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Dyer speaks about Iraq pullout

Molly Madden | Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Author of the book “After Iraq” and journalist Gwynne Dyer addressed the much-debated topic of how the eventual withdrawal of American troops from Iraq will affect not only the United States but also the world at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies Monday night.

Dyer said in order to understand what might possibly happen in the future, one has to have an understanding of the people and their motives.

“Terrorists are people who have political goals and use acts of terror to achieve these goals,” he said. “Unfortunately for them, they do not have big budgets.”

While many Americans have the idea that terrorists participate in their acts of violence as a means of reaching self-emulation, Dyer tries to discourage this notion.

“The people in charge are almost all revolutionaries,” Dyer said. “These guys are only concerned with achieving their goals. The principle strategy of terror is to drive the opposition, whether it be your own government or a foreign occupier, into becoming so oppressive that the common people turn against the government and are driven into the revolutionaries’ arms.”

Dyer said accomplishing this mission and driving common people to revolt is no easy task.

“People have to be really desperate to radicalize and put the revolutionaries in power,” Dyer said.

In the eyes of many Arabs, their governments have no credibility because they failed their people and sold out to foreigners. However, in the 1970s, a radical religious movement was conceived that brought a united front to the Arab world.

“In Arab countries in the 1970s there was this idea that you could fix all the problems with an applied religious ideology because there did not seem to be any other way to fix things,” Dyer said.

This Islamist ideology argued the Arab Muslims are in their dreadful situations because they have been Westernized, Dyer said. Islamists believe revolution and violence are necessary because they will bring people back to Islam, and then God will be on the revolutionaries’ side and things will start to change for the better.

Dyer said these events preceded the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Bin Laden rose to the top because he had the most plausible strategy – attack the United States with the goal of drawing the U.S. into a military invasion in the Middle East,” Dyer said. “This invasion will invoke a long guerilla war in which the U.S. will be killing Muslims. Bin Laden believed that the common people would see those images and would revolutionize. In that case, 9/11 had the desired effect – partly.”

The United States invaded Afghanistan but recruited the various ethnic militias to overthrow the Taliban – this tactic prevented revolution. When Kabul fell in November 2001, there were only 500 American troops on the ground of Afghanistan, a country with a population of thirty million. However, Bin Laden received what he wanted with the American invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, he said.

“Iraq provided all the images that Bin Laden wanted to get out of Afghanistan,” Dyer stated. “The Middle East has been deeply radicalized by what has happened in Iraq.”

However, Dyer said he believes the pullout from Iraq will not be as bad as many Americans think.

“Apart from oil, these countries are of no interest to the West,” Dyer said. “They have to sell us oil because they need money. You might pay more for oil but they will continue to sell to us out of necessity.”

In addition, Dyer said an “Arab Revolution” is unlikely to happen because many in the region would resist submitting to the strict Islamic laws.

“Most Arabs don’t want to be imposed on like the Taliban did in Afghanistan,” Dyer said. “They do not want to put those type of people in power.”

Dyer said the United States would actually be safer from the fear of attack if the revolutionaries gain a position of power. Since the revolutionaries would be in power, there would be no reason to form an attack.