Sunday, December 23, 2007

Another Poorly Conceived Washington Post Editorial About Iraq....


When the Washington Post says this:
The common blind spot among the Democrats is Iraq. Eager to please a constituency that despises the war, the candidates commonly promise to "end" it, ignoring the reality that Iraq is still an active battlefield for al-Qaeda. Mr. Obama rails against the failure to destroy al-Qaeda's camps in eastern Pakistan, where no American troops operate, yet proposes to control al-Qaeda in Iraq with a "minimal over-the-horizon military force" - a plan that would duplicate the Pakistan problem. Ms. Clinton says that "we cannot succeed" against al-Qaeda "unless we design a strategy that treats the entire region as an interconnected whole, where crises overlap with one another and the danger of a chain reaction of disasters is real." Yet she would effectively exclude Iraq from that strategy.
What exactly do they mean?

When the Washington Post alludes to "the reality that Iraq is still an active battlefield for al-Qaeda", what do they mean?
  • Is it that al-Qaeda will view a withdrawal from Iraq as evidence of American weakness, and thus (even though peripherally involved in the actual combat) withdrawal would hand them a victory? (If so, is it necessary to win every battle - whatever the cost - in order to win a war, even if the resources we allocate to that battle could be put to more effective uses in fighting that same war?)

  • Is it (despite all evidence to the contrary) that they believe al-Qaeda is significantly invested in the war, and thus that victory would diminish its fighting force, munitions, and capacity?

  • Is it that they believe that the Iraq war poses an existential threat to al-Qaeda, such that if we defeat the Iraq insurgency they will be wiped from the face of the planet? (And if so, what are they smoking?)

Is is something else entirely?

Is the statement, "...yet proposes to control al-Qaeda in Iraq with a 'minimal over-the-horizon military force'" meant to reference an actual fight based in Iraq against al-Qaeda, or the battle with the separate group which calls itself "al-Qaeda in Iraq"?
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is the United States' most formidable enemy in that country. But unlike Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization in Pakistan, U.S. intelligence officials and outside experts believe, the Iraqi branch poses little danger to the security of the U.S. homeland.
Not that I would want to quote the Post against itself.... Are they thus arguing that we have a moral duty to defeat "al-Qaeda in Iraq" to protect the Iraqis, despite their express belief that it poses little to no direct threat to the United States, even at the expense of targeting "Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization in Pakistan"?

Back in 2001-2002 we were told that it was part of bin Laden's plan to lure the United States into an economically crippling, unwinnable war in the Middle East. Most likely he had been reading the history of the Vietnam war, and anticipated a similar psychology among U.S. leadership - that we wouldn't want to show "weakness" by abandoning a fruitless war. But perhaps he was simply reading the Post. (I am not endorsing an immediate withdrawal - unlike the Post, I don't buy into the false dichotomy that our only choices are the status quo or complete withdrawal.)

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