Friday, July 13, 2007

Al Qaeda Capitol Seized

Generally, when you take an enemy's capitol, you have seized the initiative and are winning the war. There are exceptions to this, of course: The USA had its capital burned and yet it achieved a stalemate in the War of 1812. Napoleon reached Moscow, and found it empty, the Russians having used scorched earth tactics. The key is to build on the success and expand on it.

In the Long War, I hardly thought we could take a capitol city of Al Qaeda. In fact, this has been used as an example of the difference between this war and others. Imagine my surprise when I read of a Hugh Hewitt interview of Michael Yon in which the self-proclaimed worldwide capitol of Al Qaeda was taken.

HH: Now Michael Yon, a lot of people don’t know the significance of Baquba. And so can you explain what peace in Baquba means for the larger war effort?

MY: Well, it’s huge, because al Qaeda had claimed Baquba as their capitol, their worldwide capitol. And you might recall one of the things that kind of upsets people about my reporting is I said Iraq was in a civil war, and I said that way back in February of 2005, and I continue to do so. But when I first wrote that, I was in Baquba, in 2005, and I spent two or three months here. And it was just total…you could see it, and you could see al Qaeda was trying to foment that civil war, because that’s their underlying strategy, is to do that. And so getting, fracturing al Qaeda here, and al Qaeda alienating so many Iraqis, it’s helping us to put a damper on the civil war.

This is a significant victory for the Coalition forces. Apparently, the Democratic party was busy talking about surrender while the military was planning to take control of the enemy capitol. As for Michael Yon's view of this attitude:

HH: Now yesterday, Harry Reid said on the floor of the Senate that the surge has failed. Do you think there’s any factual basis for making that assertion, Michael Yon, from what you’ve seen in Iraq over the last many months?

MY: He’s wrong, he’s wrong. It has absolutely not failed, and in fact, I’m finally willing to say it in public. I feel like it’s starting to succeed. And you know, I’m kind of stretching a little bit, because we haven’t gone too far into it, but I can see it from my travels around, for instance, in Anbar and out here in Diyala Province as well. Baghdad’s still very problematic. But there’s other areas where you can clearly see that there is a positive effect. And the first and foremost thing we have to do is knock down al Qaeda. And with them alienating so many Iraqis, I mean, they’re almost doing it for us. I mean, yeah, it takes military might to finally like wipe them out of Baquba, but it’s working. I mean, I sense that the surge is working. Reid is just wrong.

Read it all. Michael Yon notes that this is certainly not the end of combat. The leadership of Al Qaeda is trying to emulate (unconsciously, of course) the survival of the American leadership in 1812. However, the irhabists have lost a lot of popular support, and they may find they have few safe havens left. The reference to a massacre is from Yon's dispatch entitled Bless the Beasts and Children, whose title comes from a movie and its theme song. You read more about some of the controversial things that he has reported in this dispatch.

No comments: