I'll warn readers in advance, this is a day for me to be a bit irate. While I have had a number of complaints about the entire affair in Iraq since its inception, one of my chief complaints has been that a chief administration rationale for our continued presence in that country seems faulty. Following the discovery that there were no WMDs, a consistent argument has been made from Bush administration supporters that Iraq was a central front in the war on terror.
My argument against this has always been that ANYWHERE can be a central front where one can fight terrorists providing you are willing to send United States troops to an easily accessible area overseas to provide targets for said terrorists. While the theory that Saddam had any credible ties to Al Qeda has been quite satisfactorily debunked, I will be the first to admit that they certainly showed up on force after we arrived. If you send thousands of our troops into Sudan and set up some makeshift camps, you can start the clock counting down the time it will take for some angry people to show up and start shooting.
And today we read an Associated Press report saying that the levels of violence in Basra have dropped to 1/10th of what they previously were since the British pulled out of the area.
Attacks against British and Iraqi forces have plunged by 90 percent in southern Iraq since London withdrew its troops from the main city of Basra, the commander of British forces there said Thursday.
The presence of British forces in downtown Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, was the single largest instigator of violence, Maj. Gen. Graham Binns told reporters Thursday on a visit to Baghdad's Green Zone.
"We thought, 'If 90 percent of the violence is directed at us, what would happen if we stepped back?'" Binns said.
I'm not nearly as optimistic as Jeffrey Feldman, who seems to think that this could "change everything" overnight. But I will agree with him that this news should draw attention to four little words.
The change can be summed up in 4 simple words:
troops leave, violence drops
And you know what else? If you're hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, and it's giving you a headache, you might want to stop. I can't count the number of times that people suggesting that we might be the nexus of some of the violence in Iraq have been called all manner of unpleasant names. But when you read those four words, and put them in context with the AP article, how can you not stare at the page and say, "Well... DUH."