Thursday, June 08, 2006


Great News in Iraq

Two great pieces of news out of Iraq late yesterday.

As reported by the Associated Press, Iraq’s parliament broke the long stalemate over who would be appointed to the Ministries of Interior, National Security, and Defense. Of course, the AP couldn’t even squeeze in their lead sentence without an obligatory “as violence left at least 19 people dead and 40 wounded, according to police.”

No matter, that’s the tip of the defeatist iceberg, more on that later.

From the AP:
The three, including ministers for national security and interior, were sworn in after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the death of al-Qaida in Iraq chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The new defense minister is Iraqi Army Gen. Abdul-Qader Mohammed Jassim al-Mifarji and Shiites Jawad al-Bolani for interior and Sherwan al-Waili for national security.

The posts are considered crucial for al-Maliki's government to implement a plan allowing Iraqi forces to take over security from the U.S.-led coalition within 18 months, opening the way for the eventual withdrawal of foreign troops. The appointments end a stalemate among Iraq's religious and ethnic groups over the crucial posts.
Also reported by AP, Abu Musab Zarqawi, the lethally effective leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, was killed in a coordinated attack by US air assets, assisted by Iraqi forces, apparently enabled by tips from Iraqi Sunnis and Jordanian Intelligence.

Mysteriously absent from the AP report on Zarqawi was any immediate reference to “ongoing sectarian violence.” Credit the AP with some composure or restraint. Perhaps they were in shock; the story reads pretty straight.

What a day, a 24 hour news cycle with such great news, and indications that news of Zarqawi’s death sparked celebrations in Iraq. Journalists even cheered, in a spontaneous demonstration of joy at their country’s success against terror. (Choke on your drink? Those were Iraqi journalists, natch, not American.)

The Iraqi Government, Security Forces, and the US Military continue to do what has to be done, with great success, and an underwhelming amount of media attentiveness to their stunning successes vice inevitable setbacks.

Today, two items that cause the “loyal opposition” to dismiss, disparage, divert, or otherwise despair over their “worst case” situation in Iraq. (For the rest of us, worst case is Civil War; for the defeatists, worst case is a steadily improving situation and the success of Iraqi Democracy.

Andrew J. McCarthy at National Review Online perhaps captured it best:
It was not democracy that killed Zarqawi. It was the United States military. We began the war on terror with the clear-eyed understanding that Islamic militants cannot be reasoned with; they have to be eradicated. Winning the war on terror will require the resolve to let our forces do their job—despite occasional vilification from fair-weather allies who bask in the protection of American power while shouldering none of its burdens. Today reminds us that we have the power to get the job done. The remaining question is whether we have the will.
Two news items that provide quite a helpful bump in morale, and hopefully, will.

UPDATE: In a more nuanced version of defeatism, the New York Times delivered what strikes me as likely a pre-prepared Obituary on Zarqawi, reported by the ever-reliably defeatist Dexter Filkins.

Here’s how Filkins starts his assessment of what the death of Zarqawi will mean:
By finally eliminating Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the American military and its Iraqi allies have killed the man who put a face on the Iraqi insurgency.

The question now looming over Mr. Zarqawi's death is how large a blow it deals to the guerrilla movement he helped drive to such bloody limits.

The most likely answer, according to American and Iraqi officials and experts who have been following Mr. Zarqawi, is this: While his death could degrade the ability of his group, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, to mount bloody suicide and car bomb attacks, and it may set off a bloody succession struggle, the insurgency and sectarian war that he helped ignite will carry on without him.
Filkins and his fellows at the New York Times, fully invested editorially in the failure of our efforts in Iraq (albeit on the news pages), can only hope. And actively start the backstroking against any positive developments, such as the death of top leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq or the full formation of their government.

Here’s how Filkins concludes his Obituary to Zarqawi:
On the day of Mr. Zarqawi's death, Iraq stood at the brink of all-out civil war, something no one had done more to bring about than he.

Mowaffak Al-Rubaie, the Iraqi national security advisor, said he hoped there was still time to slow the country's slide.

"There is a fracture between the two communities," Mr. Rubaie said. Referring to Mr. Zarqawi, he added, "His work over the last three years has not gone in vain."
The fracture to which Rubaie refers existed long before Zarqawi, and will no doubt outlive him for many years.

But that Azrqawi strove so mightily to insight a Civil War, with the results as paltry as they are, only underscores that, in fact, he failed.

Iraqis, Kurd, Shia, and Sunni, seek something beyond sectarian bloodshed or dictatorial, ethnic based oppression. News today of two very positive steps in the direction they prefer.

Excerpts cross-posted at Milblogs, but you'll also want to sample what other Milbloggers have to say -- and that's quite a bit.

Linked at Mudville Gazette.

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