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June 24, 2005

Why WOT Defeat Is Inevitable

Max Boot on why defeat is inevitable...for the terrorists:

No wonder public support for the war is plummeting and finger-to-the-wind politicians are heading for the exits: All the headlines out of Iraq recently have been about the rebels' reign of terror. But, lest we build up the enemy into 10-foot-tall supermen, it's important to realize how weak they actually are. Most of the conditions that existed in previous wars won by guerrillas, from Algeria in the 1950s to Afghanistan in the 1980s, aren't present in Iraq.

The rebels lack a unifying organization, ideology and leader. There is no Iraqi Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro or Mao Tse-tung. The top militant is Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has alienated most of the Iraqi population, even many Sunnis, with his indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

Support for the insurgency is confined to a minority within a minority — a small portion of Sunni Arabs, who make up less than 20% of the population. The only prominent non-Sunni rebel, Muqtada Sadr, has quietly joined the political process. The 80% of the population that is Shiite and Kurdish is implacably opposed to the rebellion, which is why most of the terror has been confined to four of 18 provinces.

Unlike in successful guerrilla wars, the rebels in Iraq have not been able to control large chunks of "liberated" territory. The best they could do was to hold Fallouja for six months last year. Nor have they been able to stage successful large-scale attacks like the Viet Cong did. A major offensive against Abu Ghraib prison on April 2 ended without a single U.S. soldier killed or a single Iraqi prisoner freed, while an estimated 60 insurgents were slain.

Recently there have been signs that they are fighting amongst themselves.

Food for thought. We can always defeat ourselves. In fact, many of our political leaders seem determined to undermine our troops:

Gen. John Abizaid, the top commander in the Middle East who testified alongside Rumsfeld, said that the Iraqi insurgency is robust and foreign fighters are flowing in all the time, contradicting Vice President Dick Cheney's suggestion that the insurgency was "in its last throes."

Abizaid, the commander in the Middle East, acknowledged that U.S. troops, too, were becoming aware of the drop in the public's confidence.

"When my soldiers ... ask me the question whether or not they've got support from the American people or not, that worries me. And they're starting to do that," he said.

Abizaid noted that while confidence among U.S. forces in the field "has never been higher," the political mood in Washington appears strikingly different. "I've never seen the lack of confidence greater," he said.

Interesting. The people on the ground, who are getting shot at and bombed on a daily basis, "have never been more confident".

Meanwhile, their leaders have never been less confident in them.

Way to support the troops.

Perhaps the terrorists are right. We are a decadent society.

They may not be able to defeat our military. They haven't been able to do so yet. One single time.

But they can certainly defeat our political leadership.

All they have to do is hold out and we'll just beat ourselves. I'm sorry, but I'm disgusted.

Posted by Cassandra at June 24, 2005 09:01 AM

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Tracked on July 1, 2005 11:04 AM


Yes, the spaghetti that passes for a spinal column in our leaders at times disgusts me too. We are there, slugging it out and they are back here, safe and comfortable, wringing their hands.

Sorry, but while I disagreed with this war for many issues, I decided to support if for no other reason than Clinton and the Whiners weren't in charge.

That we had a leader and leaders who would intelligently and with common sense go in and do what needed to be done.

That whose who voted to go to war on the liberal side of the house would stay the distance. We can't lose heart now and I for one refuse to give in to the luxury of 'the insurgents are winning.'

They aren't and I have confidence in how our guys have trained the Iraqis to look for trouble, but they need to police their borders better to keep insurgents out.

My two cents and I am outta here.

Posted by: Cricket at June 24, 2005 10:37 AM

If people are skeptical when Cheney says the insurgency is in its last throes, maybe that's because we've been hearing those kinds of statements for two years. "Months, not years," "rose petals," "mission accomplished," "end of major combat operations," "turning a corner," "turning a corner," "turning a corner," "turning a corner."

I was against the war for many reasons. One, I didn't think Saddam was a threat to America whatsoever. Two, while he was undoubtedly an immoral bastard, he's not even at the top of the list of immoral bastards out there, and some of the other bastards are developing nukes, which he was not. Three, my hometown had just been attacked, not by Saddam, not by Iraqi insurgents, but by Al Qaeda. Bush promised he would hunt down Al Qaeda and their leader and bring them to justice, "dead or alive." Then six months later, he declared bin Laden "not a priority" and started beating the war drums for Iraq.

Imagine if, a few months after Pearl Harbor, if FDR had said, "we're not really that worried about Tojo. But Mexico poses a grave and gathering threat, which must be dealt with immediately!" That's how betrayed I feel by Bush starting an unprovoked war with Iraq while leaving a very, very provoked war with Al Qaeda on the back burner.

That being said, I would be thrilled if I thought the insurgency actually is in its last throes and the war in Iraq was ending. Nothing would make me happier than to welcome the friends and family I have serving overseas back home to safety. But, given Cheney's record of past statements about Iraq, I don't put much stock in anything he says, and I don't blame others with taking exception to his sunny outlook.

