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They told us so

October 01, 2006|SONNI EFRON

Declassified portions of a National Intelligence Estimate released last week concluded that the war in Iraq has created new terrorists. Some experts predicted precisely that before the U.S. invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan. Current asked five of them what would they do now.

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The expert:

Joseph Cirincione

senior vice president for national security, Center for American Progress

Prediction:

"A U.S. invasion -- with or without a coalition behind it -- is going to spawn a massive new wave of recruits into terrorist ranks." (Jan. 1, 2003)

Advice:

"We should extract U.S. troops from this civil war in Iraq in a careful, but sustained way that redeploys them by the end of 2007 to other bases in the region, Europe and home. Most important, we must shift at least one division back to the country that they never should have left, Afghanistan, before that war too is lost."

The expert:

Magnus Ranstorp

research director, Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies, Swedish National Defense College

Prediction:

There "are amateur [jihadists] who are mobilized by [Islamist] rhetoric... [who] will act spontaneously, particularly if and when war breaks out." (Feb. 3, 2003)

Advice:

"The U.S. must avoid using the war on terror for domestic political gain, as the rhetoric only fuels anti-Americanism around the globe. It must stabilize Iraq, otherwise the conflict will eventually bite back through terrorism within the U.S., and must work with a long-term strategy because the enemy thinks in centuries. Ultimately, the U.S. must spearhead a Marshall Plan in the Middle East.

The expert:

William B. Quandt

professor of politics, University of Virginia

Prediction:

"With anti-Americanism already widespread in the Arab world there's a real danger that war with Iraq will produce more recruits for terrorism." (Oct. 18, 2002)

Advice:

"Focus less on military victory over terrorists in Iraq and more on forging a political coalition of Iraqis (including Sunnis) who will work to avoid full-scale civil war; put more troops into Afghanistan to fight resurgent Taliban, fewer in Iraq; cut the rhetoric of 'transforming' the Middle East and rediscover stability as a worthy goal; revive Arab-Israeli peacemaking; and put a stiff domestic tax on gasoline."

The expert:

Shibley Telhami

Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development, University of Maryland

Prediction:

"War with Iraq is likely to create more instability and more motivated [terrorist] recruits." (Feb. 9, 2003)

Advice:

"The U.S. must announce withdrawal from Iraq within two years. Withdrawal weakens Al Qaeda because most Iraqis and other Arabs root against the U.S., not for Al Qaeda, which has little chance of dominating Iraq as 94% of Iraqis reject it. We should allocate more resources to Afghanistan and assemble an international coalition to push for comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace and a new regime on the proliferation of nuclear weapons."

The expert:

Ted Galen Carpenter

vice president for defense and foreign policy studies, Cato Institute

Prediction:

" A [U.S.] attack on Iraq [would be] perceived throughout the Islamic world as imperialist aggression. Thousands of new recruits would flock to Al Qaeda...." (Dec. 9, 2002)

Advice:

"It is long past time to terminate the misguided Iraq mission. We need to have a firm withdrawal timetable measured in months, not years. The current 'stay and die' strategy should appeal only to masochists. Our withdrawal should be complemented by a diplomatic initiative to engage Iraq's neighbors, including Iran, to ensure that the violence does not spread into a regional conflict."

--SONNI EFRON

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