Meeting the Terrorists
The U.S. military in Iraq has been holding face-to-face meetings with some Iraqi leaders of the insurgency there, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the U.S. commander in charge of Iraq confirmed yesterday.This strikes me as smart. The jihadis are all about a wacked idea of an Islamo fascist caliphate; the ex-Baathists and Sunni are more about trying to avoid being hung by their heels as the pointy end of the Saddam regime and the worry of a minority which held power for twenty years being faced with a democracy in which it is a scant minority. With the former the only compromise involves forty virgins, with the later there is every chance of coming to terms or, in the case of some of the more dispicable, cutting a plea bargain.
The talks are part of the military's revised campaign to drive a wedge between the Iraqi and foreign insurgents, according to U.S. commanders. Pentagon officials have acknowledged the new strategy but have not, until now, spoken openly about efforts to make contact with some Iraqi insurgent leaders.
The end game is to deny the foreign jihadis anywhere to operate from. That means shutting down Sunni sanctuaries and that means shifting the Sunni population from a hostile neutrality to a relatively benign neutrality. Poltically this can and should be done.
[One note: I virtually never refer to the terrorists in Iraq as insurgents. They use terror, they are terrorists. And the importance of this is illustrated by the wapo grafs above. An insurgent is a person rising in revolt against a government - but a revolt is a matter for the people of a state. It may, barely, be possible to describe the indigenous Iraqi terrorists as insurgents, it is impossible to describe the Saudis and Jordanians as anything but jihadis or terrorists depending on their actions.)