Among Democrats and even many Republicans, it is by now accepted wisdom that the war in Iraq brought huge numbers of holy warriors to the anti-American cause. But is it true? I don't think so.Well, what do you know.
This point is interesting:
A second striking fact about Islamism and the Iraq war is that the arrival of foreign holy warriors is deradicalizing the local population -- the exact opposite of what happened in Afghanistan. In the Soviet war, the "Arab Afghans" arrived white-hot -- their radicalization had occurred at home in the 1960s and 1970s, when Islamic fundamentalism replaced secular Arab nationalism as the driving intellectual force. On the subcontinent, Arab holy warriors accelerated extreme Islamism among both Afghans and Pakistanis. We are still living with the results.
In Iraq, as we have seen with the anti-al-Qaeda, Sunni Arab "Awakenings," Sunni extremism is now in retreat. More important, the gruesome anti-Shiite tactics of extremist groups, combined with the much-quoted statements made by former Sunni insurgents about the positive actions of the United States in Iraq, have caused a great deal of intellectual turbulence in the Arab world.
I'd take this even a step further in the direction that was originally argued about the "fly-paper" theory. Iraq attracted many insurgents, by this articles estimate about 25,000. This drew those willing to take action to a theater where they could be handled by our military who has the skill to do that fight. The result appears to be that the insurgents alienated the locals who have moved either away from them or completely against their standard. And the effect should also de-radicalize the populations where they came from.
I'm not saying the effect is overwhelming, but it is having an effect in the middle-east that not only helps the majority of populations there, but helps the US and the rest of the world. It would be interesting to hear someone who is knowledgeable on the topic speak to the effect.