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Has Al Qaeda In Iraq Been Destroyed?
Strategy Page says maybe:
The death of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi was not as important as the capture of his address book and other planning documents in the wake of the June 7th bombing. U.S. troops are trained to quickly search for names and addresses when they stage a raid, pass that data on to a special intelligence cell, which then quickly sorts out which of the addresses should be raided immediately, before the enemy there can be warned that their identity has been compromised. More information is obtained in those raids, and that generates more raids. So far, the June 7th strike has led to over 500 more raids. There have been so many raids, that there are not enough U.S. troops to handle it, and over 30 percent of the raids have been carried by Iraqi troops or police, with no U.S. involvement. Nearly a thousand terrorist suspects have been killed or captured. The amount of information captured has overwhelmed intelligence organizations in Iraq, and more translators and analysts are assisting, via satellite link, from the United States and other locations.
There is this, too:
The damage done by the post- Zarqawi raids has spurred the Sunni Arab amnesty negotiations. These have been stalled for months over the issue of how many Sunni Arabs, with "blood on their hands", should get amnesty. Letting the killers walk is a very contentious issue. There are thousands of Sunni Arabs involved here. The latest government proposal is to give amnesty to most of the Sunni Arabs who have just killed foreigners (mainly Americans). Of course, this offer was placed on the table without any prior consultations with the Americans. Naturally, such a deal would be impossible to sell back in the United States. But the Iraqis believe they could get away with it if it brought forth a general surrender of the Sunni Arab anti-government forces.
I heard a lot of bloviation from Capitol Hill last night on the news on this subject. Many of our lawmakers are seemingly outraged (or at least feigning outrage) at the notion that soldiers who have been making war on US troops should get amnesty. But isn't this the way of every war? During a war, soldiers try to kill each other. After the war, they go home. At least that's been the tradition with the US.
Regardless of their unorthodox (and some say cowardly) means of killing US soldiers (e.g., IEDs), there's nothing illegitimate about it, per se (though the lack of uniforms and command structure is troubling). We are supposedly in a "War on Terrorism." It seems to me that we should be encouraging the enemy to at least stop waging war on innocent civilians, which this should do. And there are no doubt many who planted IEDs that were sincere in their belief that the US was an occupying power, and its soldiers a legitimate target. Certainly we'd do the same, if we had to.
If the war is over, then the soldiers on both sides put down their arms, and no harm, no foul. If making that offer results in an end to the war, then why do we complain? We didn't, after all, punish the ordinary soldiers of the Wehrmacht after we defeated Germany. It may in the end be difficult to really make the necessary distinctions between attackers of troops and attackers of civilians, but the principle seems sound. All of this outrage on the Hill seems more emotional than reasoned, to me.
[Update a few minutes later]
Great (OK, well, some kind of) minds think alike. Jonah Goldberg has a similar rant, which is even tougher on the posturing, "get out now" Democrats (and Republicans, where it applies).
His point is mine. Amnesty is a consolation prize for losing the war. What many in the bug-out brigade seem to want is for them to win.Posted by Rand Simberg at June 16, 2006 07:02 AM
This tracks with my thinking too. US and Iraqi security forces are legitimate military targets. The people who attack them are engaging in guerilla warfare, not terrorism. If they can be convinced to lay down their arms in exchange for amnesty, that seems like a good deal to me.
I'm sure there will be lots of trouble trying to seperate the guerillas from the terrorists, but that's what a legal system is for.Posted by Jerry at June 16, 2006 08:40 AM
I agree with you here. When I read:
The latest government proposal is to give amnesty to most of the Sunni Arabs who have just killed foreigners (mainly Americans). Of course, this offer was placed on the table without any prior consultations with the Americans. Naturally, such a deal would be impossible to sell back in the United States.
But you know what? It doesn't have to be sold back in the US. Is there a clearer sign that the Iraqi government isn't just a puppet of the US?
I had a similar thought when I saw the amnesty proposals, and during the earlier debates about people with "blood on their hands." The opposing forces in the war should go free after it ends, as long as they have not committed attrocities against civilians.
