Thursday, September 11, 2008


A Source on the New York Times

I am very hesitant to use anything Frank Rich wrote about things, other than the theater, as a valid metric, but in a hoist on his own petard sort of way, I'll point out what Rich wrote on the first anniversary of the successful al Qaeda attacks here 7 years ago:

That Iraq is ''a grave and gathering danger,'' as the president also said, is not in doubt. But is it as grave a danger as the enemy that attacked America on 9/11 and those states that are its most integral collaborators? The campaign against Iraq, wrote Brent Scowcroft in the op-ed that launched a thousand others, ''is certain to divert us for some indefinite period from our war on terrorism.'' Since major Qaeda attacks are planned well in advance and have historically been separated by intervals of 12 to 24 months, we will find out how much we've been distracted soon enough.

So if Rich is right, and the already successful recent war in Iraq (finishing Gulf War 1 properly) was a grand distraction to our efforts to disrupt the plans of al Qaeda to hit us again by no later than 2003, then what happened to the attack? The fact that it is 5 years overdue must cause at least some of the thinking left to wonder if taking the fight to al Qaeda in the center of the Caliphate seems to have distracted al Qaeda more than it has distracted us.

(h/t Ann Coulter)

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I will bet my crystal ball against yours het in 25 to 50 years, historians will ask, "Why did President Bush delegate such an enormous amount of the nation's resources to invading a country that posed little if anty threat to the security of the United States?"

Then will come the criticism of the way the war was prosecuted until the surge.

Then will come a recitation that shortly after the United Staes withdrew from Iraq, or shortly before th eUnited States finished withdrawing from Iraq, there was a coup or maybe a civil war.

Yeah, five years if you completely disregard the Madrid and London attacks.

Try not to be so ethnocentric.
T, in 25 years we'll be 80, I don't even want to do the math on 50. So no use taking that bet. There are plenty of historians asking that question now, anyway. Valid criticism of both military and civilian activities in Iraq pre surge. You are nothing, old friend, if not doggedly pessimistic about the ability of the Iraqis to rule them selves reasonably. I, like Anne Frank, prefer to continue to believe in the basic goodness of my fellow man.
Mike, I disregard the London attack as homegrown, unafiliated terrorism. Madrid, not as clear to me (I see it as a try to knock Spain out of the war, which it did) but on this day, I am going to be Americacentric, if you don't mind.

Check out the comments of Stephen Biddle heard of Morning Edition 9/13/08 @ for a cogent analysis of how the surge was but one element in the improvement in Iraq and reversal of al Qaeda's fortunes. Not that the surge was not important but the prevalent view in this country, particularly as espoused by the same people who promoted the war and people like John McCain is that "the surge worked" meaning "it was the surge and the surge alone."

Indeed it did work but it was not the only factor and indeed the factors all worked together.

Ultimately, Biddle's analysis, w/ which I agree, is that al Qaeda overplayed its hand in two critcal regards. It blew up the Golden Mosque in Samara which brought the Shi'ite militias into play, promoting a level of violence that convinced the Sunnis that the Sunnis would not be able to retake the country once the United States left. Secondly, as we are aware, the Sunnis turned on aL Qaeda b/c of the latter's brutality toward Sunnis.

In war it's rarely one single thing, but I think we can assign importance or say, of one thing, it is a sine qua non. Just as the submarine service was a sine qua non for our defeat of Imperial Japan when we did, so too was the surge change in tactics a sine qua non for our being next door to victory in Iraq.
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