Friday, April 13, 2007

 

Weekend Must Reads

Three must reads for the weekend, if you haven’t seen them already:

Turning the Corner in Iraq, by Charles Krauthammer at NRO

The Troop Surge vs. al Qaeda in Iraq, by John Wixted

The Postwest: A civilization that has become just a dream, by Victor Davis Hanson at NRO

The Krauthammer piece summarizes the very real change in the US approach to the situation in Iraq, and suggests bad faith on the part of critical Democrats. Wixted provides an outstanding, detailed account in the way in which tribal and factional allegiances are shifting, to our advantage. Hanson ever and foremost the historian, dreams about what a war against terrorists [not to be called a Global War on Terror] might have looked like in an ideal world, or the world we used to live in.

Here are excerpts, because really, you should read them, rather than anything I could say, less well.

Turning the Corner in Iraq

By the day, the debate at home about Iraq becomes increasingly disconnected from the realities of the actual war on the ground. The Democrats in Congress are so consumed with negotiating among their factions the most clever, linguistic device to legislatively ensure the failure of the administration’s current military strategy—while not appearing to do so—that they speak almost not at all about the first visible results of that strategy.

(snip)

How at this point—with only about half of the additional surge troops yet deployed—can Democrats be trying to force the U.S. to give up? The Democrats say they are carrying out their electoral mandate from the November election. But winning a single-vote Senate majority as a result of razor-thin victories in Montana and Virginia is hardly a landslide.

Second, if the electorate was sending an unconflicted message about withdrawal, how did the most uncompromising supporter of the war, Sen. Joe Lieberman, win handily in one of the most liberal states in the country?

And third, where was the mandate for withdrawal? Almost no Democratic candidates campaigned on that. They campaigned for changing the course the administration was on last November.

Which the president has done.

The Troop Surge vs. al Qaeda in Iraq

Depressed about the suicide bombing in the Green Zone? Don't be. It is a shocking breach of security to be sure, but it seems that only one person was killed after all. Still, the same Washington Post article that reports that good news adds this helpful little quote to direct your thinking:

"The security plan is dead. If they are able to reach inside the parliament, then we should not talk about the security plan anymore," said Sunni legislator Saleh al-Mutlaq.
"Nowhere is safe," said Ridha Jawad Taqi, a Shiite member of parliament.

And the article adds an equally helpful preemptive strike to guard against the possibility that Bush's troop surge might be perceived as a success:

In a report to be issued Friday, military expert Anthony Cordesman concludes that even if the current U.S. troop increase is a success and creates some degree of stability and political unity, the perception of most Iraqis and others in the Middle East and Europe will be that the United States "lost" the war in Iraq.

So, the "security plan is dead," but just in case it isn't, a new report says it's dead anyway. Read the whole article see how analysis-free agenda journalism works, and then come back and read what I have to say. Reporters are right to be worried that the troop surge might succeed, so they are working overtime to do something about that.

(snip)