Part of the problem has been that Bush's people have been using the term "terrorism" too loosely, and many people have this crazy notion that attacks against our troops, and against the Iraqi government & government forces, are terrorism. They're not --- they're warfare, even if it is guerilla warfare. We did the same during the revolution. (Well, maybe not "the same," but you know what I mean. :)
That said, there have been a lot of car bombings that were superficially aimed at our troops, but were actually planned to go off when our troops were surrounded by civilians, to alienate Iraqis. Those were clearly attrocities, but as someone else said, finding the assholes who committed those acts is a police, rather than a military, matter.Posted by at June 16, 2006 01:36 PM
Well, that gets into the sticky little issue where our enemies are breaking just about every law of warfare. No uniforms? Hiding with civilians? Beheading/blowing up civilians? Those are all traditionally punishable by death. When they do that, at what point is it moral to still offer amnesty, and where do you draw the line?
In practice, unfortunately, we'll have to live with letting some people go unpunished for the most awful of crimes against our own or against civilians. I don't like it, but I know that I have to live with it if we're to ever have something resembling peace. We simply can't separate out the "legitimate" from the "illegitimate" with any precision, and we can't or won't "kill them all and let..." either.
For starters, the Brits didn't generally have trouble telling who our soldiers were. Also, we didn't generally massacre our own women and children to shock the Brits into leaving.
amnesty would go better if the bushies had believed in the geneva
Abu Ghraib was started because the us wasn't obeying the geneva convention.Posted by anonymous at June 16, 2006 09:30 PM
amnesty would go better if the bushies had believed in the geneva
Abu Ghraib was started because the us wasn't obeying the geneva convention.Posted by anonymous at June 16, 2006 09:31 PM
I see the moonbats are still wound up in that glorified hazing incident known as Abu Grahb.
That moral equivilance flavor of Kool-Aid is rotting their brain as well as their liver.
Posted by Mike Puckett at June 17, 2006 09:11 AM
I to am troubled by the 'amnesty' thing. Couple of ways to play this:
Pretend to 'completely investigate' every Sunni in Iraq to determine who was evil and who wasn't.
Offer up the equivalent of the 'Ironclad' Oath taken by soldier for the CSA following the American Civil War. And execute the few who go on to violate that oath.
Large show trials of foreigners found in Iraq.
Regards,Posted by Mike at June 17, 2006 12:22 PM
I, and anyone else with eyes, have to be skeptical that a person that had two 500 pound bombs dropped on his head would look so good in his nicely framed “death” photo. My dear friend Michael Berg whose son, Nicholas, was allegedly beheaded by al-Zarqawi had the unmitigated nerve to go on national TV and say that, no, it did not make him feel better that this person was killed because he knows that it won’t bring Nicholas back and in making al-Zarqawi a martyr it will probably only increase the violence. Violence is a cycle that can be stopped by stopping violence. Michael, who is running for Congress on the Green Party ticket in Delaware knows that our diseased democracy really killed his son, anyway.Posted by Cindy at June 18, 2006 06:58 AM
I, and anyone else with eyes, have to be skeptical that a person that had two 500 pound bombs dropped on his head would look so good in his nicely framed “death” photo. My dear friend Michael Berg whose son, Nicholas, was allegedly beheaded by al-Zarqawi had the unmitigated nerve to go on national TV and say that, no, it did not make him feel better that this person was killed because he knows that it won’t bring Nicholas back and in making al-Zarqawi a martyr it will probably only increase the violence. Violence is a cycle that can be stopped by stopping violence. Michael, who is running for Congress on the Green Party ticket in Delaware knows that our diseased democracy really killed his son, anyway.Posted by Cindy at June 18, 2006 06:59 AM
Not that anyone's still reading by the time I get around to posting, but...
Let's leave aside the question of whether simply attacking military targets once in a while makes the insurgents "not terrorists," or the question of unlawful combatants as defined in the old laws of war that were meant to limit conflict from turning into all-out genocide but that the left has decided is obsolete and the center-right Bush administration has decided to go along with the left on...
