Have caught a bit of the GOP presidential "debate" in South Carolina last night, and I'm simply fascinated at how almost all the candidates (with the honorable exception of Ron Paul) embrace what somebody has dubbed the "puppy dog" theory on the war in Iraq. If we leave Iraq, the contention goes, the terrorists will follow us home -- presumably just like a "Mommy he followed me home" puppy dog.
That is ludicrous. First, if anyone believes Osama and those he organizes and/or inspires aren't thinking about and probably planning an attack within the United States right now, even as the war is going on, they must be incredibly naive. I don't know why an attack hasn't come yet -- though it's worth noting that before 9/11 it was usually a few years betweeen al-Qaida attacks, so it shouldn't be amazing that one hasn't come yet. Presumably the attempts to disrupt international terrorist financial networks and harden some domestic targets have had an impact, but I would be amazed if plans have not been in the works to hit the U.S. The war in Iraq certainly hasn't prevented terrorist attacks in Spain, England, Indonesia and elsewhere. The notion that it's keeping them from attacking the U.S. is silly: if anything it provides more incentive to try.
It's also important to remember that the Iraq war has served as an invaluable recruiting tool for al-Qaida and similar jihadist outfits. The open-ended U.S. occupation convinces many Muslims inclined to be radical that the U.S. has not only invaded and occupied a Muslim country but that it plans to occupy it for a long time and change it in ways many Muslims will not like -- that the U.S. is indeed a "crusader" nation that intends to destroy Islam. It's more than possible that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would make it more difficult for jihadists to recruit people willing to risk their lives to hurt the United States.