Posted by: schroeder at June 24, 2005 04:09 PM

FWIW Schroeder, I think Cheney's wrong too. We need to seal off the borders and we have been stepping up the offensive over there lately. That's all good. And Abizaid seems to be a good guy, even if he's not a Marine :)

But our success in Iraq will turn on many things, not just whether the insurgency is strong, but the willingness of the Iraqis to defend themselves and how our cleanup ops are going and how the new government is progressing. It's all part of a larger picture, and that's why our guys are so hopeful.

But that message isn't making it back to the States, and it's worrisome.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 24, 2005 04:30 PM

I think there is easy disagreement about priorities. One question I have, schroeder, for everyone who talks about the fact that there are "worse" people than Saddam: would you have been in favor of a war in Iran or North Korea (or did you have someone else in mind?) instead? Because if not, that argument is really irrelevant, isn't it?

In case you haven't noticed, Al K'duh is in Iraq.

There were also other political concerns.

Iraq: 12 years of frustrating negotiations. Iran and N. Korea - less than four.

Iraq: Under UN sanctions and not complying.

Iraq: No allies would be adversly affected, unlike, e.g., North Korea, who could no doubt cause a great deal of harm to South Korea.

Iraq: Symbolic of trying to turn around the region (Iran could meet that definition also.)

Finally, the people of Iran are still active and might get rid of their government on their own. We owe it to them to let them try. Iraqis had tried but proved that they were unable to rebel effectively.

Posted by: KJ at June 24, 2005 04:38 PM

The "not the biggest monster" doesn't concern me either. You don't always go after the strongest, worst, whatever, opponent first. Sometimes you take out the head and the body dies, sometimes you take out the body and the head dies.

Iraq wasn't the biggest threat, but it may hold the key to democratizing the Middle East (as we see the potential for in Lebanon, Egypt, even some headway in Suadi Arabia). Since democracies don't attack each other, this would be a huge success in national safety as well as global human rights. I doubt any of this could happen had we gone after NK.

Next, (but primarily) the GWOT is not only about retribution and justice for 9-11, but about preventing another one. OBL and Al Qaida are not the only threats. Thus Afganistan is not the beginning and end. More work must be done, but where do we go? Iran and NK where dimplomacy hasn't even been tried yet? (Give peace a chance, anyone?)

And schroeder, when Japan attacked us in WWII the first place we attacked was...North Africa.

North African countries hadn't done carp to us, but that is where we started. Then we spent the vast majority of our resources, not in the Pacific, but in on the complete other side of the Globe, in Europe.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at June 24, 2005 05:51 PM

And Japan also went after us because we were not supporting their war in China by selling them raw materials for their war machine.

MM and KJ also echoed reasons why sometimes you
don't always do the direct approach rather well,
so I am behind our guys and I am glad you are looking forward to them coming home and keeping that hope alive. It means a great deal to them.

Posted by: Cricket at June 24, 2005 07:35 PM

I'm with Shroeder on the apparent lack of actual reasoning for this war. That said, I'd like to win it.

So, is Abizaid a traitor for contradicting Cheney?

And are we destroying more terrorists than we are creating? Even Rummy thought to ask that question.

"WASHINGTON -- The CIA believes the Iraq insurgency poses an international threat and may produce better-trained Islamic terrorists than the 1980s Afghanistan war that gave rise to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, officials said yesterday." - Reuters 6-23-05

KJ: "Iraq: Symbolic of trying to turn around the region (Iran could meet that definition also.)" Since when do we go to war for symbols?

The WTC and Pentagon were symbolic for Osama, He goes to war for symbols. Our response should be to get HIM, not symbols.

Posted by: Old Testament Liberal at June 25, 2005 12:47 AM

I agree with KJ's and MM's posts.It is sad that so many Americans have forgotten their history.Germany didn't attack us first but when war was declared their were included in the package along with Japan and Italy.

Posted by: Lisa Gilliam at June 25, 2005 12:47 AM

Also, be advised that Iraq, if ever over, is not the end of the WOT. Even according to Bush. And they'll have all those experienced terrorists from teh Iraq theater.

Posted by: Old Testament Liberal at June 25, 2005 12:49 AM

Lisa - ahem:

Germany 1942: a real threat to US and its allies.

Iraq 2003: Not a real threat to US and its allies. The terrorists are there because we ground over there and invited them in.

Germany declared war on us, had occupied North Africa and half of European Russia, had England on the ropes, and an active nuclear program. More active than Saddam's it turns out.

We drafted and trained a huge army, for which there was little scope on the Pacific islands; it made sense to use it in North Africa (Axis-and Vichy French occupied), then go into Italy (and Axis power) then into Germany, while simultaneously fighting a predominantly NAVAL war against Japan.