There have been many many more civilian deaths than US military (or, I suspect, even Iraqi military) casualties in the war. I believe the insurgents are responsible for the vast majority of these. From what I've read, the Iraqi on the street believes much the same, especially since it was part of the insurgent strategy for them to, since they wanted to start an Iraqi Civil War and if was an effective means for them to do so.
Which brings us to the amnesty offer: should (for instance) the average Shi'a-on-the-street non-supporter-of-MAS actually believe a random Sunni insurgent when he pledges that he only attacked Americans and not anyone else? How would you prove it?
An amnesty might or might not be a good thing (the devil is in the details, as always) but they should at least be honest about what they're offering an amnesty for.
There was an amnesty at the end of the Civil War, but most Confederate soldiers were regular troops fighting in uniform (or whatever uniform-equivalent could be patched together given the poor supply situation).Posted by Phil Fraering at June 18, 2006 08:04 AM
"I, and anyone else with eyes, have to be skeptical that a person that had two 500 pound bombs dropped on his head would look so good in his nicely framed “death” photo."
You have gotten your knowledge of high explosives from hollywood no doubt. Being unknowledgable, your eyes can easily decieve you.
Fisrt of all, they dropped the bombs around him in a deliberate attempt to collapse the buliding instead of blowing it to hell. There was valuable intel inside the building they wanted to preserve.
The human body is a remarkable thing. It can be incredibly fragile and remarkably resilant under differing circumstances. No doubt teh Zarkman was shielded and crushed by stone and masonry debris.
As to your nonsencial variant of the old "Violence never solved anything" pablum nonsense, it sure solved Aldoph Hitlers ass didn't it? Violence has solved many problems throughout history and mostly for the better.
You have it backwards, the way to stop violence is to not start it in the first place.
Unfortunately, you need to teach this lesson to the Saddam Hussiens and Hitlers who gas and kill with aplomb, not to those with the courage and fortitude to stand atwhart their evil and say 'No more'. Once it is started, the only solution is more violence properly and swiftly applied.
I will not submit to the barbarians at the gate, if you wish to do so, please remove yourself from the city instead of voluenteering to wait and hold the door for them.Posted by Mike Puckett at June 18, 2006 09:47 AM
No doubt teh Zarkman was shielded and crushed by stone and masonry debris.
The presentation after the official autopsy said he died of primary blast injury of the lungs. Basically, the blast waves tore his lungs (which, due to large density differences, are sensitive to blast) so much that he drowned on his own blood.Posted by Paul Dietz at June 18, 2006 03:11 PM
Must have ruptured his alveoli.
So sad........Cindies favorite little monster is no more for this world.Posted by Mike Puckett at June 18, 2006 05:25 PM
i think the amnesty is a good idea. maybe it will sow some cross-sectarian ties. maybe it will add legitimacy to the insurgency (but if they are fighting for internal power, it probably wont help much).
on the other point, if we have broken al qaeda in iraq, does that mean we should set a time-table now? is that the goal, or do we have to break the entire insurgency? al qaeda is a very small fraction of the insurgency.
how do we know when we win?
are we waiting for a fully functioning, stable democracy to flourish? i dont think most americans want to sacrifice much more, and if thats our goal, the sacrifice is gonna have to be a whole lot more, and might not even be possible.
about zarqawi, if we knew where he was, why didnt we capture him alive?Posted by at June 19, 2006 12:53 AM
We are still in Germany and Japan 60 years later and they seem to be doing a little better than their immediate post-war period now.Posted by Sam Dinkin at June 19, 2006 02:28 AM
about zarqawi, if we knew where he was, why didnt we capture him alive?
I imagine they didn't want him or his associates to escape, or have a chance to destroy documents/files. As it was, it took half an hour for troops to get there after the bombs were dropped.Posted by Paul Dietz at June 19, 2006 03:46 AM
sam, if only the situation in iraq were analogous to postwar japan and germany.
paul, youre probably right. i was just wondering, seeing as we got saddam alive.Posted by at June 19, 2006 05:15 AM
Do you really want Zarqawi alive? Personally I'm quite happy with him six feet under. This way we avoid the mess of a show trial.Posted by KeithK at June 19, 2006 02:34 PM
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