Thursday, April 26, 2007

Who Gave Al Qaeda To Iraq in the First Place?

Technorati Tags: , , ,

More right-wing alchemy, courtesy of Joe Lieberman:

Last week a series of coordinated suicide bombings killed more than 170 people. The victims were not soldiers or government officials but civilians -- innocent men, women and children indiscriminately murdered on their way home from work and school.

If such an atrocity had been perpetrated in the United States, Europe or Israel, our response would surely have been anger at the fanatics responsible and resolve not to surrender to their barbarism.

Unfortunately, because this slaughter took place in Baghdad, the carnage was seized upon as the latest talking point by advocates of withdrawal here in Washington. Rather than condemning the attacks and the terrorists who committed them, critics trumpeted them as proof that Gen. David Petraeus's security strategy has failed and that the war is "lost."

And today, perversely, the Senate is likely to vote on a binding timeline of withdrawal from Iraq.

It's the tried-and-true logic of war supporters: The very insurgent violence we were told would be ended by sending more troops to Iraq is now used as the reason for the troops to stay in Iraq and, indeed, for more troops to be sent. If there had not been "a series of coordinated suicide bombings [that] killed more than 170" Iraqis, the surge would have been hailed as a resounding success. Now that there has been "a series of coordinated suicide bombings [that] killed more than 170" Iraqis, that becomes the proof that the extra troops must stay and, indeed, that more troops should be sent.

Big Tent Democrat calls it "too funny":

Um, failing to provide security in Baghdad, says Joe, is not evidence that "Gen. David Petraeus's security strategy is failing?" Well surely it is not evidence that it is working is it Joe? ...

Why yes! It is! [Emphasis mine]:

What is needed in Iraq policy is not overheated rhetoric but a sober assessment of the progress we have made and the challenges we still face.

In the two months since Petraeus took command, the United States and its Iraqi allies have made encouraging progress on two problems that once seemed intractable: tamping down the Shiite-led sectarian violence that paralyzed Baghdad until recently and consolidating support from Iraqi Sunnis -- particularly in Anbar, a province dismissed just a few months ago as hopelessly mired in insurgency.

This progress is real, but it is still preliminary.

The suicide bombings we see now in Iraq are an attempt to reverse these gains: a deliberate, calculated counteroffensive led foremost by al-Qaeda, the same network of Islamist extremists that perpetrated catastrophic attacks in Kenya, Indonesia, Turkey and, yes, New York and Washington.

Indeed, to the extent that last week's bloodshed clarified anything, it is that the battle of Baghdad is increasingly a battle against al-Qaeda. Whether we like it or not, al-Qaeda views the Iraqi capital as a central front of its war against us.

Al-Qaeda's strategy for victory in Iraq is clear. It is trying to kill as many innocent people as possible in the hope of reigniting Shiite sectarian violence and terrorizing the Sunnis into submission.

In other words, just as Petraeus and his troops are working to empower and unite Iraqi moderates by establishing basic security, al-Qaeda is trying to divide and conquer with spectacular acts of butchery.

That is why the suggestion that we can fight al-Qaeda but stay out of Iraq's "civil war" is specious, since the very crux of al-Qaeda's strategy in Iraq has been to try to provoke civil war.

What was evidenced by the hundreds of suicide bombings and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed by civil war and insurgent violence before the "surge" began? Why, that the U.S. needed to send 25,000 additional troops to Iraq to saturate Baghdad with American soldiers who would be the leading edge of Bush's brand-new "strategy" to "clear, hold, and build" Baghdad's neighborhoods!

And what is evidenced by those same horrendous suicide bombings, continuing at the same level as before, and getting even worse, after the "surge" began? Why, don't you know it's the sign that the "surge" is working! It's clear proof that Al Qaeda in Iraq is responding to Gen. Petraeus's successes with "spectacular acts of butchery" that never were seen before in Iraq! It's not evidence that the U.S. has lost; it's evidence that the U.S. is winning; it's evidence that the U.S. troops must stay and deal Al Qaeda the final death blow!

