Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Does Michael Gerson Actually Have An Area Of Expertise?

Or was he hire to present mindless prattle about whatever issue the Bush Administration deems important on any particular day?
It is a central argument of the Bush administration that the outcome in Iraq is essential to the broader war on terrorism - which is plainly true. When it comes to Sunni radicalism, the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are a single struggle. Al-Qaeda has latched on to local grievances, tribal conflicts and general chaos in all three nations to extend its influence.
So, basically, he's arguing that when we invade nations in the Middle East and South Asia, or ally with their dictators in order to advance our wars, we create havens for Al Qaeda? We shift Al Qaeda from the nations we're invading into our allied nations? Or into other nations we're invading? Seriously - what's his thesis here? If he's truly arguing that after five years of war we've transformed Iraq from being essentially al-Qaeda free to being a stronghold, and have meanwhile allowed it to expand its influence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, how does he believe himself to be making an argument for continued (perpetual?) war?
But this argument, used to justify U.S. efforts in Iraq, cuts another way as well. Is America taking all three related insurgencies with sufficient seriousness?
Er, no, that's not the other way it "cuts". But thanks for trying.
Iraq, while consuming greater sacrifice, is now producing the most encouraging results. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is reeling.
But what does "Al-Qaeda in Iraq" have to do with your prior statements about Al-Qaeda? Michael Gerson - are you trying to perpetuate the lie that "Al-Qaeda" and "Al-Qaeda in Iraq" are the same organization? (Of course you are.)
To clear Sadr City block by block -- an area with 2 million people, most of them loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr -- would require divisions that do not exist. So the strategy is to kill or capture members of the "special groups" -- the Shiite equivalent of al-Qaeda - while engaging members of Sadr's movement who want to join the political process.
Ah, so it doesn't really matter that the fight in Iraq isn't against Al-Qaeda, because every insurgent group that poses a threat to U.S. forces or the Maliki government is an "equivalent of al-Qaeda". And we draw this comparison based upon... the fact that it's "scary" to compare them to Al-Qaeda? Seriously, Michael - what goals do the Shiite militias share with Al-Qaeda? To take but one small, obvious example, one of Al-Qaeda's stated goals is to draw us deeper into a battle in the Middle East. The Shiite militias opposed to the Maliki government are demanding that we leave.
Iraq's future -- and the future of American involvement in that country -- now rests with the Shiites. If many turn to politics, the nation's path will be shorter and easier. If many choose conflict, it will be tougher and longer. But the gains against al-Qaeda in Iraq, the other great destabilizer, cannot be denied.
And again, what do gains against "al-Qaeda in Iraq" have to do with al-Qaeda proper? Bin Laden's organization? Al-Qaeda was not even welcome in Hussein's Sunni-controlled Iraq. Assuming it were to happen, what delusion grips Gerson that he believes the Shiite militias will tolerate it once they control the nation?

Unsurprisingly, Gerson feels compelled to close with a retreat to the last refuge of a Republican Hack, the "Some Democrats" argument....
Some Democrats make an illegitimate argument: that we need to abandon Iraq in order to win in Afghanistan.
Here's an easy question for you, Michael: Which Democrats?
On the contrary, a loss in Iraq would make every front in the war on terror more difficult by providing terrorists a base of operations and boosting the morale and recruitment of every radical group on Earth.
Gerson's argument, of course, presupposes that the Maliki government Gerson was earlier praising as having "finally shown some fight against radical militias" and having "gained in political stature and regional respect" will fold like a cheap suit the moment U.S. forces start to withdraw. And it relies upon his continued prevarication that any organization that opposes the U.S. occupation or the U.S.-imposed Maliki government is comprised of "terrorists" who pose to the U.S. the same threat as Al-Qaeda.

Gerson's IQ would have to be somewhere below room temperature for him to actually believe that al-Qaeda proper, or even it's similarly named Iraqi counterpart, would be welcome in a Shiite state governed by somebody like al-Sadr.

In prescribing the same tired nostrums, hacks like Gerson never get around to addressing that key question: Who will control Iraq after we depart, and why should we believe that they have any interest in allowing their nation to be a "base of operations" for terrorists? If you have nothing to support that claim, do us this favor - admit that you're just making stuff up, then shut up and let the grown-ups discuss these issues without your interruptions.

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