Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Zarqawi Revisited

One year ago last week on June 7, 2006 the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in a U.S. air strike. Unfortunately Al Qaeda didn’t have to scratch up a publicity campaign in order to perform damage control. No… they had the luxury of relying on Western Liberals to do it for them.

There was a flurry of articles stating that the insurgency would not suffer from this loss and some even claimed that the insurgency would actually be invigorated by the death of its most prominent figure. Such sentiment was echoed by political hacks like the culture critic at the Washington Post, Philip Kennicott. In addition to his optimism that the insurgency could benefit from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s “martyrdom”, Kennicott cried foul because he was worried that the death of Zarqawi was being politicized by our government. Yet Kennicott ignores his own politicization of the event. Furthermore, he doesn’t bother to consider that during times of war our government has the right to promote such victories in order to support our troops in the field … At least as much as he has a right to harangue his readers in an effort to undermine the hard work that our troops put into tracking down Zarqawi.

The government was only doing its job by congratulating our troops on a job well done. In times of war this is not unprecedented. Take for instance the Doolittle Raid which was conducted on April 18th, 1942 at the low point of the American war effort against the Japanese Empire. Shortly after this raid the fortress of Corregidor fell and the Japanese conquest of the Philippines was completed. Basically the raid was militarily insignificant because it failed to cause any lasting damage and was not immediately followed up by more air raids. However, it was a propaganda triumph since it marked the first time that the U.S. successfully bombed the Japanese home islands. Our government zealously used the raid to promote its efforts against our enemies and our current government could hardly be blamed for doing the same in the case of Zarqawi’s death. If any motives should be suspect it should be of those Americans who criticize the promotion of a military success that benefits our troops in Iraq and instead explores every possible avenue to spread propaganda against them.

I am not saying that the freedom of speech for such activists should be curtailed in any way. I am merely making the observation that their accusations should be put into proper context and I hope that my own freedom to criticize them in turn is respected as well. Freedom of Speech needs to be a two-way street.

An article in the NYC newspaper, The Indypendent, highlights the extremes that self-professed Advocacy Journalists or Alternative Journalists would go to spin Zarqawi’s death. One of The Indypendent’s writers by the name of A.K. Gupta declared, “…Bush Administration policies promoting sectarianism and death squads also ensure the fighting will continue…”

In a calculated gesture of misinformation Gupta breezes by Al Qaeda’s dependence on sectarian violence and blames President Bush for it. The real source of the current violence should not be glossed over so quickly. Zarqawi championed the complete elimination of the Shia. Two months before his death Zarqawi issued a recorded statement which dictated that, “The Muslims will have no victory or superiority over the aggressive infidels such as the Jews and the Christians until there is a total annihilation of those under them such as the apostate agents headed by the rafidha (Shiites)…” So Zarqawi actually viewed the Shia as a worse enemy than the United States!!! He was rather direct on this point, “The danger from the Shia… is greater and their damage is worse and more destructive to the (Islamic) nation than the Americans… we will hurt them, God willing, through martyrdom operations and car bombs.”

Zarqawi’s words were backed up by a campaign of mass murder that was orchestrated to spark all out war between the Sunnis and Shiites. In March 2004 he was responsible for attacks on Shia shrines in Karbala and Baghdad, which killed over 180 people. In December 2004 he masterminded car bomb attacks against Shiites in Najaf and Karbala, claiming over 60 lives. In addition to many other sectarian attacks he is also believed to be responsible for the bombing of the Golden Mosque in early 2006, which finally succeeded in instigating all out sectarian warfare between the Sunni and Shia. After Zarqawi’s death Al Qaeda continued to use the same sectarian tactics. Just today the Golden Mosque was attacked once again. Sectarian warfare is clearly the policy of the Sunni insurgency and they benefit the most from the instability that it causes.

The Indypendent article was so biased that it actually echoed Al Qaeda propaganda by stating that Zarqawi’s death was a boon for his supporters. Gupta pronounced, “Not that everything is lost for Zarqawi’s followers. Now they have a new martyr to rally around.” It was a very similar tone to a statement published on an Al Qaeda website stating, “We announce the martyr death of our sheikh, fighter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. (His death will) only reinforce our determination to pursue jihad so that the word of Allah gains the upper hand.” (Only the religious fervor is missing from the Indypendent’s article.)

Despite their cheerleading, the Indypendent is not consciously on Al Qaeda’s side. They just harbor a pathological aversion to President Bush. So they fail to ponder the fact that their staunch opposition to the U.S. –in combination with– their silence against the brutal methodology behind terrorism is as charitable as donating weapons or money to Al Qaeda. It’s actually worse because weapons and money are only the means by which Al Qaeda seeks to achieve its goal of generating such media stories. The success of their manipulation of the media only encourages more brutal attacks against innocent civilians because it makes such violence a much more valuable commodity.

These news stories are vital to terrorists because they cannot raise an army large enough to defeat an enemy like the United States. They can only hope to break the will of their opponent’s civilian population to support its war effort and shift the blame for their own violence to their enemies. Ever since World War I warring armies have gained a greater appreciation for the value of propaganda. No one understands this better than modern-day terrorists. They actually wage war with the intent of using it for propaganda and don’t use the traditional model of promoting propaganda to support their war effort.

