August 16th, 2007

Carnage for Congressional consumption

The truck bombs that exploded two days ago in Iraq took a horrific toll. Whether the final tally of human life will be 250 or 500 (the exact figure may never be known), virtually all of the victims were Yazidis, a non-Muslim Kurdish sect who are an extreme minority in Iraq.

Al Qaeda, almost undoubtedly the perpetrator, knew full well what it was doing. As this Ralph Peters column entitled “Killing for Congress” points out (I had titled my post before I saw his; the similarity in titles is a coincidence), the terrorist group was well aware that its former targeting of fellow-Muslims in Iraq has caused it to become hated there.

So al Qaeda was faced with a dilemma: how to generate enough gore to deflate recent reports (see this) that the surge is going rather well, without causing the Iraqi population to turn even further against it. An inventive answer was found: attack a group too marginal and powerless to matter much in terms of backlash, and kill enough of them to cause maximum consternation in Congress and American public opinion. Thus, the Yazidis, the perfect victims.

General Petraeus is not the only one with a timetable; al Qaeda has one, too—although if Petraeus fails by September he may not get a second chance; al Qaeda will always have another chance despite some losses, because its task is far easier (“we have to get lucky all the time, but the terrorists only have to get lucky once”).

However, US success in Iraq by September would be more terrible news for al Qaeda than it would even be for Representative Boyda; in terms of its reputation, its manpower, and its ability to recruit fresh blood. And so the stakes are rather high.

Unfortunately, they are also rather easy. The slow gains of the surge are difficult to measure and difficult to see. A spectacular attack with a high death toll, such as the one on the Yazidis, simply means that al Qaeda has not been eradicated. But the perpetrators also know that for many people eager to condemn the surge and force the pullout, it’s a good way to justify throwing in the towel.

General Petraeus predicted as much:

“We’ve always said al-Qaeda would try to carry out sensational attacks this month in particular,” he added. “We’ve had some success against them in certain areas, but we’ve also said they do retain the capability to carry out these horrific and indiscriminate attacks such as the ones yesterday. There will be more of that, tragically.”

In September when the long-advertised evaluation of the surge takes place, we will see how Congress reacts to this and other events orchestrated by al Qaeda and/or the insurgents. There is little doubt in my mind, however, that the setting of such a deadline has given the terrorists a date to shoot for (grim puns intended) and a goal: creating enough destruction to give those who would withdraw even more ammunition to do so.

It’s not so difficult to load two trucks with bombs and detonate them in a couple of villages, especially if the victims are marginal to Iraqi society. It’s a win-win situation for the perpetrators. Unfortunately, Congress has (unintentionally, but stupidly) been part of the reason this is so.

In addition, there are commentators such as the BBC’s John Simpson, who writes, in a column discussing the Yazidi bombings, “…for Mr Bush, the main point of the surge is political, and it is mostly directed at American opinion.” Funny, I thought the main point was military, and it was directed at stabilizing Iraq. The fact that such an effort requires political support to succeed is a simple fact, but it is certainly not the “main point.”

Mr. Simpson blames Bush for having overriding political motivations. But curiously, Simpson managed to write his lengthy piece on the bombings without once pointing out the much more obvious twin statement, which would be this, “For the terrorists, the main point of the bombings is political, and it is mostly directed at American opinion.”

Not to mention BBC opinion.

25 Responses to “Carnage for Congressional consumption”

  1. gcotharn Says:

    Tell it, sistah.

    Weekly Standard’s Fred Kagan, who just returned from Iraq, in an interview with Hugh Hewitt:

    “I think [Iraq political progress is] going to be the nature of the debate in September, but I think it’s a false debate, because the truth of the matter is if you’re improving security, the logic of the surge all along was that political progress follows that. Well, if the surge is working, and the question is should we continue, it seems to me the answer is pretty clear, and I would hope that the Democratic leadership will come to that obvious conclusion as well. ”

    Link

  2. Capn Billy Says:

    gcotharn Says:
    “… I would hope that the Democratic leadership will come to that obvious conclusion as well. ”
    I can confidently say that this is a case of “hope over experience.” No amount of progress will stop those people from doing all they can to engineer a defeat of their country when said country has the ability to win. They have staked their political futures on it, and they mean to bring about that result. That is why they fit the definition of “traitors.”

  3. Gerard Says:

    Well, an Imperial Congress will require tribute from time to time.

  4. Tim P Says:

    “Killing for Congress” and I would add the left.

