Funny how for months we’ve been picking apart the Anbar Awakening from a tactical point of view, all the while failing to take into account its single most significant strategic implication. Namely, that al-Qaida’s blueprint for Islamic revolution does not work.
The Military Review article I wrote up in an earlier post offered more evidence of what’s become the consensus explanation for the turning of the Sunni tribes: their disgust with al-Qaida Iraq’s murderous tactics and their resentment at the AQI “foreigners” trying to impose an internationalist jihadi ideology on what was essentially a nationalist insurgency. But al-Qaida, as a globalized, multi-national suicide bombing outfit, has no other operational doctrine and no native land to call its own. Which means its experience in Iraq is almost certain to be reproduced everywhere it goes.
Think about that for a second. At a time when eighty percent of the Arab world views America unfavorably, and in a war that a majority of Americans (let alone Iraqis) disapprove of, al-Qaida failed to establish a sustainable bridgehead. That’s not the mark of an organization that represents a strategic, existential threat to the United States.
By their nature, Al-Qaida in particular and terrorism in general pose very real threats to the lives and safety of American civilians, threats that need to be addressed firmly, resolutely and effectively. But anyone claiming they are anything more than that has not been paying close enough attention to the evidence of the Iraq War, of which they are usually the most vocal supporters.