The evidence that al-Qaida has suffered a major strategic information defeat in Iraq continues to mount. StrategyPage.com noted on Oct. 27, 2005, that "the Moslem media is less and less willing to be an apologist for al-Qaida, at least when it comes to killing Moslem civilians" and that the Iraqi media in particular "really has it in for al-Qaida." On Oct. 1, 2006, StrategyPage.com argued that "dead Iraqis were killing al-Qaida. ... Westerners, unless they observe Arab media closely, and have contacts inside the Arab world, will not have noted this sharp drop in al-Qaida's fortunes."
Within the last three months, the "trend" (made of incremental successes) has become "fact."
Is this victory in Iraq? No. But it suggests we've won a major battle with potentially global significance. What the Pentagon calls "the governmental (political participation and structure building), information (intel, media and political perception) and economic (economic development, infrastructure creation) lines of operation" will ultimately secure victory in Iraq, and these operations will take another six to eight years of effort.
As for the "security line of operation" (military), the U.S.-Iraqi "postwar relationships" discussion indicates both are preparing for "strategic overwatch," where U.S. "quick reaction" forces are positioned to help Iraq deter external (e.g., Iranian) threats. Strategic overwatch may be a couple of years away, say mid-to-late 2009. Achieving that would constitute a limited victory.
Could these positive trends reverse? Yes. Al-Qaida and Saddamist enemies will continue to test the will of Free Iraq and the United States. Harry Reid and his faction could quit and declare defeat. But I doubt that they will -- I very much doubt they will. ***
In responding to my column of Nov. 13, Tom Ricks at The Washington Post asked me to note his Oct. 15, 2007, article on al-Qaida's information warfare defeat. And a fine report it is.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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