Al Qaeda killed 152 Shiites in Tal Afar. If that atrocity is just part of a "civil war" (as everyone mistakenly believes), it should make the Sunni insurgents happy, not angry. But it is causing the Sunni insurgents to turn against al Qaeda instead. The Islamic Army in Iraq is the Sunni insurgency, and they are the ones asking Osama bin Laden to stop al Qaeda from committing these atrocities against Shiites. Why would they do that if al Qaeda is helping them fight their "civil war" against Shiites? It makes no sense from that point of view.
(snip)
Again, these Sunni insurgent groups are unhappy (not happy) with al Qaeda for indiscriminately slaughtering Shiite civilians in Iraq. How does that fit into the "civil war" schema? Answer: it doesn't. Think about the Tal Afar bombing again, the one that you thought was just part of the cycle of violence in a escalating civil war between Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents. There is just one tiny little problem with that superficial analysis: the major Sunni insurgent groups are extremely displeased with bombings like that. That being the case, you should now be able to appreciate the fact that, contrary to the standard analysis, the Tal Afar bombing (like many similar bombings) was not carried out by Sunni insurgents in their civil war against Shiites. Instead, those bombings represent al Qaeda in action. They are, in effect, counterattacks in our war on terror, not retaliatory strikes in a civil war.
The Sunni insurgents have come to realize that al Qaeda is not helping them in their fight against American troops. Instead, al Qaeda is trying to provoke a civil war, which benefits al Qaeda alone. That is, al Qaeda is trying to get Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army to once again start executing Sunnis in Baghdad. That's why the Sunni insurgents are not happy. They have no interest in a civil war because it does not benefit them in any way. They want al Qaeda to help fight the Americans, and that's what al Qaeda was doing for a while. It's what George Bush wanted al Qaeda to do as well (at least I suspect as much). But al Qaeda came up with a fiendish alternative plan, and it has been amazingly effective up until now. Predictably, in response to al Qaeda's repeated atrocities against Shiite civilians, most Americans and all Democratic politicians think they are watching a civil war unfold in Iraq and have become demoralized as a result (just as al Qaeda knew they would -- it's always that way with the weak-willed America).
Note how radically different -- and well supported -- my analysis is compared to the one provided by that AP reporter. The American public gets its education from such reporters, and that's why they think that Iraq has just descended into a civil war that we have no business being in the middle of. The true situation is far different.
All of this should also serve to update your thinking about Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army, which, contrary to what you might believe, was killing Sunnis in Baghdad in an effort to stop those atrocities being carried out by al Qaeda against Shiite civilians. But now the Mahdi Army is cooperating with the troop surge, so those executions have come way down. Perhaps Muqtada realized that he was just playing into al Qaeda's hands (and the truth is, he was).
Unfortunately, last month, al Qaeda successfully slaughtered many hundreds of Shiites, and that increase in violence offset the decrease in violence by the Mahdi Army, so overall civilian casualties in Iraq remained essentially unchanged. However, the fact that the Sunni insurgency is beginning to resist al Qaeda, and the fact that they have even implored Osama bin Laden to call off attacks against civilians by al Qaeda in Iraq could be highly significant. If the Mahdi Army continues to cooperate (and all signs suggest that they will despite the Tal Afar bombing) and if al Qaeda can be induced to stop slaughtering civilians, then the troop surge will be seen as a resounding success because civilian casualties will come way down.
(snip)

Al Qaeda has already torpedoed its reputation in Iraq and throughout the Muslim world because of what they have done in Iraq (as I documented here), and now even the Sunni insurgents have turned on them. For al Qaeda in Iraq, it is a race against time, and, for the first time ever, it looks to me like they are beginning to lose that race.

(Via Instapundit)

The Postwest: A civilization that has become just a dream

I recently had a dream that British marines fought back, like their forefathers of old, against criminals and pirates. When taken captive, they proved defiant in their silence. When released, they talked to the tabloids with restraint and dignity, and accepted no recompense.

I dreamed that a kindred German government, which best knew the wages of appeasement, cut-off all trade credits to the outlaw Iranian mullahs — even as the European Union joined the Americans in refusing commerce with this Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic, and thuggish regime.
NATO countries would then warn Iran that their next unprovoked attack on a vessel of a member nation would incite the entire alliance against them in a response that truly would be of a “disproportionate” nature.
In this apparition of mine, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, in Syria at the time, would lecture the Assad regime that there would be consequences to its serial murdering of democratic reformers in Lebanon, to fomenting war with Israel by means of its surrogates, and to sending terrorists to destroy the nascent constitutional government in Iraq.
She would add that the United States could never be friends with an illegitimate dictatorship that does its best to destroy the only three democracies in the region. And then our speaker would explain to Iran that a U.S. Congresswoman would never detour to Tehran to dialogue with a renegade government that had utterly ignored U.N. non-proliferation mandates and daily had the blood of Americans on its hands.
(snip)

And then I woke up, remembering that the West of old lives only in dreams. Yes, the new religion of the post-Westerner is neither the Enlightenment nor Christianity, but the gospel of the Path of Least Resistance — one that must lead inevitably to gratification rather than sacrifice.
Once one understands this new creed, then all the surreal present at last makes sense: life in the contemporary West is so good, so free, so undemanding, that we will pay, say, and suffer almost anything to enjoy its uninterrupted continuance — and accordingly avoid almost any principled act that might endanger it.

One of my favorite movies is Raising Arizona. At the end of the movie, protagonist H.I. dreams a dream of the future. He sees a large, loving family we want to believe will be his. He says, “it seemed real.”

I wonder. Does Hanson dream a dream that should seem so remote? It seemed like it should be the way the world works out. We all should want it to work out that way? So why does it seem so surreal?

Is it the fault of the dream he dreams? Or is it us, do we live in some unsteady slumberous state ourselves? Can anyone blame us for hoping that, maybe someday, we might wake from our slumber, rub the sleep from our eyes, and find the world as it always should have been?

I only hope it doesn’t take the dreadful wake-up of a terrorist nuclear detonation. We’d wake up to a whole new world then, and the chance of ever living in a place of Hanson’s imagining will never be possible again.

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