The news from Iraq and Afghanistan is more positive than negative, and has been for quite a while. You wouldn't know it from reading the country's largest newspapers, or watching the nightly news, but our military is handing Al Qaida and the Sunni/Ba'athist "insurgency" a daily defeat. Yes, there are places where it's quite plain that a war is still raging, but the victories far out-number the defeats. We're in a comparable situation today as we were with the breakout from the hedgerows after Normandy during World War II. There's still plenty of fighting to do, but the enemy is on the ropes, fighting a defensive war and being ground down on a daily basis. Don't take my word for it - take a few minutes each day to read Rantburg
, and get an education on the War against Islamist Terrorism from Rantburg University.
The destruction of Abu Mussab al Zarqawi's safe house and his death were major blows to Al-Qaida. The discovery of computer hard drives, thumb drives, and just plain old 'hard-copy' documents led to over 500 additional raids and the capture or death of a thousand "insurgents". That's a hefty loss for a guerilla army that at best numbered fewer than 10,000 active 'soldiers'. We also learned who was playing both sides of the battle, such as the "Sheik" in Karbala that was also the head of an assassination team, and the dozens of Sunnis that had sworn allegience to - or at least made alliance with - Zarqawi. The US will be exploiting that information for the next year.
In Afghanistan, the Coalition forces are carrying the war to the enemy in the southern provinces. They've killed or captured several hundred, possibly as many as a thousand, in the last few months. Even more importantly, they are keeping the pressure on, all day, day after day. That wears down the enemy more than it does us, because we can switch units almost seamlessly, while the enemy has little to switch with. We're denying him safe havens, giving him little rest, and making his life miserable. Recruiting isn't replacing those killed fast enough, and those that are streaming in as replacements don't have the expertise of those that have died.
Congress also reasserted that we're going to "stay the course" with two votes last week, one in the Senate that approved such a resolution 93-6, and one in the House that passed 256-153. It angers me that 159 members of Congress would vote to quit the war when it's pretty obvious that we're making significant progress. It would be like quitting when US forces reached the Rhine during World War II, instead of finishing the job (Isn't that what we did in WW I, which led directly to WW II? Don't Democrats study history?). President Bush's visit to Iraq was more a shot in the arm for the Iraqi President than a photo opportunity. It gave encouragement to the Iraqi people that we're not about to leave them to fight on without our help. That's a big thing psychologically, almost as big as the death of Zarqawi.
There is a significant percentage of the people of the Islamic world that believes they should rule the world, and terrorism is one way they can manage that. The only way they can succeed, however, is for those who believe in such things as individual freedoms, the right to choose, the right to personal property, the right to decide which God they're going to worship, and how, to stand up and tell the Islamists, "NO". Not only do we have to do it once, we have to continue to do it until the Islamists either get tired and go away, or they're totally isolated and unable to assert any political, economic, or military pressure on the rest of the world.
That's pretty simplistic, but that's the heart of the struggle we're involved in. We didn't decide to fight this war - we were attacked, and have been consistently attacked since at least 1972, when a group of Islamic fanatics attacked the Israeli Olympic team in Munich. The attacks weren't just against Israel: Arafat planned and executed the deaths of American diplomats in Sudan in 1973. Islamists hijacked a score of aircraft with the primary purpose of embarrassing the West, freeing their co-combattants, and killing those that they considered "infidels". The bombings in Israel are a hate-filled attack upon the Jewish settlers that have done something dramatic to their part of Palestine, while the rest of the entire Middle East is mired in poverty, religious bigotry, unemployment, illiteracy, and desperation. Yes, it's also about religion, but there's a great deal of hatred for what Israel has accomplished, too. Even the billions in oil money have made little difference upon the overall population - only in the lives of the despots that rule their patch of sand.
Change has to come to the Middle East. They cannot continue to reside in the past, dreaming of past glories, and believing it can all be restored. The entire idea is stupid, and violates all the laws of Nature. That change can come from within (very unlikely), or from without. It can either come peacefully, or at the point of a gun. The choice is up to the people that live there. The Iraqis are choosing peace: much of Afghanistan is choosing peace. The rest of the Islamic world can either join these two fast-growing successes, or they can continue to live in a fool's paradise.