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October 26, 2006



Without Americans to fight against, the al-Qaeda campaign in Iraq loses both its political justification and its main political payoff.

But, you're assuming Osama's main goal is to attack Americans in Iraq. I don't agree. I think he wants to attack Americans in America. And not troops, either. He wants to murder innocent Americans, when they least expect it... for maximum shock value. What makes you think Osama gives a damn about an Islamic state? His organization has succeeded in the past by being stateless.

In the early 1970s, Yasser Arafat started the civil war in Lebanon, to create a FAILED state from which to attack Israel.

In 1983, Hezbollah drove the peacekeepers out of Lebanon with two massive suicide bombings, to make sure that Lebanon remained a failed state, so that they could continue to operate free of any state constraints. Which they did, their terrorism both inside and outside of Lebanon continued. Argentinian prosecutors indicted Rafsanjani just yesterday for Hezbollah's murder of over 200 people in Lebanon in the early 1990s.

Hezbollah started a war with Israel a few months ago, to keep Lebanon a failed state.

After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, Osama (Al Qaeda) helped the Taliban seize control, so that he could keep Afghanistan a failed state. Incidentally, I think that is EXACTLY what Osama would like to do in Iraq. Drive the US out and then assist one of the factions to drive Iraq all the way back to the stone age. Just like he did in Afghanistan.

Anyway... terrorists have used a model of a FAILED state as a base of operations for 30 years. Why do you think they want to do things differently, now?


Sorry about saying it was you arguing Al Qaeda wanted an Islamic state, that was the author you quoted. I disagree with both of you :)

Osama needs both the ideological victory of driving the US out of Iraq and he needs the free reign of an Iraq that is in a state of chaos. That's my opinion. That's the only way Al Qaeda emerges with anything like a victory, in Iraq. Any other type of US failure in Iraq is a victory for Iran, and a loss for Al Qaeda.


Craig, you haven't addressed the political aims of Al Qaeda that the Aardvark is commenting on. Regardless of whether Osama would rather strike Americans in Baghdad or New York, Al Qaeda is playing for an audience. The fact seems to be that they retain little support, even among Sunni Arabs in Iraq. They require US presence to justify much of their position there. Aardvark outlined why it would be difficult for them to gain a free hand in Sunni areas in a post pull out situation, thus why they're less dangerous to us there in an international terrorism context. It follows that a goal of attacking us here rather than there isn't furthered by an American retreat. Furthermore, the Taliban had pretty considerable control over Afghanistan and its many factions, in fact, establishing law and order initially made them popular. Hezbollah enjoys a lot of support in Lebanon, including a demographic constituency (Shia). These situations both differ from what a failed state in Sunni Iraq may look like if you take Aardvark's anlysis to heart. It will be more difficult for Al Qaeda to push their 'Clash of Civilizations' rallying cry in the Mid East if the focus is on fighting btw factions in Iraq.



The fact seems to be that they retain little support, even among Sunni Arabs in Iraq. They require US presence to justify much of their position there.

I don't agree. You just said they don't have much backing in the arab world... yet, they are in Iraq right now and have been all along. What makes you think they'd have to go, if the US did?

And there is nothing Al Qaeda could do that would garner them more support and credibilty than drive the US from Iraq. The US is much hated in the ME.

No Preference

Craig, "al Qaeda" is not our opponent in Iraq. Even the US military considers foreign Islamists to be a small part of the insurgency.


He might be right that the al-Qaeda propagandists would portray it as a great victory of America - but this should point to an aggressive American public diplomacy campaign to deny them that narrative, not to staying in an untenable position just because we're afraid of what they might say about us.

Er, Marc, considering your prior complaints about the quality of US public diplomacy, are you sure that's a good idea?

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