Ezra Klein asks why "the newspapers don't demand a bit more in the way of originality":

Back in 2005, Lieberman took to The Wall Street Journal to write, "More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood -- unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn." In fact, it sounds a lot like what he wrote back in July of 2004, when he said, "The successful handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi people last month offers fresh hope for stability and democracy in their country, but it could also mark a turning of the tide in the world war against terrorism."

And on and on it goes. Every few months, Lieberman pops up to identify this -- this day, this hour, this moment -- as the turning point in Iraq and warn that withdrawal will impede the improvements. Then the country descends even deeper into civil war, and he picks a new instant when everything is on the upswing and only American will stands in democracy's way. And, every time, the nation's newspaper editors let him publish, no new arguments or information needed.

If there is one single characteristic of the right's standard for measuring success in Iraq, it is this very malleability -- the fact that the standard for measuring the war's success is whatever is occurring at any given moment. And don't for one moment think that war supporters aren't capable of claiming, at a single point in time, the presence and the absence of a particular set of conditions to back up their argument that the "surge" is working. Thus, we are treated to the amazing spectacle of Joe Lieberman using the deaths of 170 Iraqis in a recent series of suicide bombings to argue in today's WaPo that the surge is succeeding; while Pres. Bush tells a television interviewer on Tuesday that acknowledging suicide bombings undermines the surge's success:
U.S. officials who say there has been a dramatic drop in sectarian violence in Iraq since President Bush began sending more American troops into Baghdad aren't counting one of the main killers of Iraqi civilians.

Car bombs and other explosive devices have killed thousands of Iraqis in the past three years, but the administration doesn't include them in the casualty counts it has been citing as evidence that the surge of additional U.S. forces is beginning to defuse tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

President Bush explained why in a television interview on Tuesday. "If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory," he told TV interviewer Charlie Rose.

Others, however, say that not counting bombing victims skews the evidence of how well the Baghdad security plan is protecting the civilian population - one of the surge's main goals.

"Since the administration keeps saying that failure is not an option, they are redefining success in a way that suits them," said James Denselow, an Iraq specialist at London-based Chatham House, a foreign policy think tank.

Bush administration officials have pointed to a dramatic decline in one category of deaths - the bodies dumped daily in Baghdad streets, which officials call sectarian murders - as evidence that the security plan is working. Bush said this week that that number had declined by 50 percent, a number confirmed by statistics compiled by McClatchy Newspapers.

But the number of people killed in explosive attacks is rising, the same statistics show - up from 323 in March, the first full month of the security plan, to 365 through April 24.

Back to Lieberman:

The current wave of suicide bombings in Iraq is also aimed at us here in the United States -- to obscure the recent gains we have made and to convince the American public that our efforts in Iraq are futile and that we should retreat.

When politicians here declare that Iraq is "lost" in reaction to al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks and demand timetables for withdrawal, they are doing exactly what al-Qaeda hopes they will do, although I know that is not their intent.

Okay, I'm feeling particularly mature today, so I will ignore the remarkable example of civil discourse Lieberman sets by reassuring Democrats in Congress that they are not treasonous Al Qaeda sympathizers -- just stupid Al Qaeda pawns. But I have to ask: How does Lieberman come to know "exactly what Al Qaeda hopes [we] will do"? Has he been meeting with them? I am not arrogant or deluded enough to claim knowledge of Al Qaeda's thought processes, but I do think it highly unlikely that Al Qaeda's leaders think they've been handed a victory because Democrats in Congress want to set a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Pres. Bush already handed Al Qaeda their victory when he abandoned the hunt for Osama bin Laden and invaded Iraq. Bush was the one who gave Iraq to Al Qaeda -- why on earth would they want the U.S. to leave?

Cross-posted at Shakesville.

No comments: