Brave New World
Bill Roggio has a piece describing internecine fighting between Al Qaeda and homegrown insurgents at Threatswatch.
The reasons for the infighting are varied, but often al-Qaeda oversteps its bounds with the local Iraqis. In some cases, al-Qaeda attempts to skim from the profits of criminal enterprises, sometimes well in excess of 50%. Sometimes the terrorists attempt to install its draconian form of Taliban-like rule in local communities, and murder the residents for minor offenses of the law. al-Qaeda is insensitive to the fact that civilians are often caught in the crossfire of their horrific suicide attacks; in fact civilians are often the main targets. And al-Qaeda occasionally makes the penultimate mistake of intimidating or even killing insurgent leaders or respected members of the tribes. ...
The Albu Mahal tribe is now an ally of the Iraqi government, and provides the majority of the troops for the Desert Protection Force, which is a organization of the local tribal fighters that provide for local security and act as scouts for Iraqi Army and U.S. Marines operating in the area. Strategy Page reports the Desert Protection Force is resisting deployment out of the Qaim region because they would not be able to fight al-Qaeda; “Tribes there are willing to support the DPF, but want solid assurances that their boys will remain in the province – they see the DPF as helping them keep control of their own turf, which happens to include keeping al Qaeda out.”
Just One Minute has a roundup of MSM stories describing some of these events, such as this one by Dexter Filkins.
In October, the two insurgents said in interviews, a group of local fighters from the Islamic Army gathered for an open-air meeting on a street corner in Taji, a city north of Baghdad. Across from the Iraqis stood the men from Al Qaeda, mostly Arabs from outside Iraq. Some of them wore suicide belts. The men from the Islamic Army accused the Qaeda fighters of murdering their comrades.
Yahoo carries a speech by Lt Gen John Vines describing the "disarray" in enemy ranks.
"So there are a fair number of indicators that tell us currently Al-Qaeda in Iraq is in disarray," he told reporters here via video link from Baghdad ... Vines said large numbers of followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, have been killed or captured in recent months, including in a series of US offensives along the Euphrates river and along the Syrian border. "Some of them went to the hereafter," he said. "Many of them are dead."
The LA Times carries this story today about Sunnis lining up to join the government police force.
A little after 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Qassan Ashar Ali, 24, and his brother Omar made their way past three checkpoints, two bomb-sniffing dogs and an X-ray truck and became the first recruits to enter the glass factory in Ramadi after last week's bombing.
Behind them were at least 225 young Sunni men, many carrying sport bags with clean clothes, toiletries and pictures of loved ones for their trip to the police academy in Baghdad.
"We've been scared for a long time," Ali said. "We've had enough."
OIF is a bomb that has detonated deep within the social structure of Iraq. Unlike air strikes which affect only physical structures, ground involvement creates immense changes in the political and social relationships of the country occupied. Embargos, sanctions and even limited attacks send strong signals to an enemy state, but they leave its inner core untouched. At most they can provide encouragement to a regime's enemies but they cannot directly overthrow it. OIF disturbed international diplomats precisely because it violated the primary rule of the postwar world: that states should remain inviolable. OIF wasn't about sending a signal. It was about destroying and remaking an established state.
That process was tantamount to a huge roll of the dice, for once a state is taken apart there is no telling how it will come together again. Especially a state as critically situated as Iraq: it lay along the Sunni-Shi'ite, Arab-Kurd and Arab-Persian faultlines -- not to mention its place in a key oil-producing region, besides being a stew of tribal politics. Iraq was a kind of geopolitical tentpole supporting a roof under tension. Little wonder that Europe whitened in apprehension as US forces gathered at the Kuwaiti border.
But since neither Europe nor the United Nations could in the end stop the American juggernaut the only realistic remaining course was to master the tides that had been unleashed. The fait was acompli. Precisely what those tides are is still unclear. In my own view the Wahabist groups, while still strong, are now clearly hurting (the Jawa report has the latest reactions in Pakistan to the American airstrike aimed at killed Zawahiri.) and the Mullahs in Iran now feel that their big opportunity has come. The political problem confronting the US political system, with the Bush administration in its waning years and the Democratic Party still committed to a return to the status quo antebellum, is that having gone far enough to upset the regional applecart, it is starting to have second thoughts about handling the forces that have been turned loose.
Oddly enough, it may be Europe which is now belatedly realizing the need to deal with the post-OIF world. Particularly because they have very little effective geopolitical power themselves, Europe's only chance of affecting events in the Levant, the Middle East and Southwest Asia lies in convincing the United States to do it on behalf of the "West". But the American political scene is an strange state of distortion. Perhaps because of its visceral hatred of President George Bush, American liberalism, for the first time since the end of the Second World War, is without a real foreign policy. Howard Kurtz in a Washington Post opinion piece called Dem vs Dem quotes Peter Beinart, who argues that an extreme form of parochialism has kept the Democratic Party from looking past it's nose.
"Why are MoveOn, Daily Kos, and so many other liberal activists so keen to find a primary challenger against Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman? . . .
"Lieberman's problem is that bloggers like Kos aren't very ideological either. Temperament defines them, too. It's just the opposite temperament. For Kos and the other Lieberman-haters, liberalism means confrontation, at least in the Bush era. In their view, politics should be guided by the spirit of war. If you don't want to crush conservatives, you are not a liberal.
"So Lieberman-hatred is really all about style, right? Actually, no -- there's one final slice, and it's the most important of all. Behind Lieberman's obsession with national unity is his deep conviction that the United States is at war -- not just in Iraq, but around the world. The war on terrorism is his prism for viewing Bush. And it drains away his anger at the president's misdeeds, because they always pale in comparison to those of America's true enemy. When the Abu Ghraib revelations broke, Lieberman said America should apologize, but then added that 'those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, never apologized.' . . .
"Yet, if Lieberman's view is one-dimensional, so is that of his critics. If he only sees Bush through the prism of war, they only see the war through the prism of Bush -- which is why they can muster so little anger at America's jihadist enemies and so little enthusiasm when Iraqis risk their lives to vote. Kos and MoveOn have conveniently convinced themselves that the war on terrorism is a mere subset of the struggle against the GOP. Whatever brings Democrats closer to power, ipso facto, makes the United States safer. That would be nice if it were true -- but it's clearly not, because, sometimes, Bush is right, and because, to some degree, our safety depends on his success."
And my sense is that this accusation is largely true. One of the biggest factors of instability in the world today is that the other major political party in the United States has no 21st century foreign policy. Wikipedia, in its survey of American liberalism, notes that the Cold War was fought very much on a bipartisan basis.
To begin with, Vietnam was a "liberal war", part of the strategy of containment of Soviet Communism. In the 1960 presidential campaign, the liberal Kennedy was more hawkish on Southeast Asia than the more conservative Nixon. Although it can be argued that the war expanded only under the less liberal Johnson, there was enormous continuity of their cabinets.
Roosevelt, Truman, JFK. The party which dropped the A-bomb, fought the war in Korea, built the Minuteman, started the race to the moon were in the end represented by John Kerry, who began his acceptance to the nomination for Presidency in 2004 with these words (actual audio transcription):
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, so much. Thank you. Thank you, so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty. Thank you.
But insofar as the world was concerned his party was missing in action.