But that wasn’t quite his intention. He was attempting to declare a failure but accidentally got his facts right. On Sunday’s Meet the Press with Tim Russert, a debate waged between Senators Jim Webb and Lindsay Graham resulted in the following statement by Senator Webb.
And with respect to al-Qaeda, quite frankly, al-Qaeda didn’t come to Iraq to try to destroy a democracy. That’s a very, very flimsy democracy there. We all recognize that. Al-Qaeda came to Iraq because the United States was in Iraq, and the people in al-Anbar are not aligning themselves with the United States. It’s “The enemy of the enemy is my friend.” This hasn’t been the Iraqi military, the national military that’s been taking out al-Qaeda. It’s been a redneck justice. It’s been these sectarian groups out there who don’t like al-Qaeda. And if we leave, they still will not like al-Qaeda.
His statement is right on so many points, it’s more than a little heartening.
First, democracy or no, Al-Qaeda is in Iraq to attack the United States. Where would the Senator rather rather have them attack us? Second, he is correct that this is a case of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” But in terms of Al-Qaeda, that is called aligning themselves with the United States. We share a common enemy and are fighting it together. That is all “ally” means. What is he expecting? Conversions? Third, al-Anbar is a Sunni province. al-Qaeda is a Sunni organization. Sunnis have been their support base. And now a major part of that support base is turning against al-Qaeda. The biggest sign of success is when we no longer need to count on the military solutions but rather, the support base itself turns against the terrorists. Yet he is bemoaning the absence of a military component to this accomplishment. Senator Webb has done us the favor of highlighting some outstanding signs of imminent success although it was rather ambitious of him to spin them the way he did. It is also difficult to reconcile his belief that this revolt by the support base is “redneck justice” with the following statement taken from his own website.
Looking at these [Viet Nam] examples, you come to a conclusion about the use of force in this situation. In my opinion, we need to articulate clearly that we do not have a quarrel with the Muslim world. But the part of the Muslim world that considers itself at war with us must be on notice. Who are these people? They are the ones conducting terrorist activities and those training and providing logistical support to them. All those people, in my opinion, should be fair game. Over time, we should see the people who are conducting this international campaign of terrorism being cut away from their support base. Many good people were cut away from the support base of the South Vietnamese government. I think there’s a direct parallel.
Senator Webb is delivering good news suggesting that resistance to terrorism may soon be strong enough for us to reduce support levels. But he sounds greatly disappointed that this resistance is at the grass roots, and not a military accomplishment. Why do I suspect that if it was a military accomplishment, he would be lamenting the absence of grass roots support?