Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Quorum of Cowards in the US Congress, Yes--But Not in the US Military

While "cut and run" legislators proudly boast of their cowardice and lack of global savvy, the ever-strengthening US military has a slightly different point of view:
“We try to maintain contact with the enemy as long as possible and kill as many as we can,” Gant said. “We were going to do some serious damage that day.

“It is easy to sit in a room in safety and talk about it,” he said. “I came here to fight. I came here to kill the enemy. I knew at the time what a huge engagement it was... I also had a huge concern for my team and my Iraqis, because I love these guys. I wanted to ensure that we didn’t take unnecessary risks or have unnecessary casualties.”

He decided that he needed to get the insurgents out of their well-built positions. It was obvious to him that this complex attack was well planned. They mounted up and started to move again toward Baghdad still taking fire from both sides.

Many bloggers share the ignorance of global dynamics with the cut and run legislators and journalists, who constitute the "squeakiest wheel" in domestic US chatter. Some of them are fairly informed and careful in other areas of their blogging. It is difficult to blame them too much for not being as informed and clearheaded as those of us better positioned to see more of the factors in play.

The world has not forgotten America's abandonment of the South Vietnamese and later the Kurds, and our allies must now fear that another abandonment is in the offing. One reason the United States is short on friends throughout the world is that we haven't stood by our allies in the past. The consequence of another hasty retreat must be considered: our reputation will suffer and those who aligned with us in Iraq will pay a heavy price.

The debate over withdrawal comes as America's allies are making important progress. The media has finally begun to notice the Anbar Salvation Front, a collection of Sunni tribesmen, Iraqi nationalists, ex-Baathists, and others who are united by the common goal of driving al Qaeda from their country. Based in the Anbar province, which was long an al Qaeda stronghold, the Anbar Salvation Front is led by Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi, a charismatic tribal leader who has seen many of his family members killed by al Qaeda.

The Anbar Salvation Front provides an Iraqi-based opposition to al Qaeda, and one with local legitimacy. The Front has already yielded four distinct advantages.

First, it has started to provide stability on the ground through emergency response units (ERUs) that serve a policing function. Already, four ERUs consisting of 750 men apiece are operational, and there are enough volunteers to fill out six more--a total of 7,500 men. Although there are conflicting accounts as to how much training ERU personnel will have, high-ranking intelligence sources believe the Anbar Salvation Front is attempting to avoid past blunders in which unprepared police lost public confidence through massive human rights abuses.

Second, the Front has developed an intelligence network that gives U.S. forces unprecedented access to information about insurgent activities. In the past, Sunnis who wanted to report insurgent activity would have to tell U.S. troops directly--and the consequences of being seen with American soldiers can be fatal. Sunnis won't be killed for meeting with Anbar Salvation Front members, who have provided a means for vital information to reach the Americans.

Third, the Anbar Salvation Front has been able to mount a theological challenge to the clerics who have issued rulings in support of al Qaeda's Iraqi jihad. In early April, a committee of 40 prominent religious scholars met in Amman, Jordan to establish the "council of ulema of Iraq." This council hopes to undercut the theological legitimacy that al Qaeda in Iraq claims. Its rulings are designed to undermine those issued by clerics who favor al Qaeda's activities, such as the November 2004 edict issued by a group of Saudi Arabian scholars that lent legitimacy to the jihad in Iraq.

Finally, the Front's activities are extending beyond the Anbar province, as al-Rishawi is forming a national political party known as Iraq Awakening. In April, more than 200 Sunni sheikhs met in Anbar to form this party, which opposes al Qaeda and plans to cooperate with the government in Baghdad. Iraq Awakening will run a slate of candidates in Anbar's upcoming provincial elections and in the next parliamentary balloting in 2009.

Too many of these loud but uninformed bloggers take a "hands waving wildly in the air in an expression of mindless abandon" attitude toward what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other fronts of the Islamic terror war. Many others who take a more intelligent approach to seeking information, seek out news sources closer to the reality.
Diyala has become the main hub of al Qaeda's operations. Al Qaeda in Iraq made Baqubah the capital of its rump Islamic State of Iraq. Since the inception of the Baghdad Security Plan in mid-February, the security situation, which was deteriorating after U.S. forces pulled back last fall, has markedly worsened. Al Qaeda has prepared fighting positions, supply bases, IED traps, bomb rigged buildings, and training camps in the province.

Over 2,000 hardened al Qaeda fighters fled Baghdad and are operating in Diyala. An American intelligence official and a U.S. military officer informs us that al Qaeda is operating along the lines of Hezbollah's military structure in Lebanon. Recent al Qaeda attacks in the region bear this out. Al Qaeda is organized in small military units with infantry, mortars, anti-tank and anti-aircraft teams, as well as suicide and IED cells and the accompanying logistical nodes. Al Qaeda has been conducting a terror campaign to remove tribal leaders and others who oppose them, while waging a campaign of intimidation designed to cower the local population.

The U.S. and Iraqi security forces have preparing the battlefield in Diyala until the full compliment of U.S. forces are in theater and able to finish securing the Baghdad "belts" - the regions surrounding Baghdad. The Diyala Campaign is only is its opening phase, with U.S. and Iraqi forces conducting raids, search and destroy missions, establishing forward operating bases and logistic nodes in preparation for the full assault sometime early this summer. The establishment of the yet to be named Diyala Salvation Front is a crucial element to establishing local intelligence networks and an auxiliary force to hunt al Qaeda.

Even with the best of information, without the necessary cognitive experience and apparatus to process the information, most people are lost--particularly when so much disinformation is coming from the news media and politicians.

While the cut and run critics of the war to sustain western civilisation against the neo-barbarians sleep at night, smug in their self-righteousness, the warriors who fight their battles for them--making sure they have the freedom and security to criticise their defenders--are often going with little sleep and less than appetizing food. But these warriors are far from breaking, as the critics like to claim. In fact, they are steaming mad at the media for misrepresenting their reality. And they are coming back angry and motivated to settle some scores on the homefront.

Many of them will take their domestic battles into the workplace, the academy, the government, and--yes--the media. That returning warriors will take their battle to the blogosphere goes without saying, since that is already happening.

I can only hope that the cut and run types do not succeed in cutting all of our throats, which in fact is what they are unwittingly trying to do.

No comments: