The recent run of denial on Iraq has brought back to the fore what a year ago was known as the 'fly paper' thesis.
Namely, that the outbreak of chaos, terrorism and insurgency in Iraq is actually a good thing since it allows us to kill 'the terrorists' in Iraq rather than wait for them to come to our own shores.
Thus the 'fly paper' analogy.
Gregg Easterbrook, in The New Republic, embraces this concept in a new article even today. "What if the invasion of Iraq is having the unintended consequence of drawing terrorists and killers to that country, where our army can fight them on our terms?," he asks.
The only thing complicated about this argument is calibrating a hierarchy of all the levels of foolishness it embodies. Logically it is nonsensical; strategically it is moronic; morally it is close to indefensible.
The key fallacy, as so many have pointed out, is the notion that there are a finite number of 'terrorists' who we can kill and be done with.
Added to this, is the idea -- as antiquated as it is ridiculous -- that fighting 'the terrorists' in Iraq prevents them from hitting us in the United States. Have these fools heard about globalization? Grant the false premise that the Iraqi insurgency is being run by bin Laden. He can't spare a couple dozen jihadis to come over here to spring another 9/11 on us? What about al Qaida demonstrates their strategy of hitting us where our defenses are strongest?
As a TPM reader put it to me both hilariously and brilliantly more than a year ago, this 'fly paper' thesis is like saying we're going to build one super dirty hospital where we can fight the germs on our own terms.
Clearly that analogy points in some uncomfortable directions. But the salient point is clear: everyone who is not an utter fool knows that the number of young and disaffected men in the Muslim world who are potentially willing to take up arms against America is, for practical geopolitical purposes, all but infinite. Killing those already bent on suicide missions againt the US is undeniably a good thing. But doing so in a way that is guaranteed to replace them with ten new volunteers is the most foolish way to go about it. It is the classic case of dousing the fire with gasoline.
Of course that leaves untended the fact the guerillas we're blowing up in Iraq aren't the folks running the safe houses in Karachi and Peshawar who constitute the real threat. Adrift as well is the straightforward matter that turning Iraq into a killing field isn't really compatible with making it into a redoubt of democracy, prosperity and western values.
Knocking holes in this argument is really too easy and after a bit beside the point. The real problem with this argument is its proponents -- folks who seem inclined to put insipid wordplay above the lives of American soldiers and marines, indeed, above against the future security of the country itself.