Saturday, November 25, 2006
Whenever you read a report that claims that the Iraq war has helped al Qaeda recruit, it is equally important to ask whether it has also helped al Qaeda's enemies to recruit. Yes, the jihad is getting larger, as all armies do during the course of a war. The question is, are the enemies of the jihad increasing in number even faster than the jihad? We have long argued that it is essential in the long war to polarize the Arab and Muslim world by backing the jihadis into forced and unforced errors that create enemies of our enemy. The Mudville Gazette writes about the latest evidence that whatever happens to Iraq, it is unlikely to become a "haven" from which attacks will be launched against the West. Quite the contrary. Many jihadis are dying there at Arab hands, which is exactly what we need to have happen on a large scale throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
CWCID: Glenn Reynolds.
There's also a good rundown at The Captain's Journal (link at the end) which includes an assessment from Strategy Page:
Over a dozen tribes are now pro-government, with tribemen joining the police force, and serving in their own neighborhoods. Recruiting was slow at first, even with the approval of the chiefs. Only 30 stepped forward last June, but now there are 1,300 tribesmen in the police force. During that same period, some 750 al Qaeda and Baath terrorists have been killed in Ramadi, the center of al Qaeda power in Anbar. There are only a few hundred of them left, and the government controls two-thirds of the city. During that same period, the number of terrorist attacks, including roadside bombs, has also fallen by two-thirds.
The discussion goes on to suggest our rules of engagement in this war--this part of the war, at any rate--are too limited and limiting, an assessment I've shared since the first battle for Fallujah where it seemed we pulled back from annihilating what was at that time a confined al Qaeda and insurgent threat, not for operational reasons but because it was engendering bad PR. That's one hell of a way to run a war, and is doomed to failure of one sort or another. (Not that we shouldn't try to win the PR campaign as well, but in my estimation when you are fighting a war nothing succeeds like success on the battlefield.)
I have only a minor quibble with the statement that whatever happens to Iraq, it is unlikely to become a "haven" from which attacks will be launched against the West--because even though it may be true, I'm not sure we should delude ourselves that it is inherently the case. And such thinking may lead us to think we can ignore the ME with no consequence to ourselves, which, on the face of it, is absurd.
Besides, if in fact we are having a positive effect in building alliances and directing opposition against the enemy, by what rationale is it intelligent to give up that advantage? That is a question the "leave and go home" crowd aren't, in my opinion, able to adequately address.
"Many jihadis are dying there at Arab hands, which is exactly what we need to have happen on a large scale throughout the Arab and Muslim world."
I think you'll get your wish. People are starting to kill each other right and left. I just don't think it will be as organized as you'd hoped.
I happen to share L-B's worry, but I am also aware that I am basing that on news reports out of Iraq - not the best data for that sort of thing.
As TH has noted before: They don't have to like us, they just have to like freedom.
To which I would add: they don't have to become Switzerland. Brazil or even Cambodia is good enough.