    Isn’t it curious how civilians are deliberately targeted indiscriminately to kill and maim the greatest number possible and there has never been any cry of outrage or anger at the fact that this is simply cold blooded and calculated murder for the sole purpose of influencing public opinion. American public opinion.

    Yet barrels of ink and trillions of pixels have been dedicated to the minor real and imagined wrongs by American forces. Too many, think that we are the enemy. American forces are condemned as murderers and worse by politicians vying for office. The surge is pronounced as a lost cause before it’s even begun in the US senate.

    Reasonable people take a more realistic view, but the scary truth is that there is too large a segment of American society that provides tacit support to America’s enemies and considers America, the west and its values to be a greater enemy than the barbaric murderers we fight.

    I suspect that many in congress, the MSM and on the left who would willfully sabotage the war effort against Islamist terrorists if they can gain short term political advantage. I may be wrong, but I doubt it.

  5. dave rogers Says:

    The attack on the Yazidi tribe was not in any way politically motivated…it was for revenge.

    No one in the blogs I’ve read thus far seem to remember Du’a Khalil Aswad, the 17 yr old girl brutally stoned to death by a frenzied mob of her own tribesmen. An estimated 1000 – 2000 Yazidi men witnessed/particpated/cheered her murder.

    Her crime was having an infatuation with a boy outside of their tribe/faith. The so-called “honor killing” made world news when graphic and disturbing videos of her stoning were made available by participant/witnesses on the web.

    We shouldn’t be so myopic and self centered as to think these killings have anything to do with us. It was an act of outrage against a community that willingly engaged in the destruction of innocence.

    No one should rejoice at the recent loss of life, yet, we can take consolation that justice has been served.

    These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
    A proud look,
    A lying tongue,
    Hands that shed innocent blood,
    A heart that devises wicked plans,
    Feet that are swift in running to evil,
    A false witness who speaks lies,
    And one who sows discord among brethren.

    Psa 6:16-19

  6. dave rogers Says:

    One additional note:

    I challenge anyone to view the videos of her execution (as I have – with the greatest regret) and not walk away with the same pain and outrage that has undoubtedly fueled recent events.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    This will always occur when one has a defensive stance concerning media operations. In the sense that the terrorists get to choose the time and place of attack, the defense against it must await the actual attack before folks like Petraeus can rebut it. That continually puts the good guys on the defensive. Which is not how you win wars. We’re not even talking about strategic offense and tactical defense, either.

    For the media and such personas, they keep their hands clean by having other people do their killing. So long as it benefits them, they won’t say or do much of anything to obstruct such efforts so long as such efforts give them what they want. In such cases, they wait for attacks, because they are neither perpetrating attacks (unless we’re talking Reuters and AP scams or RatherGates) nor are they waiting to defend against attacks by the Islamic Jihad.

    The US military, however, has to wait to defend against attacks all the time. That was one reason why they kept skipping around the towns.

  8. surely Says:

    News flash!

    Jenna Bush say’s “I will”.

    Question was: Would you get married just for the name-change?

  9. mary Says:

    The attack on the Yazidi tribe was not in any way politically motivated…it was for revenge.

    Congratulations, Dave Rogers. You are today’s winner of the ‘blame the victim’ award.

    Are you sure you don’t work for Time Magazine?

    I guess you didn’t read these reports:

    The bombings came as extremists staged other bold attacks by flattening a key bridge outside Baghdad and abducting five officials from an Oil Ministry compound in the capital in a raid using gunmen dressed as security officers.

    Nine US soldiers were also reported killed, including five in a helicopter crash.

    US officials believe extremists are attempting to regroup across northern Iraq after being driven from strongholds in and around Baghdad.

    The Islamic State in Iraq, an al Qaida front group, distributed leaflets a week ago warning residents near the scene of yesterday’s bombings that an attack was imminent because Yazidis are “anti-Islamic”.

    Al Qaeda and their Islamist state sponsors have been systematically cleansing the ‘Arab/Muslim’ world of insufficiently-Islamic elements, like Christians, Jews, Americans, Communists, Buddhists, Sudanese blacks and Yazidis for decades. This is just more of the same.

    And I have nothing against justice or even revenge, but for some reason I doubt that massive ethnic cleansing, deliberately targeting innocents and driving garbage trucks filled with explosives into crowded shopping malls will ever make the world a happier, more peaceful place. What al Qaeda does is not justice or revenge.