Unfortunately the Indypendent willingly follows the path laid out for them since they actually train future generations of journalists to corrupt their writing. The newspaper holds weekend-long workshops on journalism that teaches its students to assume a one-sided bias in order to discredit the establishment that they hate so much (Al Qaeda is not a part of the establishment so they don’t warrant a second glance, unless it embarrasses the Bush Administration.)

In a discussion of these workshops they addressed their students’ concerns about objectivity in the media. While they make a good point that accuracy is one of the most important aspects of journalism, the workshop goes on to promote political activism as a higher virtue than objectivity. Editor John Tarleton stated, “…we shouldn’t forget that power tends to corrupt and that those who hold power and wealth will often abuse it while trying to conceal or spin their activities. What we’re striving to do is tell the story of the world around us from the bottom-up instead of with the usual top-down perspective of the giant media corporations.” Interesting enough, earlier in the linked article Tarleton had also cited ‘open-mindedness’ as another important aspect of journalism, but judging from the previous comment he has already made up his mind about what to write before starting any story. ‘Open-mindedness’ in this case is complete agreement with his activism against the alleged conspiracies of a conniving upper class.

The leading intellectual of this school of thought is Noam Chomsky. His idea of media bias was the accusation that the Cambodian dictatorship of Pol Pot was unfairly criticized due to the alleged anti-Communist sentiment of the media. The opposite was true. Chomsky defended the Khmer Rouge because of his anti-American bias. Under Pol Pot the Khmer Rouge exterminated an estimated one to three million Cambodians. So in recent times it is not surprising that he is also a leading critic of the Iraqi reconstruction. He consistently takes the side of America’s enemies no matter how reprehensible they may be.

The prevalence of such a strong leftwing bias against the US government led to a hysterical reaction to Zarqawi’s death. Take Michael Berg for example. He is the father of Nicholas Berg, an American civilian who was believed to have been personally beheaded by Zarqawi. Although his son was killed by Al Qaeda, Michael Berg blamed President Bush for his son’s death.

Even before his son’s killer finally paid for his crimes Michael Berg displayed a bizarre sympathy towards Al Qaeda that was akin to something like Stockholm Syndrome. In the wake of his son’s death he said, “I am sure that he (Nicholas Berg) only saw the good in his captors until the last second of his life. They did not know what they were doing. They killed their best friend.” Such cloudy reasoning could have been attributed to Michael Berg’s grief, but it is also consistent with his statements made years later after he had time to reflect.

During this time Michael Berg rarely condemned Zarqawi, instead he reserved almost all of his bitterness towards our President, who he insisted was as bad as or worse than Zarqawi. This was his reaction to Zarqawi’s death in an interview video taped by CNN’s Mary Snow;

“I think it is a tragedy when any human being dies, but Zarqawi’s doubly because Zarqawi, aside from being someone’s son who is now going to suffer what my family suffered, he is also a political figure. And he and George Bush are involved in this cycle of revenge and revenge begets revenge… I think that one is cowardly. The man in the oval office doesn’t look at his victims when he kills them…”

When challenged if he thought that the murder of his son by Zarqawi was a brave act Michael Berg responded, “No I’m not saying that Zarqawi committed a brave act, I abhor what he did, I’m just saying that he looked into Nick’s eyes when he killed him.”

Wow! ... There is a serious lack of context in Michael Berg’s reasoning here. Whether he intends to or not he gives credit to Zarqawi for not being a ‘coward’, as he accuses President Bush of. He also gives Zarqawi a small measure of legitimacy by saying that he was “a political figure”. Did Zarqawi run for election? How can a terrorist be elevated to an equal or even higher level than an elected official that is the legal representative of his people?

This derangement is the result of a propaganda echo chamber that elevates the hatred of our President into a fever pitch. Michael Berg tortures himself with his political activism and this is no way to mourn such a loss. The whole situation is actually a best case scenario for his son’s killers and it is no mystery as to why they chose the tactics that they do. For the most part, terrorism increases because these tactics are so effective against its target audience, Western Liberals. That’s why in victory or defeat Al Qaeda could count on their message to be echoed by Western Liberals and filtered out to the media.

Let’s take another look at Michael Berg’s reaction to Zarqawi’s death. He added, “…My feelings this morning are feelings of sorrow for the loss of yet another human being. I know he’s the one that is supposed to have killed my son, but I have learned to forgive a long time ago and I regret mostly that his death will bring about another wave of revenge from his cohorts in Al Qaeda.”

Why does Michael Berg continually forgive the terrorist who killed his son and yet refuse to forgive President Bush who did not commit the murder? Pacifism and loving forgiveness are some of the highest human traits that makes us a more advanced species than any other creature on this planet. However, there is no love in this forgiveness, only spite for President Bush. I understand that leftwing activists believe the President to be a “liar” and a “warmonger”, but is beheading an innocent civilian the measure of honesty or bravery? Zarqawi was a terrorist before Bush became president, why does he deserve forgiveness and Bush doesn’t?

