Friday, December 16, 2005
"Then Bush has said it correctly"
Another thing many Sunnis seemed to agree on was the possibility of a reconciliation between the Americans and the Sunnis, and a distancing of the Sunnis from some of the Al Qaeda-linked insurgent groups. Many were critical of American troops, saying, as Mr. Saleh did, that "they came as liberators, but stayed on as occupiers." But pressed on the question of an American troop withdrawal, most seemed cautious, favoring a gradual drawdown.
"Let's have stability, and then the Americans can go home," said Mr. Sattar, the store owner. Told that this sounded similar to President Bush's formula for a troop withdrawal, he replied: "Then Bush has said it correctly".
You don't hear that every day.
We should be especially heartened by the mounting evidence that the broadening legitimacy of the Iraqi government and the growing competence of the Iraqi army is cleaving the Sunni resistance -- which has been using violence to negotiate a better deal -- from al Qaeda. Western defeatists have resisted the idea that this was happening at all -- less than three months ago, Juan Cole (there I go again) quoted from an email he received from an anonymous "observer" in Iraq. From a post titled "Security situation in Baghdad sinking like the Titanic":
Notwithstanding Al-Hayat's claim that Zarqawi and the Sunni resistance are not together, my street listeners claim otherwise. My folks are convinced that the two groups, broadly defined, are together, "100 percent" is the claim of certainty.
Whether or not Cole's correspondant was ingenuous, the situation is obviously very different today. And not just today, the day after a national election, but last week. For some reason, news organizations saw fit to re-broadcast an old tape from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, including a previously unpublicized segment in which he called upon insurgency groups "to unite." When did he make that tape? Back in September, when Cole's "observer" was reporting that the insurgents were "100 percent" together.
Iraq will come through the Sunni insurgency, even if it takes many years. If wisdom prevails over sectarian, ethnic and tribal divisions in the coming months -- admittedly, a huge "if" -- the Sunni insurgency might shrink to "background noise" quite quickly. Even if that optimistic scenario unfolds, however, we must not retreat from Iraq before we have humiliated al Qaeda (an essential victory condition for the United States) and extinguished any possibility that Arab Muslims will perceive our withdrawal as a defeat. When Sunni Arab insurgents understand that the United States cannot withdraw until it has disgraced al Qaeda (a point they may now grasp), there will be the basis for a deal with the United States and the government of Iraq. Once Iraq's Sunni Arabs conclude that al Qaeda is an obstacle to their ambitions rather than a useful tool, there will be many fewer places in Mesopotamia for al Qaeda to hide, and we will be on the verge of a significant victory in the wider war.
By Cassandra, at Fri Dec 16, 08:32:00 AM:
less than three months ago, Juan Cole (there I go again) quoted from an email...
It's so sad: TigerHawk is turning into nothing more than a mouthpiece for Juan Cole. Is this what I come here for?
By TigerHawk, at Fri Dec 16, 09:35:00 AM:
I must admit, I am hideously drawn to Cole's pronouncements, in much the same way I gape at burning cars by the side of the road or stare at the crash footage from a NASCAR race. The most depressing thing about Cole is this: he obviously knows an enormous amount about the region, in the sense of having travelled extensively, knowing lots of people, and reading lots of stuff in the source language. He then takes that precious knowledge, which could so benefit public discussion of the war, and reasons through it so bizarrely that the output is mangled beyond all value. Today's post, in which he absurdly siezed upon this single episode of al-Zarqawi slipping through to argue that all was lost, is classic Juan Cole.
By David, at Fri Dec 16, 05:49:00 PM:
What I find incredible is that Cole has enabled comments....is he mad? He has been getting polite people on refuting so many of his claims, that it is making him look so uncouth.
By Cassandra, at Fri Dec 16, 05:54:00 PM:
He's not thin-skinned, that's for certain.