Welsh's "Al-Q'aeda's State of Play"
I was cruising about looking at various blogs and found Ian Welsh writing at The Blogging of the President about how things were coming up roses for Osama bin Laden and al-Q'aeda and their various allies. Welsh takes as true the following:
The Iraq war could never be won, because, as the Downing Street memos so eloquently note, there was never a victory condition. There was never an end state which could be said to constitute a victory. Since there was no end objective, there could be no planning to reach it.I could not help but post a response which I repost here with a few changes,
The sad thing is that while the West has foundered, failing to win in Afghanistan and busily losing in Iraq, bin Laden does have a plan, does have an end state he wants to get to which would be considered victory and has been taking steps to get there.
the blogging of the president
The victory condition in Iraq is the ability of the Iraqi government to maintain internal security without outside help. There is nothing unattainable about that and in the Kurd north and much of the Shi'ite south that condition has already been met.I would add to this that a realistic appraisal of al-Q'aeda itself suggests it is a largely spent force with much of its leadership killed or captured and its ability to mount operations confined to small parts of the Middle East. Even the loathsome Saudis have finally recognized that Osama is not their friend or their tool and are rolling up the networks in the Kingdom. Osama himself is still on the loose, more or less, but if one of the victory conditions is his death or capture this will certainly happen in time.
Now, there are two ways this can be done. Either the terrorists and jihadis are broken by the Americans or they are broken by the Iraqis. The later will be bloodier as it will use Kurds and Shi'ites as a blunt weapon. A lot of non-combatant Sunnis will be killed, more will be exiled or driven as refugees into, primarily, Syria.
it is encouraging to read today that there have been ongoing talks with the Iraqi Sunnis thought to be responsible for some of the terror. The possibility of splitting these people from the foreigners would be ideal.
The terror itself is winding down even in Sunni held areas where the terrorists have been reduced to suicide bombings as their principle weapon. Devastating as these attacks are, they are not on a scale likely to drive American public opinion to demand an end to the war poste haste.
The collapse of the American economy in the true sense of collapse, is not a very likely possibility at present. Yes the twin deficits are worrying and yes the price of oil will tend to have a destabilizing effect and yes the real estate bubble with its associated levels of personal debt are worrying. However, the overall productivity of the US economy, the continuing willingness of foreign investors to buy US Treasuries and companies, are all buying the US time to get its house in order.
OBL is sitting in a cave with the caliphate receding into the dim recesses of the end of time. Islamo fascism has lost in Iraq, been rejected in Lebanon and is meeting stiff resistance throughout the Middle East. The Baathists in Syria (who really invented Arab fascism) have been kicked out of Lebanon with the full support of the Europeans and are issolated within the Arab world. The terrorists in Iraq are reduced to importing foreign jihadis to use as homicide bombers because they have next to no support among the Iraqis.
There seems to be some effort on the part of the Israelis to actually withdraw from Gaza - knowing full well that Hamas will turn Gaza into an even greater Hell than it is now - so that that burr under the Arab saddle will be partially removed.
Europe has managed, through the dint of French genius, to eliminate itself as a serious player diplomatically and economically by voting down the EU constitution and the EU budget. The Euro is dropping like a rock and there is strong anti-fundamentalist/anti-Muslim immigrant sentiment growing in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany and, even, er, France.
This is hardly a picture of an al-Q’aeda victory parade.
The more general question is whether or not Islamofascism is, regardless of the state of Osama or al-Q'aeda or bin Laden doing better or worse now than it was say the day after 9/11. I would argue it isn't because it is now being taken very seriously indeed by people with the means and the motive to beat it militarily and intellectually. There is hardly a groundswell of support fot fundamentalism in the Middle East. (The fixed Iranian election notwithstanding.) Most importantly, there are increasing numbers of Muslim leaders who are rejecting the very theological foundation of the Wahhabi sect which drives much of the jihadi fervour. The "Arab street" seemed delighted by the election in Iraq and the destruction of Syrian influence in Lebannon.
A conscious effort on the part of the United States to reinvent the Middle East and to rethink the conduct of American foreign policy in that region is beginning to bear fruit. Bitter fruit in the mouth of bin Laden, delicious, rich, sweet fruit in the mouths of the millions of Arabs who have been so badly lead, so deeply decieved, by their own governments for so long.