When a fact becomes self-evident enough, even the New York Times can’t lie about it. The premium al-Qaeda places on driving America out of Iraq has now entered those ranks.
NYT reporter Michael R. Gordon wrote that initially military officials thought Shi’ite violence would pose the greatest threat to American soldiers taking part in the president’s surge, but:
[D]uring the early weeks of the operation, deadly bombings by Sunni Arab militants have emerged as a greater danger. In particular, the threat posed by the Sunni group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia was underscored when American troops seized a laptop computer from a senior operative in the group who was killed in late December.
Information from captured materials indicates that the group’s leadership sees “the sectarian war for Baghdad as the necessary main focus of its operations,” according to an intelligence report that was described by American officials. (Emphasis added.)
The gold standard of journalistic liberalism has authenticated President Bush. For years, President Bush has stated Iraq is “the central front in the War on Terror,” while his opponents – including all the leading Democratic presidential candidates (and all the dark horse candidates, for that matter) – denounced the war they once authorized as a “distraction” and “diversion” from the real enemy: al-Qaeda. That lie has been put to rest.
The Times also notes the terrorists, invigorated by previous triumphs in Beirut, Afghanistan (over the Soviets), and Somalia, plot feverishly to pull off another victory over a superpower in the Arab world. In two paragraphs, the mainstream media have proven:
1. Al-Qaeda is America’s most pressing enemy in Iraq;
2. Al-Qaeda is channeling its energy into defeating the United States in Iraq; and
3. Thanks to the Iraq war, Zawahiri’s footsoldiers are focusing on Baghdad and not New York, Washington, or rural Pennsylvania.
Naturally, the “newspaper of record” conveniently hid all this verification under the bland headline, “Sunni Militants Disrupt Plan to Calm Baghdad.”
Some leftists have portrayed “Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia” (nee “Al-Qaeda in Iraq”) as an indigenous, “anti-imperialist” force. However, Gordon notes, “some senior commanders are foreigners, including Abu Ayyub al-Masri, an Egyptian who became the leader of the organization last year after the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist who founded the organization.” Not to mention that Ayman al-Zawahiri fellow who keeps dispatching missives to Iraq from an undisclosed location.
Gordon relays what students of war and human nature have long known: implacable foes respond only to the threat of force. That was the genius in President Bush’s much-maligned “surge” strategy – and it’s already reaping benefits. Writes Gordon, “When faced with American combat power, the Sunni militants tend to disperse, hoping to fight another day, American commanders say.”
Meanwhile, the Shi’ite majority, until so recently the focus of anti-American activity, have begun cooperating with the United States. Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, who oversees events on the ground in Iraq, says simply, “The Shia have gone to ground for the most part.” Indeed, anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is believed to have fled into Iran, and his Mahdi Army is collaborating with U.S. forces – on his orders:
“[O]ur leader has ordered us to keep quiet,” explained Ayad al-Khaby, a local official in Sadr's organization. “This is in order for the security plan to succeed.”
Publicly, Sadr has criticized the U.S. presence inside his stronghold. He is a fierce nationalist who has long demanded a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and his authority derives in large part from his opposition to the occupation. But privately, he has ordered his militiamen to lie low no matter how much they are provoked by U.S. forces, according to interviews with Sadr representatives and fighters.
The commander in charge of Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil, said al-Sadr’s assistance “certainly has been a factor in the way we've been able to go into Sadr City, this early, this quickly.” The day after this public outing, Al-Sadr denied any cooperation but, critically, he called for no militia violence against the United States.
And the reduction in violence – both sectarian and anti-American – is the greatest success of the surge thus far. Within two weeks of the initial phase of the troop deployment, civilian deaths in Iraq hit their lowest point in four months. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell reports in the one month since the surge began, “there has been an over 50 percent reduction in murders and executions,” and the number of civilian deaths declined from 1,440 to 265. The surge has resulted in a dramatic reduction of Shi’ite death squads, the arrest of 700 Sadr-aligned guerrilla leaders, and the detention of more than a thousand more.
As if to anticipate the positive press this would generate, The Washington Post ran a front-page story on Bush’s alleged history of lying with numbers: “Iraq War’s Statistics Prove Fleeting.”
The combined weight of the Times revelations – the role and goal of al-Qaeda, the success of the military strategy the Left has virulently opposed – will have precious little effect on modern leftists. They are capable of claiming al-Qaeda is not even present in Iraq in one sentence, then snapping, “President Bush brought al-Qaeda into Iraq!” in the next, without an apparent sense of irony.
In that vein, this weekend also featured a mass political rally against the U.S. surge – a demonstration at which ideological comrades called for a “peaceful uprising” and “demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops,” a rally at which its featured speaker challenged the angry crowd never to cease “standing and demonstrating that way.” He intoned, “Raise your voices, all of you, loving your brothers and united against your enemy, saying as your leader taught you, 'No America, no Israel, no, no Satan.’”
The speaker, of course, was Muqtada al-Sadr. However, as the media have reported, he currently more cooperative with U.S. military objectives in Iraq than the political Left.