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Tilting at Windmills

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June 13, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

JORDAN AND ZARQAWI....The LA Times reports that Jordan was instrumental in helping us track down and kill Abu Musab Zarqawi:

Until November 2005, when Zarqawi operatives crossed the border into Jordan and bombed three hotels in Amman, killing 60 people, Jordan's intelligence service had barely operated in Iraq.

After the bombings, Iraq became, and remains, Amman's primary security worry....With the permission of Iraq's fledgling government, Jordanian operatives flooded the war-torn country, cultivating informants and working the periphery of the Zarqawi network to find ways into the organization, a Jordanian official and intelligence experts said.

The Jordanians may or may not be exaggerating their role. Who knows? But it goes to show that insurgencies have the same kinds of problems as counterinsurgencies: if you use too little force you can't maintain the fight, but if you use too much force you create new enemies where none existed before. It remains the case that the United States doesn't seem to have a clue how to win the war in Iraq, but at least it's still possible that al-Qaeda will help the insurgents lose it.

UPDATE: In related news, Marc Lynch reports that the Jordanian government has arrested four members of parliament who public mourned Zarqawi's death.

Kevin Drum 12:18 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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Comments

It is interesting that Jordan took little interest in the matter, notwithstanding that Zarqawi was a Jordanian citizen and Iraq is right next door, until the attacks in Amman.

Posted by: Peter on June 13, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

It remains the case that the United States doesn't seem to have a clue how to win the war in Iraq, but at least it's still possible that al-Qaeda will help the insurgents lose it.

If there were only one insurgency, that would be a possibility. But there are at least two.

Posted by: dj moonbat on June 13, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

There's also this:

"Jordanian authorities have launched an investigation into four politicians who have been accused of expressing sympathy for Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi."

Posted by: cyntax on June 13, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK
It remains the case that the United States doesn't seem to have a clue how to win the war in Iraq, but at least it's still possible that al-Qaeda will help the insurgents lose it.

al-Qaeda's interest is not in winning a war in Iraq, but having it continue and escalate, and expand to include more parties.

The various domestic insurgents in Iraq have very different goals.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 13, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

But it goes to show that insurgencies have the same kinds of problems as counterinsurgencies:

That is definitely among the smartest things you have ever written.

Posted by: republicrat on June 13, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

"al-Qaeda's interest is not in winning a war in Iraq, but having it continue and escalate, and expand to include more parties.
The various domestic insurgents in Iraq have very different goals."

QFT
Now, can someone explain this to the shrub!


Posted by: sheerahkahn on June 13, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

It is interesting that Jordan took little interest in the matter, notwithstanding that Zarqawi was a Jordanian citizen and Iraq is right next door, until the attacks in Amman.
Posted by: Peter on June 13, 2006 at 12:20 PM

It's also interesting that The United States of America took little interest in ______ until after _____.

You fill in the blanks with virtually any circumstances surrounding/preceeding an American intervention. Your lack of knowledge regarding FP is so obvious its painful.

Posted by: sunship on June 13, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

...al-Qaeda's interest is not in winning a war in Iraq...

But AQ's aims were certainly aided by the invasion.

On another note, I don't think KD said anything approaching that AQ wants to win. He didn't make it seem as though al-qaeda's aims are the same as the U.S.'s ("winning," whatever that means). Of course, if we accept your divination of AQ's goals, then the U.S. has certainly aided AQ by invading Iraq...I think Kevin was pointing out that AQ may provide help in the other direction too.

I'm not sure what you're responding to in Kevin's post...unless you're performing another one of your public services and trying to add new information to the debate.

Posted by: sunship on June 13, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK
I'm not sure what you're responding to in Kevin's post.

Inasmuch as I was responding to anything, it was the bit I was quoting, but it wasn't intended as a rebuttal (or agreement) so much as a related thought.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 13, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

a related thought.
Posted by: cmdicely on June 13, 2006 at 3:54 PM

Noted.

While we're posting in stream-of-consciousness...

The catastrophe that is the Iraq war and the strong, nearly unanimous opposition to it by MENA experts reminds me of something I saw when I accidentally turned on the TV at my mother's house. Normally I don't see most of what the "MSM" puts out there and calls news, but this was interesting. The show on some news channel was about Katrina, and to make a long story short, they provided handy list of "lessons learned" from the hurricane: Number one was "Listen to the experts." I had to scream for a while after that.

Posted by: sunship on June 13, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, just think of how effective we could have been if we had used 9/11 to organize a massive international law enforcement and espionage program against Al Qaida, instead launching invasions with all of the insuing collateral damage that pissed away our moral authority. There would no longer be an Al Qaida.

Instead, George "John Wayne" Bush legitimized Al Qaida as a serious threat to the US, converting a bunch of pissants in a third world country into heroic underdogs fighting the good fight for Islamist extremist everywhere.

It took 5 months for Jordanian spies to infiltrate Al Qaida in Iraq and find their leader.

Posted by: Mysticdog on June 13, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Mysticdog is right. Granted, Zarqawi was easier to catch, and granted, a terrorist by definition is harder to catch, but how exactly are we going about trying to capture OBL? Why did it take the Jordanians 5 months, and we haven't laid a finger on OBL in almost 5 years?

Posted by: Andy on June 13, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Why did it take the Jordanians 5 months, and we haven't laid a finger on OBL in almost 5 years?"

Well, if one wants to construct an explanation based on the evidence in hand the answer is that Bush doesn't really care if OBL is caught or not. OBL has provided Bush the pretext, albeit stretched beyond believability, to prosecute his pre-9/11 ambitions in the middle east. From that perspective, OBL is little more than a nuisance to be dealt with if he draws too much attention to himself.

From that, I can conclude that Bush doesn't take OBL seriously, and the only time he is being serious about him is during "rallying the troops speech." A convient boogey man to summon to keep everyone in line.
How long this can go on...who knows, I certainly don't, but I've come to understand that we, the American people that is, really do have an amazing capacity for self-deception.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on June 13, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Sheerahkahn
Well, if one wants to construct an explanation based on the evidence in hand the answer is that Bush doesn't really care if OBL is caught or not.

- Unabomber
- Eric Rudolph
- BTK Killer
- Everybody on the FBI's ten most wanted list, particularly the ones who have been on there for years
Etc., etc., etc.

These people all live in the US. And we struggle to catch them. Yet you expect we can cross half the globe and go back to medieval times and just snatch him like magic. You grossly underestimate the difficulty of hunting someone who wants to not be caught. Again, just ask Eric Rudolph. I guess we really didn't want him, since he eluded justice for as long as he did.

Posted by: Red state mike on June 13, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

...Yet you expect we can cross half the globe and go back to medieval times and just snatch him like magic....

Posted by: Red state mike on June 13, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Nice way to circumscribe the truth.

This administration has repeatedly avoided opportunities to "take out" targeted people when the opportunity presents. Most particularly in Tora Bora when US forces requested help to corner OBL and was ignored despite the UK offering 6000 troops from their comparatively meagre resources for same.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

This administration is opaque to its true objectives. Democracy in Iraq and limited US casualties are neither of them.

Posted by: notthere on June 13, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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