  10. Loyal Achates Says:

    So, I have some non-rhetorical questions:

    If al-Qaeda (assuming it was al-qaeda) or any violent iraqi group is able to pull off carnage of this scale with relative impunity, how effectively can our strategy be working?

    Assuming the surge ‘works’, what does that even mean? What is considered ‘success’ at this point in the war?

    If general Petraeus declares the we can begin drawing down US troops, how is that different from what the anti-war bloc is already advocating?

    The pro-war gang (with the neocons at the core) have ALWAYS insisted things were going well and that the situation was improving. Only now, with the surge plan, did they ever admit that serious errors were made. Why should we believe them now when they were always wrong before?

    I appreciate any serious responses.

  11. stumbley Says:

    L.A., if you’d asked a serious (instead of stupidly rhetorical) question, this response might be different. But how’s this: if a home-grown terrorist could drive a Ryder truck full of ammonia fertilizer in front of a Federal building in Oklahoma City, how well could you say our security was working?

    Pretty much anyone can pull a stunt like this pretty much anywhere at any time; that’s what makes terrorists terrorists. There is no predictability, rationality or real protection against someone who’s determined to die in that kind of attempt.

    And the answer is to kill as many of them as you can before they kill you, or make the prospect of their terror act unprofitable in some way—for instance, like NOT letting their carnage lead to surrender, but to more of them losing their lives for their fanatical cause.

    “A soldier’s duty is not to go out and die for his country; it’s to go out and make the other poor bastard die for his country.” — George S. Patton

  12. MartyH Says:

    LA-

    Look at where this attack took place, and at whom it was directed. It took place in about as remote a corner of Iraq as possible, on the Syrian border, and was directed against outcasts. Dafydd argues on his site Biz Lizards that this is actually a sign that we are winning because this is the best AQ could do. AQ couldn’t do this in Baghdad, or Ramadi, or Baqubah, or Tikrit. MAss casualty attacks like this will be pushed to the periphery of the country, and as AQ runs out of places to hide they will eventually cease.

    The difference between a military commander requesting a troop drawdown and and the anti-war bloc askign for troops to be withdrawn is the difference between victory and defeat and the difference between logic and emotionalism. Petraeus’ recommendations will be based on facts on the ground, his mission, and his available resources, and the likely consequences of the actions. The anti-war bloc wants us out regardless of the current situation or the ultimate consequences.

    All objective indications are that the surge is improving the military situation on the ground in Baghdad and the surrounding areas, which is its stated goal.

    This bombing has a lot in common with the Tet Offensive-a military defeat trying to be turned into a propaganda success.

  13. Trimegistus Says:

    There is another feature of this atrocity: it gives American lefties another opportunity to gloat over the dead. They like doing that, especially in public. I think it’s very considerate of Al-Qaeda to give their American supporters the chance to enjoy themselves this way.

  14. dave rogers Says:

    Mary, Mary quite contrary…

    I do not deny that the Iraqi Muslim community desires to rid their country of non-Muslims, but I don’t believe the latest rash of violence represents a substantial mobilization against the US. The only difference between the latest news and news of the previous months/years is the massive attack against the Yazidi tribe. US military men and women have been dying in relatively small numbers week by week for quite some time through out all Iraq. For our soldiers, this week has proven to be no different.

    Had the targets been only U.S. military installations producing massive casualties then “Tet” would be a reasonable definition. It simply doesn’t make strategic sense to attack a militarily inessential non-combative community during a foreign occupation in an attempt to hurt the occupying power’s ability to make war. (here’s a tip: you attack those you’re fighting against)

    It is unfortunate, but the death of hundreds of Yazidi’s in northern Iraq will be forgotten by mainstream media and, by extention, the American public by next week. If the enemy wishes to turn the hearts of Americans toward retreat any time soon then US soldiers will need to die by the hundreds-at-a-time on a regular basis (not Yazidi’s). A feat I don’t believe they are capable of accomplishing at this time.

    Implying that the individuals involved (al qaeda or no) were attempting to weaken American resolve is absurd. This attack was NOT politically or militarily motivated, it was religiously incited revenge against the Yazidi’s for the stoning death of Du’a Khalil Aswad…period.

  15. gcotharn Says:

    the Iraqi Army is gaining all the time: in leadership experience and knowledge, in capability, and in numbers.

    to say the surge “works” is to say the surge buys time for Iraqis to become stronger, and to become closer to protecting and governing themselves. It is to say the reign of Al Qaeda terror against civilians is greatly reduced – just as the Al Qaeda attacks against the American military have been greatly reduced for some time.