The fact that we could do this successfully was partly due to our huge industrial base and partly due to the fact that FDR didn't immediately cut taxes and go on a radical domestic crusade, calling Republicans traitors and alienating half the electorate.

Posted by: Old Testament Liberal at June 25, 2005 12:58 AM

1. Osama did not attack the WTC personally.

Al Qaeda did. It would be lovely if we were able to find him and kill him, *but if we manage to hamstring Al Qaeda and stop nations from funding them, that will accomplish the same thing* - he will be deprived of his army.

History is full of examples of leaders who were never caught/killed, but their armies were defeated. That still looks like victory from where I sit - it's a lot easier to find/defeat an army than a single man who can flee and be easily concealed.

The whole "we haven't won until we find Osama" meme is inherently moronic.

2. How much sense does it make, strategically, to go after Osama and then leave the back door open for him to flee to our OTHER greatest enemy, Saddam Hussein?

A little history lesson. After we invaded Afghanistan, which even liberals thought was a good idea, where did Al Qaeda flee?


After the 1st WTC attack in 1993, where did the mastermind flee on an Iraqi passport and live out the rest of his life?


Who was the ONLY world leader who openly applauded the 9/11 attack?


Where might a *reasonable person* who was *thinking ahead* believe Osama might flee, if we went after him in Afghanistan?

What might a *reasonably prudent person* might want to prevent at all costs after the 9/11 attack, if he had intelligence suggesting Hussein had WMDs? (and no fair saying he didn't, because both the Butler and Senate Select Intel Committee Reports BOTH SAY that not only the CIA but the rest of the world ALL BELIEVED AT THE TIME THAT HE DID, and CONTEMPORARY DOCUMENTS INCLUDING THE DSM SHOW THEM DISCUSSING WHAT THEY WILL DO IF SADDAM USED THEM!)

Do you think *you might just want to close off the possibility that a man who just flew airplanes into three of your buildings* might get his hands on WMDs and join forces with your other worst enemy?

Naaah... just trust that things will all work out. You don't owe anything to the families of those 3000 dead. It's really not your problem you see. And that policy of regime change you inherited from Clinton?

Who cares???? He ignored it. So should you.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 25, 2005 06:21 AM

Yo,OTL,unlike the folks at the DU I know my histroy.In fact, it was my favorite subject.so save that drivel for those clowns not me.The mindset of these individuals are no different than the Nazi's;both hated us,and the mindset is still the same.They are only enthically different!The only diffrence is that this country gave them plenty of ammo by our always completely wrong responses.I lost a cousin in the WTC building on that day so it is a little personal for me.I would like to know why is the left so preoccupied with us not catching Bin Laden know.Hell they let him get away scott free in the 90's!Or did that escape you for some reason?I would love nothing more for him to be caught if nothing but for symbolic reasons.But cataching him is not going to stop these unwarranted attack against innocents,that homicidal mindset is gonna have to change.We saw what happened in Russia last year with those school kids that just knocking the leader off will not solve this,because he has international tenticles as well.The international tenticles have to be stopped and all their reinforcements be cut completely off.

Posted by: Lisa Gilliam at June 26, 2005 04:55 PM

I will say, as I think I said before, that I think if we win in Iraq it will be better for us than losing. Therefore I think we should do our best to win. However, I will NOT say with any confidence, that winning NOW with all the attendant costs and lost opportunities, will be better than not going in at all.

Of course Osama doesn't matter now. Iraq is a much better training ground for terrorists than Afghanistan ever was, and we created the conditions to allow this.

"Where might a *reasonable person* who was *thinking ahead* believe Osama might flee, if we went after him in Afghanistan?"

How about Pakistan, (our friend the dictator Pervez), which has real, not imaginary nukes, and a bunch of real Islamic fundies?

Posted by: Old Testament Liberal at June 26, 2005 10:21 PM

Umm. Could somebody please explain to me why the fact that we are fighting the al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq now is a BAD THING? Isn't that the whole point of the WOT? Isolate the terrorists so we can fight them OUTSIDE of the U.S.???

OTL, my friend, al Qaeda was in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion. There has been documented evidence of that all along, but most recently, there is the claim made by the King of Jordan:

Jordan's King Abdullah revealed Thursday that Iraq's former Baath regime had refused to deport Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, blamed for ongoing terrorism in Iraq.

Speaking in an interview with Saudi daily al-Hayat, Abdullah said Zarqawi, a Jordanian, is well entrenched in Iraq and that "he and terrorists like him thrive in such places where security and stability are non-existent."

Abdullah said Jordan was the first target for Zarqawi before he found safe haven in Iraq.

"Since Zarqawi entered Iraq before the fall of the former regime we have been trying to have him deported back to Jordan for trial, but our efforts were in vain," Abdullah added.


Now, who is in Iraq now, leading the al Qaeda network?

Posted by: JannyMae at June 27, 2005 01:36 AM

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