In his recent article Flypaper:
A Strategy Unfolds, Andrew Sullivan trots out some confirming
evidence for the theory that the U.S. is pursuing a “flypaper
strategy” in Iraq — encouraging the Islamist terror
network to fight American soldiers there so they won’t be attacking
American civilians here.
Mr. Sullivan’s analysis is plausible. Plausible enough that my reaction
to the article, especially the last paragraph in which he urges Bush to
articulate the strategy as a way of scoring domestic political points. was:
“OK, you’ve demonstrated your cleverness. Now would you kindly
zip your lip before you undermine the strategy?”
The leaders of the Islamist terror network are certainly evil and
arguably insane (if only in the general way that all religious
believers are insane) but they’re not stupid. If the
President of the United States got on network T.V. and yelled
“We have a flypaper strategy! We’re encouraging all the world’s
nut-jobs to attack us in Iraq so they won’t attack us in the
U.S.”, just what do you suppose would be the result?
Would our favorite murderous ragheads nod agreeably, say
“Peachy, we’ll play your game and keep attacking you where you
think you’re strongest?” Or would they bend all their efforts
to ginning up another mass-murder in the U.S. just to prove they can
do it and the flypaper isn’t working?
For anyone to talk about a flypaper strategy in public is
irresponsible. For Sullivan to urge that Bush should cop to it in
public in order to one-up his domestic opponents is beyond
irresponsible into idiotic and feckless. The President of the
U.S. would be profoundly derelict in his duty if he courted lethal
danger to American civilians by doing any such thing.
I’m normally a fan of Andrew Sullivan. His writing is witty if
occasionally a bit febrile, and he is clear-eyed on a handful of
subjects that normally induce rectocranial inversion in conservatives.
But today he should be ashamed of himself. He has engaged in the
exact same error he has excoriated in others, which is treating
the rest of the world as a mere backdrop to domestic American
And I have some advice for him: Mr. Sullivan, next time you feel
the urge to be clever in public, do us all a favor and ask yourself
how many innocent lives you might be endangering by running your
mouth. If the answer is more than zero, shut up!