. When people have a choice between money and staying poor and fighting, they always choose prosperity over bloodshed.
    Horne also argues that Islam has not yet had that cathartic break between the priests and the business interests — but if and when that does happen, there will be a renewal of the religion without the punishing fundamentalism that keeps its people in their current status quo.

  17. What a crazy video, Chris!
    If you look at snake charmers, you’ll see their “snakes” are always de-fanged. Not much of a chance of getting bitten but the cruelty to the snakes is unconscionable.

  18. Hi David,
    The Founders of the United States were wise to disallow the creation of a national religion because keeping the two separate has allowed both to flourish in relative peace in our country.
    It’s interesting that Iraq was considered secular before the war.
    It’s too bad we didn’t plan for the peace when we attacked Iraq. A lot of the problems seem to stem from faulty intelligence that was gathered throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. Everyone was too eager to believe Sadam’s PR machine about having WMDs. The more I think about it, the more I think Sadam made his claims in order to keep Iran at bay, but didn’t think we’d actually call his bluff.

  19. Hi David,
    I agree that President George Bush, Sr. was very wise indeed not to let Gen. Schwartzkoff “roll over Baghdad.”
    At the end of the first Persian Gulf war, I was just finishing up a 7 year committment to the military. (I was a line officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve.) Fortunately for me, I was never mobilized.
    Although I enjoyed my time in the military, I cannot help but think what the hell I would do if I were still in and called to active duty in Iraq. I suppose I would go, since you swear an oath to defend the Constitution, but it would not set well with me. I hate the current situation in Iraq, and feel for the families with soldiers who have died, been wounded, or are in harm’s way. I can also understand their need to make the war “a worthy cause.” After all, they are putting their lives and the lives of their loved ones on the line.
    What a screwed-up situation. We need a plan. We need a real good plan.

  20. Chris —
    I’m not so sure we don’t have a national religion now. God seems to be everywhere in our government and he’s a God of Christendom and not “of the universal world” and that puts people off who just want to be left alone or who want to celebrate a religion that doesn’t require acquiescence to the Christ child.
    Horne makes another deeper point about religion in that desperate, hungry, poor people turn to it as a salve — we’ve seen its healing qualities in Russia/USSR where religion was outlawed — but the difficult part of comfort for the rest of us is that it gives the priests great power over their flock and that power often translates into bloodshed in a grab for power that can turn into endless wars of beliefs and not of rational facts.
    Horne says you break that chain by paying people and giving them monetary incentive to keep the peace. They place their faith in the future and not in the religious past and they gain greater hope through the propagation and exchange of money than the repression of religious tenets that punish more than they heal and uplift.
    I agree Saddam was an important blockade when it came to taming Iran. Saddam would not let Iran press the claims they are pressing now without punishing them in volatile ways we could never get away with and so, Saddam — who was once our friend — somehow became the scapegoat for a misaligned foreign policy that will wrench our children and their children’s children for the next 100 years.

  21. Donna!
    I had no idea you were in the Navy! Now that’s cool! You certainly have an important perspective on military service. What did you do as a line officer? Has there been any attempt to recall you into mandatory service? You should read Sgt. Martha’s letter from Iraq we published here awhile back.
    I can’t help but think the reason the elder Bush didn’t touch Baghdad was because of his experience in WWII. He knew what it was like to bleed and be shot down and to deal with the heartache of losing friends. His son was not so similarly tempered by the heat of war and the rest of us are paying the price for that lack of contemporary schooling in our Commander-in-Chief. One great think about Bill Clinton is he let his military guys call the shots. He knew his place and his experience when it came to calling in the big guns.
    I sort of like Horne’s idea about hiring the Indians to come in and keep the peace. They are a friendly nation. They have hundreds of thousands of well-trained soldiers who are not being appropriately paid. Let us pay them as mercenaries to bring Iraq back into form and under control. Let them fix what we broke.

  22. Hi David,
    I was an unrestricted line officer attached to a tender (unarmed supply ship that travels in a carrier group) out of Mayport, Florida. Since I was never called to active duty, I mostly did paperwork at the Naval Reserve Center in my hometown. I did however, have to go through damage control training, fire-fighting school and navigation school.
    On Horne’s idea of letting Indian mercenaries do the work, okay, but would they want to? I guess I have never understood the mindset of a mercenary.
    Now if we could get the French Foreign Legion…

  23. I love it that you’ve had real-life military experience, Donna! That gives you great insight and meaning into this current mess of a war.
    I think Horne’s point about India is that the Ghurkas are already there —
    — and if you bring in the Indian brigades and pay everyone really well they will all have a calming effect in the region because they won’t be seen as oppressors or colonists: They will be viewed as disinterested parties interested only in keeping the peace for a price.
    He’s basically saying, I think, “get the White faces out of there” to start to calm things down.