Anyways, we’ve examined how the Washington Post, The Indypendent and Michael Berg have exhausted every argument to convince the public that Zarqawi’s death wouldn’t make a difference or could actually benefit Al Qaeda. … But is there any truth to these claims?

Iraq is certainly as violent as ever so in one crucial aspect it could be said that maybe they are right… However, there have been some dramatic developments over the year and the death of Zarqawi was an essential ingredient that enabled an important shift in the composition of the counterinsurgency.

Up until Zarqawi’s death the terrorist mastermind was consolidating the insurgency under his leadership. Even in the wake of his worst defeat, the Battle of Fallujah, two Iraqi insurgent groups joined forces with Zarqawi, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army and the Islamic Army in Iraq. Through his adept hand at using the latest technology to promote his propaganda, his fearsome brutality, his ability to elude capture and the perception that he crafted of an effortless transfer of his terrorist operations to Ramadi - Zarqawi pervaded a superhuman aura that magnetized the insurgency around him.

A year before his death U.S. military intelligence revealed that Zarqawi commanded thousands of fighters from various rival groups and dominated the smaller resistance groups in the pivotal city of Ramadi. A resident of the city related the following; “His men announced through leaflets that all Shia should leave Ramadi or face ‘the iron fist’. At first local Sunnis didn’t want anything to do with it, but they know how powerful Zarqawi’s group is, that it doesn’t hesitate to kill and is not afraid to die. They control Ramadi now. They have the best weapons and the most money, and more and more men. They walk openly on the streets when the Americans aren’t around. So the Shias left, by their thousands.”

In order to counter Zarqawi’s hold on Ramadi American commanders held meetings with local Sheiks in November of 2005. Although the Sheiks were enthusiastic about American proposals for cooperation, Zarqawi squashed the potential alliance in a fit of violence.

However, in the aftermath of Zarqawi’s death Al Qaeda lost its momentum. There was a short spike in violence, but something was dramatically different. Al Qaeda in Iraq seemed directionless. A website frequently used by Islamic militants announced that a little known terrorist named Sheikh Abu Hamza al Muhajir was appointed as Zarqawi’s replacement. This led to a stir of confusion by terrorist experts. The U.S. military came to the conclusion that al Muhajir was actually an alias for Abu Ayyub al-Masri, an experienced associate of Zarqawi who based his operations in Iraq even before the ouster of Saddam in 2003. Egyptian lawyer, Muntasir al-Zayyat, claims that the person identified as al-Masri is really a fellow Egyptian named Yusif al-Dardiri.

Whatever the identity of al Muhajir may be, Al Qaeda could not handle the disarray that they added to the mix when a video by a spokesman of its Islamic State of Iraq announced that al Muhajir was only the Minister of War in the “cabinet” of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. Al-Masri then pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi in a muddy succession that failed to impress anyone. Clearly both parties are not as strong willed as Zarqawi and cannot live up to the legacy of their predecessor. This demonstrates that Al Qaeda in Iraq has lost much of its flair for propaganda. Most Americans don’t even know the name of any Al Qaeda operative in the country anymore. Despite claims that al-Masri was killed early this spring, the terrorist has failed to personally issue a message of denial. While it looks like the claim might have been false, it is telling that while Al Qaeda has denied his death they were only able to scrounge up an old audio tape of al-Masri which denies that there is infighting between the Sunnis and Al Qaeda, but doesn’t even mention claims of his death. It is an uncharacteristic for Al Qaeda to be so defensive and not to seize upon an opportunity to drum up some valuable press by releasing a mocking video or audio tape that the Western media would have fallen over themselves to cover. The authoritative guidance of Zarqawi is clearly missing and it shows. Iraqi Sunnis have taken notice.

[The announcement of Al Qaeda’s “Islamic State of Iraq” was a comically pathetic attempt to look sophisticated. Even the well funded terrorist organization could have afforded a lot more than just an empty desk and a flat screen monitor with speakers…]

Earlier I mentioned that Zarqawi had scored some successes in Ramadi. He kicked out a large portion of the Shiite population and dominated the local Iraqi police force. If it wasn’t for the presence of American troops he would have seized complete control over the city just like he did in Fallujah. However, since his death things have dramatically changed.

In response to Zarqawi’s brutal campaign in Ramadi U.S. Army Col. Sean MacFarland began to implement aggressive new tactics in the city. He started to establish combat outposts deep in Al Qaeda strongholds. These outposts were so strongly defended that Al Qaeda couldn’t remove them, putting a serious dent in their over-inflated reputation. The new stations enabled our troops to directly support our Sunni allies where they needed it. So when Al Qaeda’s attacks against these outposts failed they focused their attacks once again on pro-American Iraqis. In an attempt to replicate the decisiveness of Zarqawi’s thuggery his successors made a huge mistake by killing a Ramadi Sheik and not allowing the family to bury him for four days. This event was the catalyst of a sustained Sunni revolt against Al Qaeda. The formation of the Anbar Salvation Council went mostly unnoticed when it began operations against Al Qaeda only a few months after the death of Zarqawi (in September of 2006).

