Yesterday, the State Department released its annual terrorism report, showing that the number of terrorist attacks worldwide rose by 20,000 (40 percent) last year. Iraq accounted for nearly two-thirds of last year’s terrorism-related deaths. The number of terrorism “incidents in Iraq rose 91 percent, from 3,468 in 2005 to 6,630 in 2006.”
At yesterday’s briefing on the report, a reporter asked whether, in light of the skyrocketing death count in Iraq, the Iraq war has “been good for the effort to reduce terrorism generally.” Frank C. Urbancic, the State Department’s Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism, agreed and defended the war, stating that “if the battle against terrorism isn’t in Iraq, it’s going to be somewhere else.”
He then added, “I mean, Iraq is at least a relatively friendly place. The people of Iraq are deserving people and they deserve better and it’s good for us to help them”:
The rapid rise of worldwide terrorist attacks was not inevitable. It is a direct result of the Iraq war, as the new State Department report proves. Last year’s National Intelligence estimate also concluded, “The Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists, … cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.” In a recent survey of foreign policy experts, 81 percent said they believe that the world is becoming less safe.
But according to Urbancic’s logic, it is good that the terrorists are in Iraq — rather than in another country — because it is a “relatively friendly place” and the “people of Iraq are deserving people.”
QUESTION: Okay. Great. And then the second question that I had was looking at the fact — and this may be for you, sir — looking at the fact that the majority of deaths clearly occurred in Iraq, do you believe that the war in Iraq ultimately has been good for the effort to reduce terrorism generally?
MR. URBANCIC: You know, if the battle against terrorism isn’t in Iraq, it’s going to be somewhere else. It started out in Afghanistan. The terrorists are looking for places where they can operate and that’s what they’re doing. So we can fight them in Iraq, we can fight them somewhere else. The fact is they are there and they’re going to find other ungoverned spaces and they’re doing that and they’re expanding — they’re expanding their scope. So yes, I mean, Iraq is at least a relatively friendly place. The people of Iraq are deserving people and they deserve better and it’s good for us to help them.