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Saturday, December 17, 2005

The humiliation of al Qaeda in Iraq continues 

Al-Qaida in Iraq denied in an Internet statement Saturday that it had intentionally curbed violence during this week's elections, saying it carried out multiple attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces.

How humiliating. How delightful.

Got that? Al Qaeda's election day efforts, whatever they amounted to, were so feeble that it was forced to deny that it had "intentionally curbed violence." Apparently they curbed the violence by accident.

What a bunch of losers. Keep saying that, because in this war more than most, the depth and breadth of our enemy's humiliation is a better metric of our progress than the degradation of its military capability.

The humiliation of al Qaeda and the discrediting of its ideology is the key to ultimate victory in the wider war. Whatever the importance of this week's elections to Iraqis and the political aspirations of Arabs everywhere, from the West's perspective they were but a means to an end: the destruction of al Qaeda as a credible force. The sooner that al Qaeda's financiers and pool of recruits conclude that its ideology is a dead end and its leadership is incompetent, the sooner we win the wider war.

If Iraq is the occasion for al Qaeda's first real defeat in the Arab world, that will confirm the strategic relationship between that battleground and the wider war against the jihad. Critics of the Bush administration will either deny this benefit on factual grounds -- al Qaeda, according to these critics, is winning in Iraq -- or argue that it was unintended, as the war was "about WMD," or to grab oil, or to benefit Israel, or about Bush's need to avenge his father. If you still honestly believe that we did not intend to fight al Qaeda in Iraq all along, read this column from January 29, 2003 by Col. Austin Bay. He did not get everything right, but he -- and we can assume the American army -- got this right:
The massive American build-up around Iraq serves as a baited trap that Al Qaeda cannot ignore. Failure to react to the pending American attack would demonstrate Al Qaeda's impotence. For the sake of their own reputation (as well as any notion of divine sanction), Al Qaeda's cadres must show CNN and Al Jazeera they are still capable of dramatic endeavor.

This ain't theory. Al Qaeda's leaders and fighters know it, and the rats are coming out of their alleys. In Afghanistan, several hundred Al Qaeda fighters in the Pakistani border region have gone on the offensive. They specifically link their attacks to America's pending assault on Baghdad. Al Qaeda terror teams are reportedly moving into Western Europe.

Al Qaeda's offensive thrust in Afghanistan produces open targets for the 82nd Airborne Division. Moving and communicating terror cells are terror cells more vulnerable to police detection. Moreover, the terrorists are no longer operating on their time line, but on America's time line. The United States creates a situation where Al Qaeda either loses ideological credibility or must risk operations during a time of focused U.S. intelligence activity.

The strategic objectives in the war on Iraq were manifold, and far deeper and more complex than the reductionist characterization of them claimed by the war's opponents. Also, protocol prevented us from directly expressing some of those reasons -- it would have been neither cool nor effective for our President to say that we needed to hit Iraq to bait a trap. But the arguments were there ex ante, and people who talk to our soldiers every day were making them.

UPDATE: Strategypage channels TigerHawk.

6 Comments:

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Sun Dec 18, 09:49:00 AM:

Hawk,

Your gymnastic contortions are a bit embarrassing.

It used to be defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq, now it's humiliation. Maybe we should just do a parody TV special about them. You know...A.Q Punk'd.

We meant to use it as a baited trap all along? This is why Cheney said we'd be greeted as liberators? This is why Rumsfeld predicted we'd be there less than six months?

I'm glad things are going well in your mind. Maybe the Islamic Republic of War-torn Iraq will flourish into a society that treats Al Qaeda the way we do the John Birch society while chuckling at their own predictive wiliness to draw those dumb ol' terrorists into a baited trap.

Gosh I hope so.  

By Anonymous Akatsukami, at Sun Dec 18, 10:59:00 AM:

Of course, al-Qa'ida isn't the cross between a British public school sports team and a suddenly repentant Republican that is the progressives' wet dream. The Muslim fundamentalists have no intention of ever conceding that they've lost fair and square, and retiring from the field. Their public humiliation is a prerequisite for their defeat, so that when their recruiters come around and tell impressionable children, "Fight and die for Allah!", the potential recruits will scornfully say, "STFU, old man".  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sun Dec 18, 02:06:00 PM:

We *were* greeted as liberators, genius. Didn't you see the LIVE footage of cheering crowds from Basra to Baghdad? Bedouin waving, and children running alongside the tanks rolling toward Saddam's palaces? If you're as interested in Iraq as you seem to be, you should have.

I don't recall anyone saying it would take "six months;" quite the contrary, I seem to remember the phrases "long haul" and "as long as it takes." Perhaps a link would be in order?

You know, never mind. Even if you find one, it won't matter. If it wasn't repeated often enough for me to notice but "as long as it takes" was, then it's obvious that the latter was intended for my consumption more than the former, yes?  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Mon Dec 19, 10:12:00 AM:

Screwy: You're right. You should be embarrassed. Your lack of strategic understanding, the complete inability to acknowledge not just progress but complete and obvious victories regarding Iraq and the war and al qaeda demonstrates an utter blindspot. It is the blindspot that comes, as I've often said about you, from a philosophical attraction to pacifism, or alternatively, lunatic partisanship (or its corollary, BDS).

Tigerhawk's point is pretty clear if you pay attention to WHAT AL QAEDA itself says. Listen to your enemy. Iraq has become a magnet for Islamists. Previously, it was Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kashmir. We actually gave thought to using Kashmir as a similar magnet before Iraq. The problem was that it rapidly escalated into a near nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India. No such risk with Iraq.

So, no, there is no contortion going on wahtsoever, accept with respect to your tangled up logic of strategy and war.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Tue Dec 20, 07:23:00 PM:

Screwy asks if we meant to use Iraq as a trap.

Actually, if you have been reading the military blogs, we have been using Iraq as a trap. Why didn't we tell you, Screwy? Because then the enemy would know. It is called the "flypaper strategy". Attract the enemy to attack you, then kill them. I is a difficult strategem to employ but it has been working rather well, actually.
On a more serious note. Rumsfeld was wrong about the 6 months part, so was Clinton about Bosnia. My cousin is there right now with thwe US Army, no exit strategy, you know. His older brother spent two years serving in Germany 50 years after the war ended.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Tue Dec 20, 07:26:00 PM:

Sorry for the typos, I can spell but my keyboarding skills are rusty.  

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