Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Winning is as Easy as Flipping a COIN

It's commonly said that the foreign fighters who have poured into Iraq have made up a minority of the insurgency. This may be, but it's been al-Qaeda's goal to foment chaos, and fan the flames of sectarian violence. Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower, has said that as much as it's been al-Qaeda's desire to bog the U.S. down in Iraq, they, in turn became bogged down in Iraq, unable to gather the strength and the resources to put forth another terror attack on American soil.

I've also read that even though the majority of al-Qaeda in Iraq had its foot-soldiers recruited from the local Sunni population, its leadership is primarily made up of foreigners. Furthermore, 90% of the suicide bombers are foreign hirabahists and are responsible for the majority of civilian casualties in Iraq.

In today's NYTimes
, the headline reads, Suicide Bomber Kills 17 at Ceremony Near Capital. As Dennis Prager noted in his radio program today, the real headline grab should have read something like, "Become a suicide bomber, and we will punish your family". This in regards to a "homegrown" homicide bomber- one of the ten percenters- in Fallujah the previous day:
Meanwhile, in the wake of a suicide bombing on Sunday near Falluja in Anbar Province, local tribesmen burned the house of the young suicide bomber’s family and prevented a female cousin from collecting the bomber’s head for burial.
This is not about punishing the family for a wrong committed by a family member whose actions they may not have any kind of control over; but it sends the deterrent message out to future would-be terrorists that crimes have consequences. After all, it's not like you can punish the homicide bomber with capital punishment.

In 2007, there have been 8,800 terrorists captured with another 2,400 who have been sent to their virgins. Altogether, there are about 24,000 Iraqis who are held in detainment, with an attempt to rehabilitate and purge the extremism out of them. Not all are hardcore true-believers of the death cult branch of Islam. Amy Proctor writes,
In keeping with the current counterinsurgency strategy, the U.S. instructs these detainees in three areas: Religion, education, vocation. The purpose is to rehabilitate and reintegrate these Iraqis back into society once they have proven to no longer be a threat. The success rate is very high.

Why? Because ignorance is the main ingredient in terrorism. Hatred is a close second, but uneducated men who are easily led into misinterpretations about their religion are the ones preyed upon by al-Qaeda. We’ve seen in Anbar Province that it was sheiks and imams, educated religious leaders, who recognized the difference between true Islam and the heresy promulgated by apostates like Osama bin Laden and other terrorists.

Those who were cheerleading against the New Baghdad Security Plan, derisively criticized the fact that an olive branch was being extended to former insurgent "dead-enders" who months earlier were killing our soldiers. But turning foes into friends is nothing unique. In fact, it is necessary for the success of any COIN strategy. Did we not win over the "hearts and minds" of those who once served in Japan's imperial army? Should we have exterminated every last German who ever wore a Nazi uniform?

As Michael Totten wrote in Anbar Awakening PtII,

The Iraqis of Anbar Province turned against Al Qaeda and sided with the Americans in large part because Al Qaeda proved to be far more vicious than advertised. But it’s also because sustained contact with the American military – even in an explosively violent combat zone –convinced these Iraqis that Americans are very different people from what they had been led to believe. They finally figured out that the Americans truly want to help and are not there to oppress them or steal from them. And the Americans slowly learned how Iraqi culture works and how to blend in rather than barge in.

“We hand out care packages from the U.S. to Iraqis now that the area has been cleared of terrorists,” one Marine told me. “When we tell them that some of these packages aren’t from the military or the government, that they were donated by average American citizens in places like Kansas, people choke up and sometimes even cry. They just can’t comprehend it. It is so different from the lies they were told about us and how we’re supposed to be evil.”

We will not win the long war against Islamic extremism, simply by "killing them all"; but we will win it, by killing those not worth saving, and convincing the rest, who the real enemy of peace and civilization is. All Muslims who are being seduced by the siren calls for "jihad" in Iraq, should ask themselves:
  • Why have the Sunni tribes turned away from al-Qaeda? And embraced the help of Americans?
  • Who has been building schools and hospitals? And who has bombed mosques?
Sometimes life's complexities and the hand-wringing paralysis of moral relativism really can be cured by the simplicity of, "You're either with us, or with the terrorists." Good and evil. Those who fight on behalf of freedom, and those who are "evil-doers". Why muddy the clarity?

Other related posts:
Hugh Hewitt on Max Boot who just returned from Iraq

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