Thursday, May 29, 2008

Strategic blunder? Hardly

While the national media continues its mindless merry-go-round coverage of whether George W. Bush "lied us into war" for about the 27th time, it's time to look at what's going on in Iraq and the Middle East.

I can understand why Barack Obama doesn't want to go there. What's happening would be painful for him to see. He would find a rapidly collapsing al Qaeda, helped substantially by President Bush's aggressive fight against terrorism. Our attack on Iraq has drawn al Qaeda into a fight it has nearly lost. That loss has heavily demoralized the jihadist movement, according to published and internet treatises by the jihadists themselves.

The surge has been a particular strategic success because it capitalized on al Qaeda's reign of terror in Iraq that turned the locals against it. The resulting al Qaeda defeat has fed perfectly into a growing reevaluation of terrorism tactics by the founding fathers of al Qaeda and other radical groups. They have come to realize that killing women and children is not advancing their agenda. The incomparable Lawrence Wright explores this in an article that Barack Obama ought to read. A question he ought to answer: How could the radical jihadist movement be so demoralized after the "failed policies" of George W. Bush? I thought we were breeding and feeding the movement?

How does American policy fit into this? Had we not pressed the issue in the Middle East and showed the Islamists that we were not going to allow the region to become a staging ground for mass murder of Americans. Of course, there are other variables. But it is undeniable that our surge in Iraq has been a major defeat for al Qaeda and the prestige of the jihadist movement within the Muslim world.

We have a chance for a democracy in pivotal territory in the Middle East. We have disarmed a dangerous foe. We have relegated what's left of al Qaeda to remote Pakistan, where popular opinion also is moving against the radicals. Yes, it has come at a stiff price in American lives. There's no diminishing that. Yet that cost arguably was miniscule compared to the lives that might have been lost had al Qaeda and other jihadists regrouped after 9-11.

We haven't been attacked again on U.S. soil. We are watching what could be a collapse of the most radical strain of jihadist philosophy years faster than many imagined a short time ago. Sell-out "author" Scott McClellan today bemoaned the "permanent campaign" nature of politics. I appreciate a different kind of permanent campaign—the one the administration wages to keep us safe from mass murder on our soil. Once history has a chance to view the Bush presidency in perspective, it will render a favorable verdict as well.

In the meantime, we have to listen to the Democrats and the MSM, who replay the same tired storylines from 2002, 2003 and 2004 instead of focusing on the hopeful trends in 2008.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has more on Barack Obama's purposeful ignorance about events in Iraq.

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