The organization is headquartered in Ramadi and was founded by a prominent Sunni Sheik, Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi. He was a former member of the secular neo-Baathist insurgent group Al-Awda and had actually been imprisoned several times by the Americans. The Anbar Salvation Council has since pushed Al Qaeda out of Ramadi and most of the Anbar province. To prevent Al Qaeda from re-entering the city Ramadi police have had to set up a screen of checkpoints on its outskirts because the terrorists have been retaliating by sending suicide bombers from their remaining pockets in Anbar and other Iraqi provinces. In Western Ramadi U.S. troops haven’t experienced a single death in four months and have had only one serious injury during that time. Only the eastern portion of the city has a few insurgent holdouts.

By May of 2006 the whole city of Ramadi had 254 attacks total, but during the same months in 2007 there have only been 30 (and U.S. troops didn’t win control over the city until March). For all of 2006 only 1,000 Iraqis volunteered for the Iraqi Security Forces in the entire Anbar Province, however, since the beginning of 2007 over 12,000 Iraqi citizens have volunteered. These developments were significant because the 2004 U.S. victory in Fallujah created an exodus of fighters to Ramadi and the city became the new capital of the insurgency. The loss of another base of operations is a major blow to Al Qaeda.

The stakes are high so any American success story is guaranteed a chorus of naysayers. Last year Common Dreams featured an article about Ramadi that was originally published by the L.A. Times. They reported, “The death last week of Jordanian-born terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi may have dealt a psychological blow to the Iraq insurgency, but it is not expected to dent the destabilizing power of anti-American guerrillas in Al Anbar.”

Such activists found the Holy Grail in a classified intelligence report entitled, “State of the Insurgency in Al-Anbar”. It was partially leaked in late 2006. This was only a few months before the unraveling of Al Qaeda in the Anbar province and just in time for the November elections. Although the details of the report were not publicly revealed because the report was top secret, the media and “antiwar” movement seized upon it as evidence of the failure of American policy in Iraq.

Here is an excerpt of the report printed by the Washington Post; “Al-Qaeda itself, now an ‘integral part of the social fabric of western Iraq’, has become so entrenched, autonomous and financially independent that U.S. forces no longer have the option ‘for a decapitating strike that would cripple the organization’, the report says. That is why, it says, the death of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June ‘had so little impact on the structure and capabilities of al-Qaeda’, especially in Anbar province.”

Incredibly, an NBC News correspondent (Jim Miklaszewski) used the report to chase a reporter’s pipedream to be the first to announce a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq (or at least a partial withdrawal). Miklaszewski creatively added his own interpretation of the situation by stating, “The top U.S. commander in Iraq said Tuesday there has been some military and economic progress in Anbar, but for the first time, it appears the U.S. military is preparing to concede a large piece of Iraq to the enemy and leave it entirely to the Iraqis to eventually sort it out.” If you look at the source of the quote you will see that it was made by Marine Major General Richard C. Zilmer, who was a regional commander in the province and not the top commander in Iraq as Miklaszewski erroneously states. It should also be pointed out that Zilmer never mentioned any preparation to evacuate his command so the second half of the sentence is a complete fabrication. As General Zilmer said earlier in the article, “Recent media reports fail to accurately capture the entirety and complexity of the current situation”. The NBC article shows that the general was being too generous in his assessment.

In the linked Washington Post article above there is also a video interview with Thomas Ricks, a reporter for the Post who sums up what he claims to be the Pentagon’s views on the state of Iraq. Basically his news brief is on par with what you would expect from a junior high school social studies report. I would be extremely disturbed if Ricks did not misrepresent the Pentagon by either quoting those that are not in a position to represent the agency or if he merely used his own artistic license to craft their words into his own. I can grudgingly live with activist journalists, but our military leaders should be free from this kind of political maneuvering.

When asked if the Pentagon agrees with President Bush’s assessment that Al Qaeda has fomented the sectarian violence in Iraq through their brutal attacks against the Shiites, Ricks goes off the board. He concludes that, “the Pentagon analysis definitely says that the roadside bombs which are the main killer of American troops are not an Al Qaeda operation and tend to be Iraqi insurgents”. What the hell does roadside bombs that target Americans have to do with sectarian violence in Iraq? This is clearly an argument built upon political activism. If we were talking about sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims then Ricks (or whoever he is quoting, if he didn’t take their stance out of context) would at least have some evidence that is almost relevant to justify such a stance. The reality is that insurgent IED Attacks on American troops do not contribute in any appreciable manner to the sectarian violence that is plaguing the Sunnis and Shiites. This is just shoddy reporting.

The news brief just gets worse from here. Ricks is then asked if the Pentagon has a strategy for dealing with the problematic Shiite militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. So he launches into a rant about how powerful the Pentagon believes that Al-Sadr is becoming. Ricks went as far as to say that, “He (Al-Sadr) now has an armed force of between 40 to 60,000 which makes him probably a much more effective military force than the Iraqi government itself...”

In times of war most intelligent military leaders typically attempt to intimidate their enemies and motivate their support base by exaggerating the capabilities of their forces. In modern times America’s enemies are relieved of such pursuits because the American media will invariably engage in such propaganda on their behalf.

