March 12, 2008


Al-Qaida's Fading Victory: The Madrid Precedent (Austin Bay, 3/12/08, Real Clear Politics)

Al-Qaida needed a Madrid Precedent. The "9-11 Precedent" hadn't worked as planned. Rather than perishing like a fire-struck Sodom or becoming "quagmired" in Afghanistan like the lurching Soviet military, the United States responded aggressively and creatively, and with an unexpected agility.

Moreover, America had chosen not merely to topple al-Qaida's Taliban allies, but had made the bold decision to go to "the heart of the matter" and wage a war for the terms of modernity in the center of the politically dysfunctional Arab Muslim Middle East.

Don't think that al-Qaida's leaders didn't know that stroke -- establishing a democracy in Iraq -- represented a fatal threat to the terrorist organization.

Al-Qaida's dark genius had been to connect the Muslim world's angry, humiliated and isolated young men with a utopian fantasy preaching the virtue of violence. That utopian fantasy sought to explain and then redress roughly 800 years of Muslim decline. The rage energizing al-Qaida's ideological cadres certainly predated the post-Desert Storm presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia.

In February 2004, al-Qaida's "emir in Iraq," Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, bluntly noted he faced defeat. Islamist radicals were "failing to enlist support" and had "been unable to scare the Americans into leaving." Once the Iraqis established their own democracy, Zarqawi opined, al-Qaida was lost. Moreover, a predominantly Arab Muslim democracy offered the Muslim world an alternative to al-Qaida's liturgy of embedded grievance. Zarqawi's solution to looming failure was to murder Iraqi Shias and ignite a "sectarian war."

Politically inducing the withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq was another route to thwarting Iraqi democracy.

Zapatero, a man steeped in the European left's liturgical anti-Americanism, came through for the bin Ladenites.

...has been their inability to duplicate the attack elsewhere in the West, nevermind the withdrawal. It suggests a really startling operational weakness on the part of al Qaeda.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 12, 2008 11:03 AM

I'm reminded of a quote from the incomparable essayist Bill Whittle that seems appropriate:

"I think the Surge has had spectacular success not because of the additional troops so much as for the fact that when the media and the Democrats demanded we cut and run - we did not cut and run. We doubled down. When the calls for defeat and dishonor were at their loudest (sad to say a not unwarranted street rep we had made for ourselves) somehow, somehow we simply just hung on and gave them not a retreat but a CHARGE.

J---s Chr-st, but that must have gotten someone's attention."


Kinda in the same vein, and quite memorable. As they say... read the whole thing.

Posted by: Andrew X at March 12, 2008 1:24 PM

Strong horse, weak horse; who wants to fight and die for the weak horse? Especially for a bunch of foreigners* who won't fight with us?

*Foreigner being not my nation, tribe, or clan.

Posted by: Mikey at March 12, 2008 4:22 PM