Thursday, August 30, 2007

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

In Afghanistan, we're kicking Taliban ass:
More than a hundred Taliban insurgents and allies have been killed in a major battle with US-led troops in southern Afghanistan, according to the US military.

The fighting erupted after a convoy of Afghan and US coalition forces came under attack in Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar province and called in air support.

There were no civilian casualties reported but one Afghan security force member was killed and three foreign troops and three Afghan soldiers were wounded.
In Iraq, we've got Muqtada al-Sadr beaten:

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered a six-month suspension of activities by his Mahdi Army militia in order to reorganize the force, and it will no longer attack U.S. and coalition troops, aides said Wednesday.

The aide, Sheik Hazim al-Araji, said on Iraqi state television that the goal was to "rehabilitate" the organization, which has reportedly broken into factions, some of which the U.S. maintains are trained and supplied by Iran.

"We declare the freezing of the Mahdi Army without exception in order to rehabilitate it in a way that will safeguard its ideological image within a maximum period of six months starting from the day this statement is issued," al-Araji said, reading from a statement by al-Sadr.

In Najaf, al-Sadr's spokesman said the order also means the Mahdi Army will no longer launch attacks against U.S. and other coalition forces.

The common threads in these two theatres of the War Against Islamic Fundamentalism?

1) We're fighting the jihadis, not "negotiating" with them;

2) We're not fighting them half-assedly or piecemeal, but systematically flushing them out and forcing them to engage our forces rather than attacking defenseless civilians;

3) We've accomplished that by (1) and by the enemy's own beastiality, which has turned the Afghan and Iraqi populace against the terrorists in droves, and to our side precisely because we haven't run away but have stayed in the fight.

As a result, the Taliban in Afghanistan and al Qaeda and Iranian-backed Shiite militias like the Mahdi Army have been not just militarily shattered, but politically discredited as well. The people hate them, the good guys are all over them, and they have no place to turn to for succor.

Well, no place except....:
Iran, and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, have been actively involved in supporting Shia militias and encouraging sectarian violence in Iraq since the invasion of 2003-and Iranian planning and preparation for that effort began as early as 2002. The precise purposes of this support are unclear and may have changed over time. But one thing is very clear: Iran has consistently supplied weapons, its own advisors, and Lebanese Hezbollah advisors to multiple resistance groups in Iraq, both Sunni and Shia, and has supported these groups as they have targeted Sunni Arabs, Coalition forces, Iraqi Security Forces, and the Iraqi Government itself. Their infl uence runs from Kurdistan to Basrah, and Coalition sources report that by August 2007, Iranian-backed insurgents accounted for roughly half the attacks on Coalition forces, a dramatic change from previous periods that had seen the overwhelming majority of attacks coming from the Sunni Arab insurgency and al Qaeda.

The Coalition has stepped-up its efforts to combat Iranian intervention in Iraq in recent months both because the Iranians have increased their support for violence in Iraq since the start of the surge and because Coalition successes against al Qaeda in Iraq and the larger Sunni Arab insurgency have permitted the re-allocation of resources and effort against a problem that has plagued attempts to establish a stable government in Iraq from the outset. With those problems increasingly under control, Iranian intervention is the next major problem the Coalition must tackle.
Wow. I've only been saying that for the past four years. Welcome to the party, pals.

Evidently, despite what the President said yesterday, the White House has yet to arrive at the festivities:
Eight Iranians, including two diplomats, were released by U.S. forces Wednesday after being detained because unauthorized weapons were found in their cars, the U.S. military said. An adviser to the top U.S. general in Iraq called the detentions regrettable."
How applying the Bush Administration's "catch & release" immigration tactics to Iranian agents and irregulars in Iraq constitutes "confronting Tehran's murderous activities" is baffling to me. Ditto how "isolating the regime [and] imposing economic sanctions" will "confront" the danger of Iranian nuclear missiles.

We're winning on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq because we're actually fighting the terrorists. We can't secure that victory and move on to the war's endgame because we refuse to fight their prime sponsor and controller, the Iranian mullahgarchy, which is most definitely fighting us. Those are two fundamentally contradictory policies.

One way or the other, something will inevitably give. And no matter which way I look at it, I can't see that "giving" breaking in our favor.

Under two weeks until General Petraeus gives his long-anticipated interim report to Congress. Hard to believe something big isn't going to happen between now and then. Only question is how big, and where.

About the domestic political reaction, there's no question at all.