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« Doomed To Repeat It | Main | Cheating At Jigsaw »

"The Ring On Zarqawi's Finger"

Michael Totten has an interesting discussion with some Iraqis:

According to the conventional narrative, Al Qaeda was rejected by Iraqis because they murdered Iraqis. They were far more vicious and hateful than the Americans they vowed to expel. The narrative is correct, as far as it goes, but Al Qaeda is detested for more than mere thuggery. Other armed groups have been able to maintain at least some popularity even though they also murder Iraqis. None of the others, though, violent though they may be, are so thoroughly totalitarian, so alien to the traditions of Iraqi culture, and so hostile to its centuries-old social fabric. Al Qaeda in Iraq tears at Iraq’s traditional culture as viciously as Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia.

If you want to understand Al Qaeda in Iraq – its methods, its rise, and its fall – you’ll find their story has more in common with the Shining Path’s guerrilla and terrorist war in Peru than with the Islamic religion as practiced in the mosques of Fallujah.

“Nowadays we can analyze what is going on,” Ahmed said. “In the Sunni area, in the Western area, we have people being killed by Al Qaeda. The tribes and locals civilians here are standing up to fight the Al Qaeda organization because of that. We have been moving one step forward and two steps backward. We are now only semi-literate people. We need some more education.”

“Were all the insurgents here Al Qaeda, or were there other organizations also?” I said.

“The Al Qaeda organization is the major one,” said Omar. “They made some smaller sub-organizations for themselves to assist them by another name. But, in fact, they are all Al Qaeda.”

According to the conventional wisdom, Al Qaeda makes up only a very small part of Iraq’s insurgency. Maybe that’s true, overall. But I have not been able to find a single person on the ground in Western Iraq – not American, and not Iraqi – who says anyone other than Al Qaeda has played a significant role in the insurgency.

The conventional "wisdom" is often unwise. Particularly when it's tainted by hatred of George Bush.

[Afternoon update]

This strikes me as particularly timely, given that Harry Reid continues to demand that the US surrender to Al Qaeda (even if he's too stupid to realize that's what he's doing), just as we finally have them on the ropes.

...over the past year nearly 900 brave Americans have been killed while trying to provide Iraq’s leaders with the opportunity to unite their country. In that time American taxpayers have spent more than $120 billion to finance another nation’s civil war and back an Iraqi government that shows little interest in progress. And as President Bush continues to cling stubbornly to his flawed strategy, Al Qaeda only grows stronger.

As Michael Totten reports, this was never much of a civil war, and to the degree that it was, it was being instigated by Al Qaeda, and if Al Qaeda is growing stronger, it certainly isn't in Iraq. But the Senate Majority (non)Leader remains stuck in the 2006 narrative, and out of touch with reality.

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 09, 2008 09:12 AM
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