Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Blowback: then, now, and in the years to come

A term used to describe the detrimental side effects — unintended by the US — of the current American fight in the civil war in Iraq is 'blowback'. Blowback is similar to the fire paradox in that they share the same premise: in fighting something, be it a war or insurgent terrorists in general, the opposite of intended outcomes are realized. Blowback is more specific to the fire paradox, because the fire paradox can be applied to, as used as an example in this paper, how certain policies in the 'war on terrorism' just create more terrorism. However, blowback can also be used to describe a case where terrorists are bred.

An article in Foreign Affairs presented the blowback argument — revisited. "Today's insurgents are tomorrow's terrorists,” the authors, Peter Bergen and Alec Reynolds, said. They also shared the parallels between America helping Afghan terrorists in what could effectively be described as a proxy war against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and the current US involvement in Iraq. The jihadist success in Afghanistan, which succeeded in forcing the Soviets to withdrawal, resulted in a worldwide surge in similar terrorist movements in the name of Islam.

Just as Palestine has been a breeding ground for terrorists — linked with others (mostly Arab Muslims) united against Israel — because of their plight, Iraq too is becoming the next major front for terrorist recruitment, more against America than ever. Some of this terrorism is targeted at the foreign troops, some at the weak Iraqi government, and some is just to stir up the sectarian violence. US occupation just worsens the radicalization. And seeing democracy as the cure is as shortsighted as it is naive. How could a democracy operate when the capitol building is a constant target of suicide bombers? Blowback in Iraq and Palestine will likely continue for at least another generation, if not longer if the civil war ceases to subside in Iraq and Israel and Palestine do not come so a final accord.

So could Iraq's potential or current terrorists come back and haunt the US and, indeed, the world? In reality, they already are. More so than in the case of Afghanistan? Probably. The civil war and American occupation, as well as an influx of terrorists, has made Iraq a hotbed of Islamic extremism.

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