What we are fighting and how.
Threatwatch points to this and asks whether or not the United States still has the courage to engage the enemy--Islam in its virulent politicized cancerous form, as expressed by al-Qaeda and similar organizations--in his self-proclaimed "central front" of Iraq.
I argue we have no choice.
We have, over the past week, watched as a terror plot in the United Kingdom has unfolded, showing a diverse group of Muslims from across the Middle East who joined hands to attempt to execute a coordinated series of attacks. Only their technical ineptitude saved the UK from a horrific scene of hundreds of casualties. I assure you that only a damned fool with no explosives experience could fail to produce a working device of the type described in the reports. I work with explosives, and I could throw together something of that kind without any difficulty. The Middle East has lots of professionally trained terrorists--all it would have taken would have been one member of the Syrian intelligence apparat, or a Hamas or Hizbollah veteran, or an Iranian Quds Force member, or a single trained al-Qaeda operative advising the cell to have gotten the technical side of the attack right.
Should we fail in Iraq, Iraq will become a breeding ground for these terrorists who will not be satisfied with the home of the ancient Caliphate, but will wish to expand it to its historical limits and then beyond, eventually encompassing the world. I do not think this is really probable, but it is messier to allow this disease to take root before cleaning it up. Besides, when dealing with well-rooted totalitarian diseases of this kind, we find ourselves settling for answers which I find aesthetically unpleasant, if morally justified.
But, cry the nay-sayers, what about Iraq? Isn't there nothing there but chaos and destruction? Attacks are up, US deaths are up, blahblahblah.
Attacks on US forces are NOT an indicator here, folks. We are going after their strongholds. We are finding the enemy and engaging him. That is inherently dangerous. After all, it is a basic military principle that if you can see him, he can shoot you. But for you to understand and evaluate what is happening in Iraq, you have to understand the strategy behind the surge. It is the universal refrain of those opposed to winning the war in Iraq that we aren't going to get anywhere with "stay the course".
"Stay the course" was never intended as a plan of action on the ground in Iraq. Stay the course is what the United States as a whole, as a nation, as a people must do. We must remain firm in our resolve to defeat al-Qaeda, to destroy or marginalize extremist militias, and to create a secure environment for Iraq to work out Iraq's destiny. The folks on the ground have been innovating and experimenting like mad since 2003 to figure out what would work and what wouldn't as far as the operational and tactical stuff, as well as figuring out how to build power structures that would survive Iraq's often violent political culture. Along the way, we've written a spiffy new manual.
If you haven't read it, please do yourself the favor of shutting up about what the Army is or isn't doing on the ground and how well it works or doesn't work, and what they should or shouldn't do, especially if your only source of information is the mainstream media and statements by Democratic politicians. While you can argue about whether those folks meet the technical definition of treason, they certainly are incompetent, hostile, ignorant, apathetic or a combination of those.