At the time of Rick’s report there were about 319,000 trained and equipped Iraqi Security Forces (now there are about 350,000). While the quality of these recruits can legitimately be challenged, the performance of Al Sadr’s militia has proven them to be of the lowest quality. The Mahdi Army draws its recruits from Iraq’s poorest slums and in many cases their militia members have been sent into battle barefooted and under equipped. Most importantly they have failed in every major military objective. Al Sadr’s militia has only been able to score any success when they have significantly outnumbered their enemies. In any case, having almost 300,000 less fighters than the government hardly gives the militia military superiority over the Iraqi government. (Which is also allied to the powerful Coalition forces. That’s another 100,000+ troops with heavy armor and airpower.) This analysis reeks of the biased ignorance that could be expected from a journalist with an agenda. Actually I can’t see how such an incorrect evaluation could be labeled as an analysis. It is clearly nothing but propaganda.

Anyways, the NBC reporter that was interviewing Ricks had to interrupt him because he was not addressing the question. So he rephrased it by saying, “Its one thing for the Pentagon to have an assessment about the capability of Muqtada al-Sadr, but do they have a plan for dealing with it?” You just have to watch the video to believe Ricks’ answer.

He said;

“I don’t think that they really do. Their plan is… the political people should come up with a political compromise that takes care of Muqtada al-Sadr. But I think there’s kind of a despair of that they don’t see that happening and so I was really surprised when I was doing this interview at the Pentagon that what was said was WE PROBABLY SHOULD ABANDON THE POLICY OF RECONCILIATION, of trying to get the Sunnis and the Shiites to sit down together and really throw in our lot with the Shiites and the feeling was that’s the way we might diffuse Muqtada al-Sadr and make him more of a political act and less than a military one.”

Ricks claimed that this statement came from a top Pentagon official. He continued by saying this official insisted that, “We tried reconciliation now for several years, it hasn’t worked, we should tell the Shiites OK you have the country you’re in control. He said yes, the Sunnis will probably walk out at that point and we are going to have to pay that price and just say OK it didn’t work. The Shiites are now in control of this country and then he said double the size of the Iraqi army and police and hire every Shiite you can find and create a Shiite Kurdish military. He said this is a prospect the Sunnis aren’t going to like, but this is a situation the Sunnis have now created.”

I would love to know who this mysterious top Pentagon official is. When such buffoons look at Iraq they don’t see anything except President Bush. As a high ranking defense official this person has access to more detailed data on Iraq than anyone else on the planet, yet he or she has lost the ability to interpret this information rationally (if this person actually exists).

The biggest problem the U.S. has had in the Sunni provinces of Iraq is the extreme difficulty to set up effective police forces. In areas with active insurgents Sunnis are reluctant to volunteer so Shiites and Kurds fill in. As outsiders they are resented by the local population and they are not familiar with the people or territory they patrol. To add to the mix, Shiite policemen have been accused of sectarian violence against Sunnis. The premise that the complete subjugation of the Sunni is the only way to subdue the insurgency is laughable. This short-sided fix is a recipe for a permanent insurgency with no hope for reconciliation. Well… it’s actually against reconciliation! This is typical of the wisdom of those who think they have a better plan.

While Ricks is cautious and claims that he is only the messenger, I have seen him use this ploy before. He clearly sees this as a more desirable strategy than reconciliation because he said, “I think they’re both (the Pentagon and the ISG) looking at that kind of radical changes in our posture in Iraq to try to do one last best chance at getting this right”. As he finishes that sentence the screen ominously flashes a text message saying that, “Sunnis Comprise the Overwhelming Majority of the Muslim World”. Due to the fact that the ISG Report or any Pentagon Report that I’ve seen hasn’t released such a drastic recommendation like the scenario Ricks produced I am all the more curious about Ricks’ unidentified source.

Such activist journalism has ensured that the legacy of Zarqawi’s death is not fully appreciated by the general public. I do not make this point to prove that the U.S. has won the war, but that the death of Zarqawi was a legitimate U.S. victory.

This must be pointed out because there is an established pattern here. Every notable U.S. victory like the referendum on a new Iraqi Constitution, the election of Iraq’s first truly democratic government, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the killing of Zarqawi and military successes like Fallujah, Najaf and Ramadi are all undermined as much as possible. This is not only true about radical activists and the Democrats, but in the media as well.

On the flipside U.S. setbacks are exaggerated through fabrications and misinformation. Data is continually held out of context. Body counts are repeated over and over and artificial milestones are proclaimed as much as possible. Yet figures like these are virtually ignored…

Pentagon Press Brief May 31, 2007

(Operational Results in Iraq since January 15th, 2007)

29 Car/Truck bomb factories neutralized

6 IED Cells dismantled

17,946 Detained

3,184 Enemy killed (A figure that is higher than the total number of U.S. military personnel Killed in Action since March 2003. As of June 8, 2007 the total of U.S. soldiers KIA was at 2,864. The other 627 died of other causes.)

Over 1,700 High Value Targets (291 killed, 1,499 detained)

2,493 Caches found and cleared

The naysayers said that nothing good would come from Zarqawi’s death, but back in Ramadi Colonel Sean MacFarland knew otherwise. He said that, “When a tribe ‘flipped’, attacks on U.S. soldiers and Marines in that area dropped to zero almost immediately”. This was not possible when Zarqawi was alive.

