David Frum’s piece, Frum’s 9-11 Myths, I gather, is supposed to be construed as a rejoinder to Ted Koppel’s recent piece. But notice something. It really doesn’t address Koppel’s argument. Rather Frum simply throws out 3 so-called myths that he claims have been debunked. But this so-called debunking really doesn’t address the substance of Koppel’s argument. Frum’s rejoinder or counter-argument is simply a strawman argument.
That being said, allow me to debunk Frum’s strawman argument. Below are the 3 points that Frum puts up for debunking.
1) We can’t stop terrorism without addressing the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
2) Invading Iraq will lead to a global surge of Islamic terrorism.
3) Terrorism is a product of poverty and despair.
Regarding (1). Who exactly claimed this? Not all Asymmetric warfare is the purview of Islamic insurgents and not all “Islamic Terrorism” is centered around “the Palestine question.” An obvious example is the India-Pakistan conflict that has been hot and cold since post WWII independence from Britain. “Muslim militants” engaged in asymmetric warfare in this conflict are motivated by the “India-Pakistan Question.” The Palestine question is a separate issue revolving around another territorial dispute that originates from the British Mandate.
Now if you want to address the criminal acts of state sponsored murder and genocide by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people and the asymmetric acts of retaliatory violence against Israeli civilians, you might want to see this dispute resolved. And my recommendation would be to keep Washington as far as way as possible. But it’s hardly the case that 4th generational asymmetric warfare that occurs around the world revolves around the “Palestine question,” as if that’s the only ruling class/people conflict at issue in the world.
(1) was a phony claim to begin with.
Regarding (2). There were some who did claim this. I’m not sure this has actually been debunked. Without doubt, the invasion of Iraq led to a regional increase in terrorism and the formation of asymmetric warfare insurgencies. Included in this increased terrorism activity was the formation of “al-qaeda in Iraq.” Before the invasion, there was no al-qaeda in Iraq. Post invasion, there was an al-qaeda in Iraq. Originally, it was comprised of mostly foreign fighters. Now it is a homegrown insurgency group.
My claim, for example, was never that the Iraq invasion would necessarily lead to al-qaeda attacks in the United States(which I suppose is what Frum really means in terms of increased ‘global terrorism.’). There has never been any al-qaeda in the United States; the “9-11 attackers” were a European export. My claim instead is that an attack on Iran would result in terrorist attacks in the United States; these attacks,however, would not be carried out by al-qaeda, but rather by Hezbollah.
Regarding (3). There are some who do claim this. However, I would claim that terrorism, or more accurately, asymmetric tactical violence, is much more of a product of class conflict. However, class conflict should never be pigeonholed into classes defined by income. The wrong question to ask is whether the West is behind global poverty. The proper question to ask is whether the West is behind global political class rule. That answer to that, of course, is yes.
So (1) is really phony claim to begin with. (2) really hasn’t been debunked. (3) is not a universally held claim. You can debunk (3) but it can be recast in better terms that make it a claim much more difficult to debunk.
After these 3 points, Frum dedicates the rest of his post to triumph the security success of the War on Terror, informing us how trivial the attacks have become. In other words, Frum is making a claim that the Institution of “the War on Terror” has resulted in a devolution of al-qaeda and asymmetric warfare in general. But this runs counter to the claims made by the Institution itself. The government is warning about the evolving threat of al-qaeda. So is the threat devolving or is it evolving? Frum claims the WOT institutionalism has devolved the threat of terrorism while the WOT institutionalism itself claims it is evolving. This is classic “doublethink.” And the institutionalism itself seems to be particularly preoccupied with the evolving “homegrown threat.” So, we fought them over there so we wouldn’t have to fight them here, but apparently, as it ends up, we are nonetheless informed we are going to have to fight ourselves over here.
Such is the logic of permanent war…