The left half of the blogosphere has been kicking around this Mother Jones article that purports to debunk the “flypaper” theory, that US troops fight the terrorists over there so we’re less likely to face them over there. The thing is, the data is ambiguous at worst; if anything, it shows the opposite of what the lefties think it shows.
Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks (28.3 attacks per year before and 199.8 after) and a 237 percent rise in the fatality rate (from 501 to 1,689 deaths per year). A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, the scene of almost half the global total of jihadist terrorist attacks. But even excluding Iraq and Afghanistan-the other current jihadist hot spot-there has been a 35 percent rise in the number of attacks, with a 12 percent rise in fatalities.
A 35% rise from an average of 28.3 attacks per year is a rise of less than 10 attacks annually; hardly a statistical slam-dunk. And notice that they mention that Iraq is the scene of half of all attacks but conveniently elide the fact that Afghanistan accounts for almost another third; Their data show that more than 80% of all attacks are in the “hot spots.”
To believe, as the MoJo writers do, that this shows that “jihadists have not let the Iraq War distract them from targeting the United States and its allies,” you must believe that the rate of attacks would have otherwise been flat — that the jihadists that US troops are engaging overseas wouldn’t otherwise be making any trouble. That’s just not plausible.