Spider and the Fly
By Michael Shannon
you read this another act of sabotage is being considered,
planned or carried out, another "improvised explosive device"
is being planted, another 18-year-old American kid from some
town you never heard of is staring out into the pitch-black
desert night straining to see what is or is not staring back
at him, another Iraqi family is sweltering through yet another
broiling late summer day with no electricity to ease the sting,
another 18-year-old Shia from some town you never heard of
is contemplating jihad against the American infidel, and another
American family just opened their front door to two military
officers in their class A's, there to tell them that Johnny
wont be coming home.
Only the most ill-informed or fanatically partisan person
would argue that the post-war situation in Iraq is going according
to plan. However, that is precisely what some of the most
devoted sycophants within the Bush administration - aided
by some of the most shameless toadies from without - remain
committed to convince you and I of. And while even the most
addled of them balk at attempting to portray the effort as
a whole as a shining and glorious highlight in the history
of America, they all focus on one aspect in which they steadfastly
maintain that the plan is working as designed.
Their contention is a simple one: the continuation of combat
in Iraq is - contrary to popular wisdom and all supporting
evidence thereof - beneficial to the United States and its
interests. They claim that by engaging not only the Iraqi
insurgents but also by drawing other militant Islamic warriors
into the Iraqi theater we are not only fighting these people
in a site of our choosing but by their very presence in Iraq
they are not free to wield their wickedness elsewhere. It
was David Warren, writing in his Essays On Our Times website,
July 5, 2003, who gave this line of thinking its nom de guerre:
The Flypaper Strategy.
This thoroughly repugnant term, which has been picked up
by other conservative writers - Andrew Sullivan in particular
- directly implies that the soldiers of the American Armed
Forces are the bait to a trap from which our Islamic enemies
will enter but not leave alive. President Bush proved that
he himself is a big proponent of the strategy with his remarkably
ill-considered challenge to "bring 'em on," issued a few weeks
back from the safety and comfort of the White House. But where
he and all the other adherents to this philosophy have failed
is in not asking themselves who exactly in this wretched situation
is the spider and who is the fly.
As the reality that the US is involved in an ongoing guerilla
war within Iraq has become ever less deniable, the upper levels
of the political and military leadership here in the United
States have gone to great lengths to pigeonhole those who
oppose the American forces as Saddam loyalists and/or criminal
"deadenders." With the shift in strategy evident the past
several weeks by those who resist the US occupation to include
non-military sites as targets, those labels no longer seem
to be operable. Mr Warren and his ilk should have been more
careful in what they had wished for, because it seems as though
it has been granted.
Neil MacFarquhar writing in the New York Times on
August 11, 2003, reports, "in much the same way that the Russian
invasion of Afghanistan stirred an earlier generation of young
Muslims determined to fight the infidel, the American presence
in Iraq is prompting a rising tide of Muslim militants to
spill into the country to fight the foreign occupier." While
it remains highly speculative that the manpower and resources
deployed in Iraq by non-Iraqi guerilla fighters/terrorists
has left the Islamic militant movement unable to strike elsewhere,
it is this kind of reporting that shows that the second tenet
of The Flypaper Strategy may actually hold some water.
Whether it does or not, does not change the reality of life
on the ground in Iraq for our soldiers. They are the ones
that by design or circumstance find themselves squarely in
the bull's eye and with an ever increasing burden of sites
and places to protect. And while there is no question that
as a matter of military prowess and power the American Armed
Forces are superior in every measurable way to their Iraqi
foes, the steadily rising death toll shows that our young
men and women bleed and die just like soldiers always have.
The United States may have every advantage in the tangible
methods and means of warfare. It is in the intangibles, particularly
time, where the Iraqi/Islamic fighters have a distinct advantage.
For the spider is perfectly content sit and wait for his victim
to come to him.
Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org