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« Che Chic | Main | A Tipping Point? »

Good News From Iraq

Zarquawi is running scared:

For his part, Al Zarqawi has also expressed concern over the U.S. military operation against Fallujah, Mosul and other insurgency strongholds.

On Wednesday, an audio tape posted on an Islamic website and purportedly from Al Zarqawi accused Muslim clerics of failing to support the insurgency in Iraq.

"You have let us down in the darkest circumstances and handed us over to the enemy," the message said. "You have stopped supporting the holy warriors. Hundreds of thousands of the nation's sons are being slaughtered at the hands of the infidels because of your silence."

"Hundreds of thousands"?

Is such exaggeration really helpful to his cause? If I were an incipient Jihadi, I might have second thoughts about joining up upon hearing that. If, that is, they subscribe to bin Laden's "strong horse" theory (that is, "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse."). The message is, "we're losing, folks."

Posted by Rand Simberg at November 26, 2004 11:20 AM
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Iraq Report, Nov 29/04
Excerpt: NOV 29/04 TOPICS INCL: Elections will go on as scheduled; tales of horror and heroism from Fallujah; Al Qaeda in Iraq; thoughts on Iraq's elections; Japan considers leaving Iraq; oil-for-food update; war advice from the Left; being like James.
Weblog: Winds of Change.NET
Tracked: November 29, 2004 04:26 AM

Yes, they are losing, and we're winning, for now. If we continue to press, aggressively, we'll win - but only if we continue to press the enemy unto his destruction.

Posted by Tim at November 27, 2004 08:29 PM

While I agree that this is, indeed, good news - and I also agree with your sentiment that they ar elosing - I seriously doubt that message to be accurately perceived by them (Jihadists) in the manner that you have put it.

My answer to them, and all of their ilk, is "keep on talking."

It should help collect all of the vermin and bring them out where they can eventually be seen for what they truly are - and dealt with accordingly.

Posted by Daniel McAndrew at November 27, 2004 08:33 PM

The media make it sound like Fallujah was "Whack-A-Mole", that we hit down on them there and they popped up somewhere else. About 2,500 of them aren't going to be popping up anywhere soon. 1,500 of them are now finding out their 72 virgins didn't choose celibacy, instead they all look like Helen Thomas.

Posted by Paul at November 27, 2004 09:48 PM

I think it has been established that this audio tape is a pastiche of passages from a previous tape directed to the clerics of Saudi Arabia. Who put it together and why are subject to question, but it was not intended, at least not originally, as a screed against Iraqi clerics. See

Posted by eric at November 27, 2004 11:30 PM

You really have to wonder what these people are going to say if elections are held in all the provinces, and the Iraqis take over most of their own security.

Mostly they'll still be declaring it a failure I'm sure.

Posted by Dean Esmay at November 28, 2004 01:36 AM

I think the Islamic world would do well to promote women to high places. As a father of four boys, I've experienced the problems of too many young men being left to their own devices. I've also seen the affect women can have, like my oldest son's girlfriend who opened a can of whoopass on him last year when his grades sank.

Posted by Bill Hennessy at November 28, 2004 05:34 AM

Re declaring Iraq a failure if it succeeds...if Iraqis indeed a success, something more subtle will occur, as it did with Afghanistan. "Well, of course, everyone agreed that Afghanistan was a good thing at the time"

The tendency to rewrire history and one's predictions of what would happen is near-universal, but especially acute on the left. While it's certainly true that those who supported the Iraq War underestimated the difficulty of the wars aftermath, and numerous mistakes were made, it's also true that the predictions of catastrophe (half a million deaths, millions of refugees, sectarian civil war) also failed to come true. Fortunately, or unfortunately, memories of one's own predictions are short--the blogospherre is an interesting kind of memory bank which in some small measure can help to mediate this tendency.

Posted by Daniel Calto at November 28, 2004 05:34 AM

Bill Hennessy,
I have been saying for sometime that what Arab youth is suffering from is what we call,aptly if inelegantly,Wankers Doom,a malady that strikes young men when they are deprived of females,or in this case even the sight of females.Perhaps if a crack division of hookers was dropped on the Middle East things would mellow out a bit.

Posted by PeterUK at November 28, 2004 06:54 AM

With the follow-up operations south of Baghdad, it looks like we are avoiding a critical error: failing to pursue and destroy a beaten enemy. This is the time to go after them, while they are off-balance and disorganized. It's a lot better to keep something rolling than to stop and start again.

Posted by Mitch at November 28, 2004 07:54 AM

The criminal sunnis made a big mistake during the faluja battle, when they popped up in Mosul, Ramadi, Samara, Baghdad, etc. They came out into the open!
Hundreds of them were killed by artillery and air power who would still be around to create mischief otherwise. And hundreds or thousands more are being picked off by threes and sixes, having left their safe havens--or worse--having unwittingly revealed their safe havens.

Posted by Ompharius at November 28, 2004 08:15 AM

The Media refuse to recognize Fallujah as a US victory for the same reasons they refused to recognize the 1968 Tet offensive as a US victory: Good news means people will think the US is winning.

Let us remember that Tet was a crushing victory for the US. An estimated 45,000 Viet Cong were killed or taken prisoner. They were beaten so soundly that for the rest of the war the Communists had to rely on North Vietnamese Army regulars to get the job done.

Since there are not Syrian or Iranian Army units available or willing to take over for them, the Jihadis in Iraq are on their own. Zaraqawi has done the math, and from his point of view it doesn't look very good.