  24. Hi David,
    I reread Horne’s extrapolation of Kissinger’s idea. I have always thought Kissinger a brilliant statesman.
    Move over Condi Rice. Kissinger, where are you?

  25. Hi Donna!
    I’m surprised you’re a Kissinger fan! There are many who believe he constructed the entire rationale for the Iraq war. It was his chance to win Vietnam again. He’s been a frequent visitor to the White House.

  26. The Kissinger link was revealed in Bob Woodward’s book:

    Cheney stunned Woodward by revealing that a frequent advisor to the Bush White House is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who served Presidents Nixon and Ford during the Vietnam War.
    “He’s back,” Woodward says. “In fact, Henry Kissinger is almost like a member of the family. If he’s in town, he can call up and if the president’s free, he’ll see him.”
    Woodward recorded his on-the-record interview with Cheney, and here’s what the vice president said about Henry Kissinger’s clout: “Of the outside people that I talk to in this job I probably talk to Henry Kissinger more than just about anybody else. He just comes by and I guess at least once a month,” Cheney tells Woodward. “I sit down with him.”
    Asked whether the president also meets with Kissinger, Cheney told Woodward, “Yes. Absolutely.”
    The vice president also acknowledged that President Bush is a big fan of Kissinger.
    “Now, what’s Kissinger’s advice? In Iraq, he declared very simply:
    ‘Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy.’ This is so fascinating. Kissinger’s fighting the Vietnam War again. Because in his view the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will. That we didn’t stick to it,” Woodward says.
    He says Kissinger is telling the president to stick to it, stay the course. “It’s right out of the Kissinger playbook,” Woodward says.


  27. Hi David,
    I read “The Washington Post” article where Woodward got the quote, “Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy.” It was written in 2005.
    In the last paragraph of the rather lengthly article, Kissinger says, in response to “Will there be a constitutional victory in Iraq?”
    The answer to that question will determine whether Iraq becomes a signpost for a reformed Middle East or the pit of an ever-spreading conflict. For these reasons, a withdrawal schedule should be accompanied by some political initiative inviting an international framework for Iraq’s future. Some of our allies may prefer to act as bystanders, but reality will not permit this for their own safety. Their cooperation is needed, not so much for the military as for the political task, which will test, above all, the West’s statesmanship in shaping a global system relevant to its necessities.
    I think Iraq has become “the pit of an ever-spreading conflict.” I would like to read something more recent on Kissinger’s viewpoint of Iraq. He seems to be saying in this article that we do need a global commitment to resolve the problem, that America cannot go it alone.
    I don’t know his present position, so perhaps my comment about “Condi move over” was premature. I do agree with Horne that Kissinger’s idea to bring in a neutral party seems wise.

  28. Hi David,
    Yes, indeed he is. You don’t get the Nobel Peace Prize for being a slouch.
    I think he is brilliant, even though I may not agree with all of his positions.
    I seem to recall he was “one of the generals” I mentioned earlier that had a real problem with the aftermath of Iraq.

  29. Hi David,
    Touche on the Nobel Prize.
    I still think Kissinger is brilliant.
    Do you not agree with Horne?

  30. Hi David,
    Terrorism not only became a part of America, it became a part of the world.
    Unfortunately the language of violence has become another means of communication.
    The excerpt from Sir Alistair Horne’s book was amazing – I was not familiar with his writing – thank you for introducing!

  31. Donna —
    Kissinger is brilliant — but does he use his genius in the right way? Does he enlighten the world or merely enliven it?
    Whatever Horne says, I agree with… 😀

  32. You are very right, Katha! Terrorism is everywhere all over the world. We cannot hide from it. We must accept it as a matter of living and deal with it appropriately.
    Horne is quite a genius. You would enjoy his writing. I think he’s writing a book on Kissinger about 1973. One year. That year. Kissinger made the invite, I believe, for the book. Should be an interesting glimpse into what really happened.

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