It has been fashionable -- indeed, de rigueur in political and media circles -- to view contemptuously President Bush's assertion that we are fighting the terrorists in Iraq so we wouldn't have to fight them here. Even conservative commentators have tended to tiptoe around the proposition. We are all far too sophisticated to believe such simplicities. Nor will any self-respecting public chatterer even raise the little matter of America not being hit by terrorism on our soil for the almost seven years since Sept. 11.
And yet the undeniable facts certainly would justify a debate -- if not yet a consensus of agreement -- on President Bush's assertions. Regarding killing Islamist terrorists in Iraq rather than New York City, consider the numbers: According to USA Today in September 2007, more than 19,000 insurgents had been killed by coalition forces since 2003. The number obviously has gone up in the nine months since then (these were midsurge numbers), but I don't have reliable updated numbers.
Of course, most of those 19,000 killed insurgents were not foreign terrorists, but local Iraqis moved to action by our occupation. However, according to studies by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and by the Defense Intelligence Agency, foreign-born jihadists in Iraq are believed to number between 4 and10 percent of the total insurgent strength. So it is reasonable to assume that we have killed -- as of nine months ago -- between 800 and 1,900 non-Iraqi terrorists who otherwise would have been plying their trade elsewhere. It only took a couple of dozen to commit the atrocities of Sept. 11.
Moreover, we know specifically that Al-Qaida in Iraq has been decimated recently. According to the British newspaper The Times in February: "Al-Qaeda in Iraq faces an 'extraordinary crisis'. The terrorist group's security structure suffered 'total collapse'."
And last month, Strategy Page reported: "Al Qaeda web sites are making a lot of noise about 'why we (al-Qaida) lost in Iraq'. Western intelligence agencies are fascinated by the statistics being posted in several Arab language sites. Not the kind of stuff you read about in the Western media. According to al Qaeda, their collapse in Iraq was steep and catastrophic. If you can read Arabic, you can easily find these pro-terrorism sites, and see for yourself how al Qaeda is trying to explain its own destruction (in Iraq) to its remaining supporters."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.