Thursday, April 29, 2004

Was 911 a "pocket" of Terrorism? Ridiculous standards edition, Issue 1

Tex over at UnfairWitness blog discusses how the words "pockets of resistance" are being used to describe Fallujah's turmoil while the rest of Fallujah is described as secure.

This "pockets" standard is ridiculous. By that standard 911 was a "pocket of terrorism" because it only affected Manhatten and the rest of the United States could function normally - 96.5% of its population was "unaffected" if you figure 10 million New Yorkers for 280 million Americans. However we all know that the affect was profound.

We can pretty much assume that if one corner of Fallujah is being traumatized, then all of Fallujah is being shocked. We can also pretty much extend that so that if Fallujah suffers, then to a large extent all the Sunni's "feel it".

Just as the hearts of all the Shiites will cry out everytime we blast something in Najaf. Without a native Iraqi response, because of the failure of Rumsfeld to succeed in his Iraqi training program, we may be stuck without any good options. It's also true that we don't have any "dirty tricks" we can pull to get us out of this corner either, because we don't have a functioning wing of Operations directorate in the CIA according to Tenet.

This "pockets" standard is ridiculous. Just as it is ridiculous to assume our actions in Israel won't have a provocative affect elsewhere, or that our failure in Iraq won't have an affect elsewhere.

Think about it, we can't logically on one hand claim that liberating and democratizing Iraq will have a "dominoe" effect helping to modernize the stuffy political regimes of the region without also acknowleging that a failure there will have a massively negative repurcussion. The analogy used is Reagan's withdrawal from Lebanon. However this will be ten times worse. It will be a black-eye like Vietnam was for decades.

Similarly, despite attempts to deny otherwise clearly nakedly one-sided support of Israel is going to be radicalizing in the region.

Dickey describes all of this in the bubbling mood in "Points of No Return".

Among students of the region—in government and in think tanks, in the United States and around the world—there’s a rapidly accumulating sense of doom, and I use the word advisedly...

In the meantime, all over the map you can hear the tick-tock of Al-Qaeda-style terrorism counting down to catastrophe. In Britain an attempt to build a chemical bomb was disrupted, then a plot to stage suicide attacks and provoke mass panic in a soccer stadium was stopped. In Jordan, terrorists plotting to set off an enormous toxic explosion were rounded up. Saudi Arabia stopped several bombings earlier in the month, but missed the terrorists who blew up one of the internal security service’s administrative buildings. In Syria, just last night, running gun battles echoed along the streets of embassy row in Damascus. In Thailand, meanwhile, more than 110 people died in what looked like an abortive uprising by Muslim zealots. “The air is too hot,” says Justo Lacunza-Balda, who runs the Vatican’s well-informed Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies. “I have this impression that something very big is being cooked.”
[emphasis added]

The best part is the story at the end about the servant, his master, and the Appointment at Samarra.

Whatever you think, clearly "pockets" have no business being in the language of government pronouncements here. Government has to put the best face on things. That's not lying, that's it's job. To reassure and calm people for hard tasks. However, calling the fighting in Fallujah "pockets" is not putting the best face on things, it's gone over the edge into denial.

This is pretty clear from Billmon's exposition of how fast Iraq is falling apart and how quickly people are picking up on it. It may seem like a long time, but remember it took well over a decade for Vietnam to completely fall apart, and it's taking Iraq just over a year.

When nearly half the country says that invading Iraq may have been a mistake, you can't rally them to help fix the problem by talking about "pockets". They want the President to level to them, tell them how it really is, and how to fix it.


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