Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Victory, Part Deux

Tigerhawk has been doing some thinking about victory, too, but deeper.

I'd have liked to have been able to write that. It's an excellent analysis of what victory in the wider war is all about.

Iraq, for us, is only a campaign in the wider war on Islamism. That's an important point to remember. It does us no good to win in Iraq if we lose everywhere else.

However: the war in Iraq gives us a couple of opportunities to exercise a bit of geopolitical ju-jitsu. I'm shooting from the hip, here, but I'll try to stay on point.

One: Tigerhawk's spot on about the importance of discrediting Al-Qaeda. You can't kill an idea, but you can ruin it's worth and vitality by exposing its true nature. We have to reveal it as the busted, worthless thing that it truly is. So, what do we have to put up against it? Freedom, and self-determination. An Iraq that is governed by a regime regularly held accountable to its citizens is a powerful counter-example to the jihadist death-cult.

Two: There's another element that I don't think has been explicitly stated yet. In the aftermath of September 11, one of the challenges raised was the difficulty of engaging Al-Qaeda in open combat. They're an organization, not a government. They have no territory. Nothing to defend. They can melt into the background, whenever they choose.

But, take note of what's happened in the last couple of years. By drawing a line in the sand in Iraq, we've forced Al-Qaeda to adopt that land as their own, forcing them to come out to fight and die for it. We've forced them to forfeit one of their key strategic advantages. They do manage to serve up some unpleasant surprises from time to time, but we've managed to serve up a few of our own. After September 11, they were seen in the popular Arab press as invisible, invincible heroes. Unseen, untraceable, going where they will to perpetrate Jihad. But now? The hatred grows with every bombing of Iraqi citizens. The jihadists can't fight the Americans toe to toe, you see. The best they can manage is to pick off one or two, here or there, but they pay dearly when they do that. The Americans can fight back. Schools, mosques, and police stations are much softer targets.

They aren't melting into the background so well, anymore.

Me, I don't mind that Zarqawi slipped through our fingers last year. He's doing a fine job for us right where he's at. His murder spree is costing them more and more Arab and Muslim support by the day, if not by the hour.

I think it's still a bit early to declare that we've passed a tipping point. Things can still go completely FUBAR in Iraq. But, we're miles and miles ahead of where we were in early 2004. We're even miles and miles ahead of where we were, this time last year. More and more, Iraqis are coming to believe in this new government they've created. They won't fight for an occupier. But they will stand up and fight for their own flag, their own people, their own laws. There's an increasing sense that it is truly theirs, now.

Soon. It'll be soon. Al-Qaeda's credibility runs out like the sands in an hourglass. Their political capital's spent, their monetary captial, likewise. Their top leaders are on the run, and have to be lucky every day for the rest of their lives. We only have to be lucky once.

We do have to keep our eye on the prize, though. It's never too late to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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