March 13, 2008

"A fatal threat to the terrorist organization..."

From Al-Qaida's Fading Victory: The Madrid Precedent, By Austin Bay

...Al-Qaida needed a Madrid Precedent. The "9-11 Precedent" hadn't worked as planned. Rather than perishing like a fire-struck Sodom or becoming "quagmired" in Afghanistan like the lurching Soviet military, the United States responded aggressively and creatively, and with an unexpected agility.

Moreover, America had chosen not merely to topple al-Qaida's Taliban allies, but had made the bold decision to go to "the heart of the matter" and wage a war for the terms of modernity in the center of the politically dysfunctional Arab Muslim Middle East.
[Well put!]

Don't think that al-Qaida's leaders didn't know that stroke -- establishing a democracy in Iraq -- represented a fatal threat to the terrorist organization.

Al-Qaida's dark genius had been to connect the Muslim world's angry, humiliated and isolated young men with a utopian fantasy preaching the virtue of violence. That utopian fantasy sought to explain and then redress roughly 800 years of Muslim decline. The rage energizing al-Qaida's ideological cadres certainly predated the post-Desert Storm presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia.

In February 2004, al-Qaida's "emir in Iraq," Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, bluntly noted he faced defeat. Islamist radicals were "failing to enlist support" and had "been unable to scare the Americans into leaving." Once the Iraqis established their own democracy, Zarqawi opined, al-Qaida was lost. Moreover, a predominantly Arab Muslim democracy offered the Muslim world an alternative to al-Qaida's liturgy of embedded grievance. Zarqawi's solution to looming failure was to murder Iraqi Shias and ignite a "sectarian war."...

And "sectarian war" was itself a disastrous policy. When it failed, as it has in Iraq, the result was a whole nation waking up and realizing who the realbad guys are. Iraq is now immunized against al Qaeda and similar groups. (And, despite what some silly people say, they are probably immunized against friendliness to the world's #1 terror-supporting nation, right next door.)

It's pleasant for me to read this, confirming what I've been arguing for so long. (See #'s 1 and 2 on my list of reasons for invading Iraq.)

And one thing that has amazed me is how blind people are to the simple fact that the result of the Iraq campaign has been that our enemies have been forced to react to our moves, rather than us reacting to theirs. This is something that has been stunningly obvious for years now, but most people refuse to see it.

In any war, seizing the initiative gives you a big advantage. But it's much more important in irregular warfare, against a shadowy and elusive foe. The normal pattern in terrorist campaigns is that something goes ka-boom!, and then we scramble around looking for clues. Wouldn't it be good if we could somehow choose a place to fight, far from our own civilians, garrison it with our troops, plus lots of potential allies, and then force al Qaeda to come there and fight us!

Posted by John Weidner at March 13, 2008 6:23 AM
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