One piece of extremely good news 89

The US victory in Iraq is bigger than even President Bush and his outgoing administration seem to realize. 

First, it can now be proclaimed as victory: 

 If Barack Obama had gotten his way, Iraq would now be in the hands of Islamists, and America’s image would have suffered a crushing blow. He voted to cut off funding for the troops, just when they needed it most, and still refuses to admit he was wrong.

Well, he was wrong, and George W. Bush deserves credit for refusing to back down when all around him were losing heart: “The war is over and we won.” [Quotations from Little Green Footballs]

And, secondly, how big and important the victory is can be best be understood from a study published by the Hudson Institute’s Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World. It tells how the jihadists in Iraq, Zarqawi and his successors, prepared to re-establish the caliphate. They even had the caliph chosen and ready. They saw this as a step to Islamic world domination. After Zarqawi himself was killed in June 2006, his followers ‘determined to turn Iraq into a battleground [and] the incubator for their grand vision of a unified Islamic empire under the aegis of a ruling caliph.’ This vision enthralled a new generation of jihadists. As  a winning ‘al-Qaeda in Iraq’ (assuming, as it were, the al-Qaeda franchise) they could have drawn thousands more fighters. They declared an ‘Islamic State of Iraq’ which was to be the center of victorious Islam, with Baghdad as its capital. Had the surge not take place, had it not turned the local tribal leaders against the jihadis, the triumph of militant Islam over the United States would have been seen throughout the Islamic world as a victory of historic proportions, ‘a victorious Islamic regeneration’; a caliphate might well have been established, and the non-Muslim world subjected to an onslaught of terrorism – possibly nuclear terrorism – without precedent.

The study is long, but very interesting and well worth reading. Here are two riveting passages from it:

The American public was uncurious as to the identity, nature, and goals of its enemy in Iraq. And, unfortunately, U.S. leaders and commanders were mostly complicit in such willful unawareness. The lack of interest on the part of the public was partly due to bitter partisan recriminations over the Bush administration’s policy in waging the Iraq war, and over who in Washington was to blame for the insurgency that ensued. Consequently, the doctrines of the Bush administration regarding preemptive strikes and democracy in the Middle East came under incessant scrutiny from the administration’s domestic political foes. Meanwhile, the doctrines of the jihadists were overlooked or, in the few cases where they were considered, dismissed as esoteric. Fantastical as they may be, these doctrines do indeed motivate and inform the enemy’s actions and strategy, and their significance was not recognized…

The corollary to the military defeat now being experienced by the jihadists is the even more agonizing prospect of doctrinal collapse: the heralded caliphate is stillborn, and the glorious vision of a reinvigorated Islamic state has been smashed. The anguish and demoralization brought about by this byproduct of battlefield victory cannot be overstated. To smash the dreams of a man who lives for a cause, who endures cruel deserts and damp caves while awaiting martyrdom, is a fate far worse than death. In a battle of wills, young men are able to summon the necessary willpower to press a button and to detonate themselves among innocent bystanders. They do so for the cause of jihad, and for the deferred utopia of a resurrected and avenging Islamic world power. Nothing breaks the will of the individual jihadist more than to see his ideology begin to bear fruit, only to watch that fruit rot away right before his eyes. Such has been the impact of the Zarqawist Islamic State of Iraq—the caliphate-to-be, under the Commander of the Faithful Abu Umar al-Baghdadi the Qurayshite—and such the bitter aftertaste of its ruinous downfall.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Sunday, November 16, 2008

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