Today, a new "blowback" thesis is in the works. The Washington Post, Time magazine and the Associated Press are just a few of the news outlets that have asserted the U.S. is arming the Sunnis in Iraq. This is simply not true, Gen. David Petraeus insisted in congressional testimony Monday. But it's no surprise that many people are leaping to that conclusion because the familiar "blowback" story line is the only plausible one for millions of people who've made up their minds that the war is, was and forever shall be hubristic folly.
Similarly, opponents of the war denounced Petraeus' testimony before he said a single word, not because they know the facts better than Petraeus - please - but because anything that doesn't fit the narrative of an ever-worsening quagmire must be a lie. MoveOn.org even seems willing to suggest that Petraeus' personal motives are perfidious.
Many war supporters have certainly forced reality to kneel before faith in recent years. But reality can't stay on bended knees for very long, so those running the Iraq project have had to change course and give facts the respect they deserve.
Many Democrats, too, have been grudgingly breaking from their base's otherworldly narrative of late, though they continue to insist that a "political solution" can be had in Iraq without a concomitant military one. Even the Sunni insurgents are coming to grips with the fact that al-Qaida doesn't have Iraq's best interests at heart.
But there is one group that is under no inclination to nod to reality: al-Qaida. The jihadis' mission, as always, is to create a new reality.
If the bin Laden of the late 1980s could convince himself that his motley crew delivered the death blow to the Evil Empire, leading to the formation of al-Qaida, one can only imagine what lesson he and the bin Ladens of tomorrow would take from America's defeat in Iraq. That's a story line we should all hope won't be written.