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Fighting Them There So . . .

CheneyWestPointWhen Dick Cheney told the graduating West Point cadets that the enemy is massing in Iraq, it seems he got the fundamentals confused. Instead it appears that the “enemy” is now sending people trained by the resistance in Iraq into neighboring countries and Europe. From today’s New York Times:

The Iraq war, which for years has drawn militants from around the world, is beginning to export fighters and the tactics they have honed in the insurgency to neighboring countries and beyond, according to American, European and Middle Eastern government officials and interviews with militant leaders in Lebanon, Jordan and London.

. . . But early signs of an exodus are clear, and officials in the United States and the Middle East say the potential for veterans of the insurgency to spread far beyond Iraq is significant.

Maj. Gen. Achraf Rifi, general director of the Internal Security Forces in Lebanon, said in a recent interview that “if any country says it is safe from this, they are putting their heads in the sand.” . . .

Militant leaders warn that the situation in Lebanon is indicative of the spread of fighters. “You have 50 fighters from Iraq in Lebanon now, but with good caution I can say there are a hundred times that many, 5,000 or higher, who are just waiting for the right moment to act,” Dr. Mohammad al-Massari, a Saudi dissident in Britain who runs the jihadist Internet forum,, said in an interview on Friday. “The flow of fighters is already going back and forth, and the fight will be everywhere until the United States is willing to cease and desist.”

And what about the strategy of moving the US military focus from Afghanistan to Iraq: how is that helping the President’s global war on terror?

In an April 17 report written for the United States government, Dennis Pluchinsky, a former senior intelligence analyst at the State Department, said battle-hardened militants from Iraq posed a greater threat to the West than extremists who trained in Afghanistan because Iraq had become a laboratory for urban guerrilla tactics.

“There are some operational parallels between the urban terrorist activity in Iraq and the urban environments in Europe and the United States,” Mr. Pluchinsky wrote. “More relevant terrorist skills are transferable from Iraq to Europe than from Afghanistan to Europe,” he went on, citing the use of safe houses, surveillance, bomb making and mortars.

A top American military official who tracks terrorism in Iraq and the surrounding region, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic, said: “Do I think in the future the jihad will be fueled from the battlefield of Iraq? Yes. More so than the battlefield of Afghanistan.”

The Bush/Cheney regime is fond of arguing that “we have to fight them there [Iraq] so we won’t have to fight them here.” But it’s been clear all along that as long as we fight “them” there as though we’re entitled to invade and occupy their lands, we may have to fight them everywhere. Since the regime ignored the intelligence reports predicting this would happen, it’s unlikely they’ll now admit their policies are exacerbating the danger. At least Al Gore has the courage to say it straight out (h/t C&L).

Locked in its bellicose neocon ideology, the regime remains oblivious to the public will, disdainful of intelligence warnings and reckless in ways that are endangering us and our friends. And yet virtually every Republican and a signficant number of Democrats just voted to give the regime yet another authorization to continue its disastrous policies. If you have a chance to meet your Congressional representatives this week, you might want to let them know how you feel about leaving this regime in office, especially with no constraints on how much damage they can do to our national security.

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley