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London and Iraq

In all the press coverage about the London subway bombings, there has been little comparison made to Iraq. About 50 people were killed in the London bombings. That is about 1 week of casualties in Iraq, maybe even just in Baghdad, which is smaller than London. And the the killings in Iraq go on week after week.

Bush’s argument is that as long as terrorists are killing Iraqis in Iraq, they are not killing Americans or Europeans at home. He has certainly accomplished his mission of bringing horrible misery to ordinary Iraqis. But, is his logic valid? Is he winning the war on terrorism? Certainly there has been no terrorist assault to rival 9/11, but would there have been one anyway, even without a war on terrorism. Was 9/11 a one-time thing? We are not talking about armies, or nations at war, we appear to be talking about a few individuals who are fighting for a cause, but not in a united way — about 20 for 9/11, maybe less than half a dozen in London. Can you fight a war against a few terrorists any more than you can fight a war against an insane sniper who starts shooting people from the top of building?

As John Tierney says in today’s New York Times:

… I think that we’d be better off reconsidering our definition of victory in the war on terror. Calling it a war makes it sound like a national fight against a mighty enemy threatening our society.

But right now the terrorists look more like a small group of loosely organized killers who are less like an army than like lightning bolts – scary but rarely fatal. Except that the risk of being struck by lightning is much higher than the risk of being killed by a terrorist.

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