    Success looks like a country whose military and government institutions are getting stronger over time, and whose civil life is getting safer over time. Here is what winning looks like:

    the Iraqi people are standing and fighting against the murderous fascists of Al Qaeda. The Iraqi people are working with America to kill Al Qaeda, and to run Al Qaeda out of Iraq.

    Maybe the timelines are slow, and the casualties are greater than we hoped, yet this clearly equates to winning against the fascist forces of darkness and backwardness and murder. The rest of the peoples of the Middle East are watching it happen. They are taking note.

    Imagine, on 9/12/01, if we said: fascist forces of darkness are fighting for the soul of Islam. Yet, before the end of this decade, much of the Iraqi population will rise up, side by side with us, to fight back against those very fascist forces of darkness.

    This is what winning looks like in the real world.

  16. Trimegistus Says:

    Say, “Surely” — we’re still waiting for your Master Plan to withdraw from Iraq without a civilian bloodbath. Any time you’re ready!

  17. Lee Says:

    Fine, I’ll take it…

    “Surely” you jest.

  18. mary Says:

    Dave Rogers – It simply doesn’t make strategic sense to attack a militarily inessential non-combative community during a foreign occupation in an attempt to hurt the occupying power’s ability to make war. (here’s a tip: you attack those you’re fighting against)

    Tell al Qaeda that. They and their ilk have been targeting thousands (well, if we count the Sudan, millions) of noncombatants, using the tactic that most people call ‘terrorism’ That’s how they fight their wars.

    Using terrorism to weaken the enemy’s resolve has worked fairly well for them in most of Africa, the Middle East, Thailand and Europe. It’s how they’ve been fighting their wars for years (well, if we count the Palestinians, decades)

  19. Natalie Solent Says:

    “No one should rejoice at the recent loss of life, yet, we can take consolation that justice has been served. ”

    Let us assume for purposes of argument that you are correct in saying that the sole reason for this attack was revenge for the stoning. A murder is committed, hundreds of people are murdered in revenge and you say…

    “justice has been served”?

    … and follow it up with an excerpt from the Bible?

    Honour killings by Muslims of girls who form relationships outside that faith regularly happen in the UK, where I am posting from. They happen in the US, too. If, God forbid, some terrorists were to murder hundreds of Muslims in revenge would you still be consoled that “justice” had been served?

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    Natalie, some people cannot know what justice is because they have never wanted to serve it. Justice to them is whatever they like and whatever will benefit them.

  21. Ymarsakar Says:

    Implying that the individuals involved (al qaeda or no) were attempting to weaken American resolve is absurd. This attack was NOT politically or militarily motivated,

    You don’t know how to conduct psychological warfare operations. And yet you believe you can know or not know what an attack on civilians was designed to do to the defenseless American psyche?

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    Implying that the individuals involved (al qaeda or no) were attempting to weaken American resolve is absurd. This attack was NOT politically or militarily motivated,

    You don’t know how to conduct psychological warfare operations. And yet you believe you can know or not know what an attack on civilians was designed to do to the defenseless American psyche?

    We shouldn’t be so myopic and self centered as to think these killings have anything to do with us. It was an act of outrage against a community that willingly engaged in the destruction of innocence.

    Al Qaeda took revenge for honor killings, honor killings that were mandated by the Shariah Law AQ in Iraq has been killing and torturing to implement. Not politics you say.

    How can you defend the innocence when you don’t even know who they are?

  23. dave rogers Says:

    WOW!!

    you guys must think i’m pro al qaeda or anti US or some left-wing-nut…i’m not. i’m simply using common sense to determine the motive behind such a mass killing (ie. cause and effect).

    from this point foward try viewing the news you receive with truly objective eyes rather than forcing current events to fit your personal politics.

    i’m signing off….best wishes and good luck.

  24. Ymarsakar Says:

    Those that cannot answer the questions that spell the form of their existence, must indeed sign off, for they can do little else.

  25. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I may have said this before on this blog. Can’t recall. Said it somewhere.

    The left needs dead civilians to blame on the US. In the past, the terrs could fake the US or its allies into fighting around, over, and through civilians, thus providing the necessary dead innocents for the political use of the left in the west.

    Recently, due to increasingly specific ROE, more and more discriminating yet lethal weaponry, and command interest, it has become extremely difficult to fake the US into killing large numbers of civilians.

    So the terrs have decided to cut out the middle man and do the killing themselves. Seems to work just as well.

    The dems need more dead innocents and the terrs will provide them.

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