Sunday, August 5, 2007

Wrong Way Obama

What should be on Barack Obama's Sunday reading list: former special forces turned journalist Michael Yon's column today in the New York Daily News. It shatters the remaining reeds of logic in Obama's assertion that to defeat al Qaeda, we are fighting the wrong war.
Clearly, not every terrorist in Iraq is Al Qaeda, but it is Al Qaeda that has been intentionally, openly, brazenly trying to stoke a civil war. As Al Qaeda is now being chased out of regions it once held without serious challenge, their tactics are tinged with desperation.

This may be the greatest miscalculation they've made in their otherwise sophisticated battle for the hearts and minds of locals, and it is one we must exploit.
It was Obama who told cable TV host/blogger Jeff Berkowitz last year that civil war is what we need to avoid. Barack now apparently is more concerned with presidential political positioning than civil war in Iraq. His withdrawal plan on the table is a certain prelude to that civil war he once feared.

Yon went on to destroy the argument tried by the New York Times that al Qaeda in Iraq is somehow unrelated to al Qaeda.
The current controversy about the extent to which Al Qaeda is a threat to peace in Iraq is a case in point. Questions about which group calling itself an offshoot of Al Qaeda is really an offshoot of Al Qaeda is a distraction masquerading as a debate.

Al Qaeda is in Iraq, intentionally inflaming sectarian hostilities, deliberately pushing for full scale civil war. They do this by launching attacks against Shia, Sunni, Kurds and coalition forces. To ensure the attacks provoke counterattacks, they make them particularly gruesome.
And Yon, who has been on the ground at the front edge of the surge, sums up the situation today.
Anyone who says Al Qaeda is not one of the primary problems in Iraq is simply ignorant of the facts. I, like everyone else, will have to wait for September's report from Gen. Petraeus before making more definitive judgments. But I know for certain that three things are different in Iraq now from any other time I've seen it.

1. Iraqis are uniting across sectarian lines to drive Al Qaeda in all its disguises out of Iraq, and they are empowered by the success they are having, each one creating a ripple effect of active citizenship.
2. The Iraqi Army is much more capable now than it was in 2005. It is not ready to go it alone, but if we keep working, that day will come.
3. Gen. Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.

And yes, in case there is any room for question, Al Qaeda still is a serious problem in Iraq, one that can be defeated. Until we do, real and lasting security will elude both the Iraqis and us.
So Barack and fellow anti-war Dems: What do we do with al Qaeda in Iraq when we go home or to Pakistan?

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