Under Zarqawi’s Mujahideen Shura Council the Anbar Province was dominated by Al Qaeda. With his death their aura of invincibility was cracked and the tribes rebelled. The Abu Risha tribe was the first to reject Al Qaeda’s self proclaimed sovereignty over its self declared Islamic State. The resentment of these foreigners declaring their own country in Iraq was enough to jump start the dissent. Al Qaeda’s harsh reaction to this dissent led to outright warfare not only with the tribes, but with Sunni insurgent groups as well.

A slow trickle of infighting has led to full scale war. Sunni insurgent groups like Jaysh Mohammed, 1920 Revolution Brigade, Iraqi Armed Forces, The Al-Awda Party and The Islamic Army have turned against Al Qaeda in bitter fighting (a truce between The Islamic Army and Al Qaeda was recently declared, but it is unclear if it is holding.). Former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, tried his hand at getting Sunni insurgent groups to cooperate against Al Qaeda last year, but had no success. We have finally been able to win some cooperation now that Zarqawi is gone. Without his leadership Al Qaeda has made some major mistakes like the declaration of its own state and its inability to continue their brutal treatment of civilians, just as Zarqawi was able to do, without completely alienating a large block of their Sunni supporters.

Not long ago it was unthinkable to imagine Sunni insurgents joining forces with U.S. soldiers. Yet they have banding together to wrestle control of the Sunni neighborhood of Amiriyah in Baghdad. Fighters from the 1920 Revolution Brigade and the Islamic Army in Iraq have waged all out warfare against Al Qaeda. They are being supplied by the Americans and are actually patrolling side by side with them as well. Even just as important was the fact that at least two Imams who were previously against the American presence in Iraq have agreed to cooperate with U.S. forces. Such clerics are crucial for winning local support of the population and chipping away at the terrorists’ support base.

It has been called by some a bargain with the devil or a gamble that could backfire. I have even heard some say that the U.S. is just creating new militias when that is the last thing we need. However, if these ‘militiamen’ are currently organized into insurgent groups that kill Americans, isn’t it better to turn them into pro-American militias instead?

Throughout this post I have torn into the press coverage of Iraq, but I must admit that we need the media. It is a complex situation. On one hand their inaccuracies and biased reporting must be addressed. Then again it is a mistake to needlessly alienate the press. That’s why the use of the terms like MSM and Old Media has always disturbed me. Not that it is morally wrong or anything of the sort. It’s just that I feel that if you denounce the press you should use specific examples of why you feel that way. Showing such hostility doesn’t do any good since we can’t compete with the sensational headlines that Al Qaeda’s brutal terrorism creates.

Civilization could fall before such tactics unless we can win the battle of perception. We need to check our own perceptions first…

There are some who say that there are no moderate Muslims in these days of Jihad. They should look to President Bush’s trip to Albania. He went there looking for Muslim allies and got mobbed by adoring crowds. When the President called for the independence of Kosovo he got out the message that America is not against Muslims.

In Iraq our policy of reconciliation is finally showing some signs of success. The secular nature of their society is rejecting Al Qaeda’s fundamentalism. Christian America needs to embrace the idea of working with Muslim Kurds, Sunnis, Shiites, Turkmen and the neighboring Kuwaitis… If a working relationship is not nurtured with them then it will spell disaster for all of us.


Freedomnow said...

I will embed the hyperlinks later. I got no time.

This post took almost a month to compose...

Anonymous said...

Holy cow. I'll be back.

nanc said...

ah-oh - wrong blog.


Freedomnow said...

Ohhh are you lost little girl?

Dont cry, I'll show you the way...

WomanHonorThyself said...

wowza u dont post often hon but when u do its a humzinger!..what struck me was what I assume is a rhetorical question:
Why does Michael Berg continually forgive the terrorist who killed his son and yet refuse to forgive President Bush who did not commit the murder?
That my friend is the nature of the self hate has reason which reason does not know!
Brilliant post Freedom..dang youre smart!..Heh

Freedomnow said...

Cheers to ya Angel!

His son, Nick Berg, was actually a supporter of President Bush and he would be turning in his grave if he saw what his father did.

For Michael Berg to say that his son "saw the good in his captors until the last second of his life" (before they killed him) and then blame President Bush for Nick's death is just obscene.

Anonymous said...

The press isn't going to turn around. Left wing bloggers are daily dowsing the press and fueling their animosity w/tons of gasoline... e-r-r-r-r, ink spent on the subject via the internet, doing all they can to fan the anti-Bush flames and bring about a Pelosi 1,000 year reich.

But it is good to get an understanding about how Anbar got turned around and put the war back into perspective. I think your analysis is right on. And with that, the basis for accomodation and reconciliation within Iraq proper.

But I do think you're missing a bigger regional picture. The Sunni extremists like Zarqawi and Osama form a much larger movement that seeks to subjugate and "reform" the Shi'a. Shi'a assistance in the larger battle against the Islamic Brotherhood is vital, hence Moqtada MUST be somehow accomodated. I have no doubt, that barring assassination, he will one day be President of Iraq, if not a Persia re-united. There will be a tightrope we must learn to walk. Especially if we are to gain Shi'a assistance in Syria, Lebabon, and now, Gaza. Once the extremists in Iran get pushed out and/or fall under Iraqi influence, perhaps then a regional Sunni-Shi'a balance of powers can be established that will stabilize the region and lead to a re-opening of trade, along with a renewed regional peace and prosperity.