Posted by Captain Holly at November 28, 2004 09:34 AM

It sounds as if we may have used lessons learned from the Viet Nam war in Iraq. The political climate is different and the press is no longer under a complete stranglehold of anti war elements. We may be able to actually benefit from our Viet Nam experience.

I traveled from Vung Tau to areas north of Hue in the month following the 1968 Tet offensive. The uniform story on the ground was that as the Viet Cong thought that Tet was going their way the invisible cadre revealed themselves and attempted to take over government offices. When the counter offensive resulted in the collapse of the offensive, we had in our hands virtually all of the communist underground. Most were hunted down and killed in the offices they tried to occupy. We were in control.

We may not know if Fallujah was allowed to remain in opposition control as a plan to take advantage of this experience, but that appears to be what happened. (If this was not the plan, I expect it to appear as the plan in someone's autobiography anyway.)

The dynamic at work is interesting. Even if your opponent is aware of it, he cannot protect himself from it. If Fallujah was to be the core from which the opposition spread out to take control of the rest of the country, the most aggressive and capable of the leadership had to be there asserting control. To sit it out, if it was successful means that other contenders for power would have a huge head start.

The head start would include not only time and contacts, but the psychological advantage of having exposed yourself when it was dangerous to do so. They had to assemble like bugs to a bug light. All we had to do was ZAP them.

As time goes on, I am beginning to feel that the time we spent in Viet Nam may not have been wasted.

After all it is only the score at the end of the game that counts.

Posted by Allan Yackey at November 28, 2004 10:12 AM

There are those like Tom Hayden who wish to create the MSM victory of Tet,via Instapundit

Posted by PeterUK at November 28, 2004 10:25 AM

The answer to whether we are winning depends upon whether al-Sistani's rising star is good or bad for the US.

Since bin Laden and the Wahabi Sunnis consider Sistani an apostate worse than the Christian infidel, I tend to think a post election government filled with folks friendly to Sistani is a very good thing. Therefore, smacking down Fallajuh and eradicatimg the remnants of Saddam's Baathist army is altogether good.

However, Sistani is an Islamicist (albeit very moderate) and I doubt his followers will be eager to institute genuine western style modernistic capitalism any time soon. If we can accept that and live with a Sistani dominated Iraq, then this all actually might turn out okay.

Deny Sistani his elections (or if Sistani believes the elections are rigged) then next spring will see a bigger firestorm of insurgency than we have yet faced.

The Shia have not supported the insurgents in Fallajuh precisely because the US Marines are killing the very people who oppressed the Iraqi Shia for 100 years.

Posted by Bill White at November 28, 2004 11:00 AM

It's really killing the MSM (in this case, CNN) and many of their viewers that we're persevering, and winning, in Iraq at the level of the individual soldier:

I voted very reluctantly for Kerry on the grounds that the aftermath of Saddam's overthrow had been so mismanaged. Now I am very relieved that Bush won. Neither the rightness nor the outcome of a daring move like invading Iraq is foregone. It is CREATED by unwavering resolve, even if said resolve sometimes looks like denial. Our soldiers and Bush are of one heart on that score, and that's what's going to win it.

Posted by amba at November 28, 2004 11:03 AM

PS - - lest anyone believe this is mere blue ranting, I cite Charles Krauthammer:

There simply is a civil war, today, between the Kurd, Shia and Sunni/Baath. We need to pick which horse to bet on and backing Sistani and the Kurds with the Sunni marginalized give us a pretty good end-state, IMHO.

Posted by Bill White at November 28, 2004 11:05 AM

Let's see. Al Zarqawi claims hundreds of thousands, Juan Cole claims tens of thousands, The U. S. military claims (at least) thousands. So what's the real scope?

Posted by Dave Schuler at November 28, 2004 11:38 AM

Take the US Military estimate. They are almost always slightly over estimated. And if Hundreds or Tens of Thousands were killed you bet your ass the media would have video of all those bodies stacked up to prove that we are bastards.

The fact is we are killing who we are supposed to kill. And going out of our way to protect the civilians. Some get caught up in it, but no war in history has ever been perfect.

Posted by MikeC at November 28, 2004 11:58 AM

Bill White,

Having the Sunni marginalized is OK in the short term. But the Shia and Kurds, if they want to hold Iraq together needs to make sure over the near term, after elections, that the Sunni's feel a stake in the outcome.

Right now my opinion is that the Sunni are in a wait and see attitude at the power broker level. The Sunni man on the street I bet is tired of the factious Jihad and is looking for a little stability. So somewhere in the middle is what the Shia and Kurds need to convince the Sunni of.

Elections need to be held as scheduled. It will have negative effects on the terrorists.

Posted by JohnM at November 28, 2004 01:12 PM

The elections need to proceed as scheduled. Yes, I agree. And in the long run, the Shia and the Kurds will need to make peace with the Sunni. But to do that, Saddam's leftover arsenal and officers need to be neutralized because "they" will not accept Shia supremacy peacefully. And US troops can accomplish that far more easily than any other military force, including the peshmerga.

Yet, as Krauthammer says, a genuine unified Iraq may be a "bridge too far" since the peshmerga may demand autonomous rights for Kurdistan not nationally approved of, and the Sunni regions may we be governed and reconstructed much as the American South after the Civil War.

We can de-fang the Sunni and their new champion Zarqawi so they cannot topple the new Shia/Kurd governing coalition and once that coalition is stable, we leave.

Posted by Bill White at November 28, 2004 02:59 PM

Have you guys looked at the source of this post? That "newspaper" must have the credibility of US Magazine.


Posted by uh at November 29, 2004 07:43 AM

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