Mad World

Tell me again why it was a good idea to invade Iraq and ignore Darfur:

Five-Year Intelligence Assessment: Terror Threat Driven By Instability In Middle East, Africa

The terrorism threat to the United States over the next five years will be driven by instability in the Middle East and Africa, persistent challenges to border security and increasing Internet savvy, says a new intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press.

Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks are considered the most dangerous threats that could be carried out against the U.S. But those threats are also the most unlikely because it is so difficult for al-Qaida and similar groups to acquire the materials needed to carry out such plots, according to the internal Homeland Security Threat Assessment for the years 2008-2013.

The al-Qaida terrorist network continues to focus on U.S. attack targets vulnerable to massive economic losses, casualties and political “turmoil,” the assessment said.

[…]

Long waits for immigration and more restrictive European refugee and asylum programs will cause more foreigners to try to enter the U.S. illegally. Increasing numbers of Iraqis are expected to migrate to the U.S. in the next five years; and refugees from Somalia and Sudan could increase because of conflicts in those countries, the assessment said.

Because there is a proposed cap of 12,000 refugees from Africa, officials expect more will try to enter the U.S. illegally as well. Officials predict the same scenario for refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Intelligence officials predict the pool of radical Islamists within the U.S. will increase over the next five years due partly to the ease of online recruiting means. Officials foresee “a wave of young, self-identified Muslim ‘terrorist wannabes’ who aspire to carry out violent acts.”

[Emphasis mine]

A wave of young Muslims turning to radical Islam? Where have we heard that before?

Look, this is pretty obvious–instability leads to extremism and extremism leads to terrorism. People who live in well-off, stable countries have far fewer reasons to turn to Islamic extremism then someone who lives in a corrupt, war-torn or unstable country.

Unfortunately, one of the staples of America’s foreign policy, the war in Iraq, wound up as both a massive destabilizer and a terrorist recruiting tool.  And since we were so heavily invested in Iraq, we weren’t focusing on other unstable countries  such as Sudan, Somalia, and the rapidly-disintegrating Pakistan.

In the coming years, we’re going to need a far more comprehensive foreign policy, one that promotes stability and prosperity everywhere, not just in a handful of belligerent nations.  Such rogue states will have to be dealt with, yes, but not at the expense of poor or failing states, which can turn out to be just as threatening to our national security as rogue states.

The Obama administration is going to have to keep a lot of balls in the air in order to successfully balance America’s foreign policy between standing up to states that must be kept in line and assisting those states nearing the edge of a dangerous, violent cliff.

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