The Merry Widow said...

Hatred makes for bad politics. Our troops did a wonderful job of removing a dangerous and SNEAKY enemy. This man has been responsible for so much death and destruction, and yet the leftistas love him because our military did their job well!
This moral confusion is a stupendous example of the love of darkness that leftistas promote!
Their contradictions get a pass while the lsm obsesses over Paris Hilton and Anna Nichol Smith...majoring in the minors while the world goes to Hell.
I'm disgusted!

Excellent post as usual Fern, you do your homework. If only the lsm did half as well!

Freedomnow said...

Mr. Huge-O,

I cant deny that the press is in the Left's pocket, but look at our media compared to the English or French. There is some hope here! Anyways, the war will be won in the media. We have no choice but to challenge the Left for air supremacy!!!!!!!!!

On the other hand, I think you are a victim of the very same media. They love Sadr. He is so controversial that they can’t resist him.

The guy is an Islamist in a country with a strong secular tradition. Many Shiites would be horrified to have a cleric run for president. His support among the Shia is also eclipsed by the greater popularity of his bitter rival the SICI, which holds the majority of seats in the Shia political alliance. The two opponents have fought many pitched battles. You can also count out 20% of the vote right off the bat (the Sunnis) and I don’t think the Kurds would be too enthusiastic either (with another 20%).

His chances of winning a top political office are slim.

Now… Al Sistani is getting old and Sadr might make a play to be the religious leader of the Shia, but he is a relatively low level cleric. It will take a lot of maneuvering to pull that off.

In any case, Sadr will be a problem for years to come. Between him and Iran, they are the two good reasons (among many) why reliance solely on the Shia is a folly. Besides the fact that it is against our democratic ideals.

Regional stability would be nice, but there are some nasty neighbors. Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. It will be interesting…

Anonymous said...

...politics might make some strange bedfellows. Israel could even pick up an ally...

Freedomnow said...


I have to do my homework or you will ground me without suppa!

You really got me though. I must admit that I havent done my research on the Great Paris Hilton Jail Sentence. She is going to miss out on a couple of weeks worth of shopping! Wow!

Anonymous said...

Just think of the damage to the world economy...

Rogue said...

Michael Berg is such a sniveling assclown. His son was twice the man he is.

Freedomnow said...

I had a similar first reaction as well. However, when I reflect on the situation I realize that Michael Berg just needs some professional psychiatric help.

Anyone looking to criticize me would have a valid point if they said that I am not a mental health practitioner and I'm not qualified to diagnose Michael Berg's condition, but if you just read the things that man says it’s blatantly obvious that he has some serious problems. You don’t need a PhD to see it.

WomanHonorThyself said...

hiyaz Freedom..Rogue gave him the correct "diagnosis"!

Freedomnow said...

I'm not sure where he got his degree, but his grasp of medical terminology is stunning. The use of the phrase "sniveling assclown" is lightyears ahead of any healthcare professional studying the field of moonbat pathology. He is a true progressive.

The New England Journal of Medicine will be publishing their praise of his expertise shortly...

Rogue said...

Actually I DO have a degree in Psychology...though not an advanced one.

"Snivelling Assclown" was my military experience combining with my psychological diagnosis. I am working to have this included in the revision of the DSM IV.

Freedomnow said...

I base my research on reliable sources - not hearsay. However, Rogue's reputation as a leading expert in his field is common knowledge.

WHO has protested against the inclusion of the term Sniveling Assclown in the release of the upcoming revision of the DSM.

Yet many top Mental Health Professionals have pointed out WHO's conflict of interest in the matter since they are a UN agency.

nanc said...

good evening, fern.


Freedomnow said...

Hey I sent you an email...

WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya freeeeeeeeeeeedom!..back from my trip..ty for all the comments while I was gone! :)

Freedomnow said...


I hope you had fun.

Ducky's here said...

So he's gone. Big hairy deal.

His job was to start a civil war. He did his job well and we had no more idea than a bag of hammers what was happening.

Damn fool Americans figured that when he was killed it would all end.

The recent barbecue of several top Sunnis who were working with the Americans might give you a clue that this is all just a neverending story.

Freedomnow said...

Hey Ducky,

Thanks for dropping by and taking the opposite point of view. I welcome the mental exercise.

It is important to revisit this issue because shortly after Zarqawi’s death there was controversy over whether or not any good would come from it. Now that time has past it can be conclusively said that it has produced some positive developments.

The Sunnis whose deaths you ridicule have dared to strike back at the hatred of Al Qaeda and its allies. Even more importantly, despite whatever differences they have, the Sunnis have begun to cooperate with the Shiite-led government in large numbers.

It’s a shame that you would congratulate a butcher whose only success was killing unarmed civilians and support his aims to boot. You are free to do as you like. It’s just a shame…

WomanHonorThyself said...

have a super weekend Freeeeeed0m!..:)

nanc said...

where you is?

i'm missing you!

she'd better be purty...

