Friday, September 16, 2005

Zarqawi's Day

Before George W. Bush was completely aware of the impact of Hurricane Katrina, Wednesday Aug. 31, he made a speech comparing the war in Iraq to World War Two. Both conflicts were existential in nature; the American and civilized ways of life -- note the plural -- were endangered. Bush said:

Now, as then, they are trying to intimidate free people and break our will, and now, as then, they will fail.. They will fail, because the terrorists of our century are making the same mistake that the followers of other totalitarian ideologies made in the last century. They believe that democracies are inherently weak and corrupt and can be brought to their knees. America will not run in defeat, and we will not forget our responsibilities.

However, today in the Christian Science Monitor there is a report about lowered expectations, and this is not the first report of such. The meat of the story, by Mark Sappenfield:

The increasingly bracing tone from the White House and Pentagon, however, points to a new calculus. The persistence of the attacks, as well as their undiminished capacity - witnessed by Wednesday's bombings in Baghdad, which killed more than 150 Iraqis - seems to have confirmed that the insurgency will probably outlast the American occupation.

Indeed, the inability of American forces to defeat the insurgency through strikes such as the current offensive in Tal Afar raises doubts about the possibility of any clear victory for the administration. And it could leave the Iraqis with a years-long task that many planners had not anticipated.

"There has been a clear realization that this war is not winnable in the short term," says Seth Jones, a terrorism expert at RAND Corp. in Arlington, Va.

This new tone from the administration is in direct contradiction to Bush's rhetoric and undermines his analogy between the terrorists in Iraq and the Axis powers*. That analogy needs support, not the contradictions inherent in toned down expectations to save political capital for a brief period of time.

As Senator Chuck Hagel wrote last year, the conflict in Iraq and the broader war on terror is an existential conflict. And, based on published reports and blood in the streets, this is Zarqawi's day.

The brutal man's CV, outlined in the Times of London, is as follows:

He is responsible for making large areas of central Iraq ungovernable. His insurgent campaign has successfully challenged the might of the US military. He has persuaded his militant followers that it is possible to stop a democratic Shia-led government ruling Iraq and to replace it by a Sunni Islamic caliphate in Baghdad that would resemble Afghanistan under the Taleban.

Zarqawi is also pressing for a sectarian gulf that will destabilize the entire region. The threat, recently reiterated, carries weight, so says Richard Beeston of the Times:

Al-Zarqawi’s threats carry more weight than ever. Only two years ago his group was a fringe organisation that attracted a handful of fanatic Islamic militants.

Today it is the richest, best organised, best armed and most powerful insurgent force in Iraq, with thousands of volunteers, including some from around the Middle East and beyond, prepared to fight and die for their cause. His slick propaganda department can record a suicide attack, release it within an hour on the internet and relay it into the homes of Muslim sympathisers around the world.

Further, also in the Times, the leader of the Iraqi insurgency is growing the brand, so to speak, and moving into a broader region:

Jean-Charles Brisard, the author of Zarqawi: The New Face of al-Qaeda, said that last month’s failed rocket attacks by al-Zarqawi’s fighters against US warships docked off the Jordanian coast at Aqaba should serve as a warning to the region. “I believe that his fight will not stop in Iraq. There is intelligence that his people were travelling in Europe a few weeks ago.”

Unlike what senior U.S. government and military leaders say, Guardian story, these are not the "predictable" up-ticks of irrational, reactionary violence opposite a progression toward democracy. These are the dangerous machinations of a politically and militarily sophisticated network bent on the destruction of modernity in their perceived Muslim caliphate. And, while they are at it, they'll also kill Shiite apostates.

This organization will, as long as it crawls upon the earth, seek the total capitulation of U.S. and European -- as well as Russian and Chinese -- interests in the Middle East and the caliphates in Africa, Spain and the Far East. Their legacy will be loss of life, liberty and economic ruin wherever they are allowed to fester. Bush, for all his slippery leaps of reason and deceptive diction, is right to liken this conflict to World War Two -- even if only in its existential nature.

The threat is real and growing. Much of the blame will lie with George W. Bush when history evaluates his presidency. But there is plenty of blame and pain left to be dealt if we do not realize the true nature of the gruesome foe we cannot but confront.

* The analogy of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an Axis of Evil in the famous State of the Union Address was in error. Bush's policies have moved the axis into Iraq.


Blogger Bassizzzt said...

While I agree with the post, I sharply disagree with this obviously incorrect statement (with the utmost respect of the author):

"...And, while they are at it, they'll also kill Shiites because they are apostates."

The Zarqawi group are not apostates.

3:24 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Damn my lousy grammer... If you knew the night I had last night...

And there are many of us, just only a few active as of now. Hopefully that will change.

Thanks for noting my snafu.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Bassizzzt said...

If last night involved gin, yer ok by me....

Maybe I mis-read, maybe you meant Shiites are apostates....from a Wahhabist point of view, the Shiites are apostates of "true" Islam.

Therefore, if this is what you meant, you are correct in a sense.

Wahhabism is considered the most fundamental version of Islam.

And, let me also add that it is the most dangerous because it is the only Islamic sect that follows the word of the Quran.

8:34 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Bassizzzt, I did mean that Shiite are viewed as apostates by Wahhabists, and were referred to as such by Zarqawi recently.

12:10 PM  

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