American Crusader said...

He may have started a civil war as ducky claims, but it was inevitable that Shi'ite militias would seek revenge against their Sunni counterparts. Bush should have foreseen this outcome and committed more troops.
I used to state that George Herbert Walker Bush's biggest mistake was not to finish the job in Desert Storm.
Maybe he foresaw the inevitable violence.
Al Qaeda made the most of the opportunity.

Freedomnow said...

If we committed more troops from the beginning we would have had to close every single overseas military base outside of Iraq and Afghanistan by now because we dont have enough military personnel to maintain higher troop levels for over 4+ years. Already we have troops on their third and fourth deployments.


It is true that Bush Sr. foresaw the possibility of violence and didnt want to get involved. But by putting it off he ENSURED that the violence he feared would happen.

At the time we had UN support and could have easily drafted a resolution to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Instead Powell opted to inspire the Shiites to rebel and watch them get slaughtered, earning a great deal of animosity in the process. Al-Sadr's father was still alive at the time and his son Muqtada, the founder of the Mahdi Army was only a teenager.

Another important difference was that we had Syria on our side at the time!!!!!!! The rat lines from that country would have never been allowed by Assad Sr., who was an efficient dictator unlike his son. Instead the Syrian and Iraqi Baathist parties made amends during the embargo and now Syria is a safe haven for Iraqi Baathist High Value Targets and insurgents.

Lastly Saudi Arabia was also a willing ally back then. With the fear of Saddam fresh in their minds they would have enthusiastically supported his removal. During the 12 years of sanctions they became complacent and began to feel more threatened by a democratic Shiite government than Saddam.

So we threw away international backing and more importantly the support of Syria. We allowed the Shia to become alienated from us and a new blood thirsty tyrant to emerge (Muqtada Al-Sadr).

Bloodshed was inevitable ever since Saddam recklessly invaded Kuwait. He wasn’t going to go away and we earned an enemy who has shown to be the most ruthless murderer of modern times. Saddam had two brutal sons to continue his legacy and ensure that the conflict between us would last for another generation.

WomanHonorThyself said...

have a super weekend my friend..woohoo its Fridaaaaaaaaaaaaay! :)

Always On Watch said...

Take for instance the Doolittle Raid which was conducted on April 18th, 1942 at the low point of the American war effort against the Japanese Empire....Basically the raid was militarily insignificant because it failed to cause any lasting damage and was not immediately followed up by more air raids. However, it was a propaganda triumph...

We're losing the propaganda war in the present war. The Left is seeing to that.

Christian America needs to embrace the idea of working with Muslim Kurds, Sunnis, Shiites, Turkmen and the neighboring Kuwaitis… If a working relationship is not nurtured with them then it will spell disaster for all of us.

Point of disagreement there. We might have a temporary working relationship, but in the end, the old Arab proverb will apply: "It's me and my brother against my cousin. And when we finish my cousin off, it's me and my brother against each other." That proverb could easily be changed to this: "It's me and an enemy against a common enemy. And when we finish off that common enemy, it's me and my enemy against each other."

I also think that GWB's "alliance" with Kosovo is going to backfire. He'd have done better to embrace brave Muslim reformers who have collected fatwas--or at least have to hide for their lives, such as this man.

Call me pessimist if you like.

Freedomnow said...

Thats interesting. Nanc posted on her blog a quote from Winston Churchill...

“I like a man who grins when he fights.”

Before the U.S. entered WWII and while Russia was still an ally of Nazi Germany, Churchill stood like a rock even though France had surrendered and all European resistance to the Nazis crumbled.

Every totalitarian ideology is against us in this conflict; Socialist, Islamist and Neo-Nazi. Liberals are willing collaborators in this enterprise because they are banking on a Vietnam-effect to seize power. This is an alliance of convenience for all parties, who would likely fight each other as soon as their common aims are achieved.

In the meantime this enhances our enemies’ ability to spread their propaganda in the United States. But our situation is hardly as dire as England’s during its “darkest hour”.

You will find that the simple act of optimism will infuriate leftwing Internet trolls. When their mocking insults and glorification of terrorism are met with stoic dignity and the enthusiastic defense of our troops serving in Iraq, the weakness of their cause becomes apparent.

The results of Al Qaeda’s overconfidence are becoming clear in the Anbar province. We are winning allies among the Sunni for the first time. This is a major breakthrough.

While these allies could be opportunists, we should also become opportunists. The propaganda machine that has long mobilized against Israel has swung with full force against the U.S. Their allies in the U.N. have great influence. Yet the elections of Sarkozy and Merkel in the former citadels of Europe’s anti-American alliance point to another important shift in the conflict. The fact that such pro-American politicians could be elected to the highest political office of the countries most well known for their opposition to the war in Iraq was a huge relief to diplomatic pressure from those quarters.

So we must continue our strategy of winning more friends. Whether they are real allies or just a convenient temporary alliance. Our cause is just and our enemies are morally bankrupt.

We are still the arsenal of democracy that saved Churchill’s hide. All we have to do is weather the artificial media storm and win this war. To do so we have to smile as we fight and buy time for our Iraqi allies to gain strength.