Monday, January 16, 2006


VI Day:
Hitchens Says
We've Won
In Iraq


Christopher Hitchens declares that we have won in Iraq:


The best news from Iraq this year would certainly be the long New York Times report of Jan. 12 on the murderous strife between local “insurgents” and al-Qaida infiltrators. This was also among the best news from last year.

For months, coalition soldiers in Iraq had been telling anyone who would care to listen that they had noticed a new phenomenon: heavy fire that they didn’t have to duck. On analysis, this turned out to be shooting or shelling apparently “incoming” from one “insurgent position” but actually directed at another one.…

The significance of this, and of numerous other similar accounts, is three-fold.

First, it means that the regular media caricature of Iraqi society is not even a parody. It is very common indeed to find mixed and intermarried families, and these loyalties and allegiances outweigh anything that can be mustered by a Jordanian jailbird who has bet everything on trying to ignite a sectarian war.

Second, it means in the not very long run that the so-called insurgency can be politically isolated and militarily defeated. It already operates within a minority of a minority and is largely directed by unpopular outsiders. Politically, it is the Khmer Rouge plus the Mafia—not the Viet Cong. And unlike the Khmer Rouge, it has no chance at all of taking the major cities. Nor, apart from the relatively weak Syrian regime, does it have a hinterland or a friendly neutral territory to use for resupply. And its zealots are now being killed by nationalist and secular, as well as clerical, guerrillas. (In Kurdistan, the Zarqawi riffraff don’t even try; there is a real people’s army there, and it has a short way with fascists. It also fights on the coalition side.)

In counterinsurgency terms, this is curtains for al-Qaida.

Which is my third point. If all goes even reasonably well, and if a combination of elections and prosperity is enough to draw more mainstream Sunnis into politics and away from Baathist nostalgia, it will have been proved that Bin-Ladenism can be taken on—and openly defeated—in a major Middle Eastern country. And not just defeated but discredited. Humiliated. Is there anyone who does not think that this is a historic prize worth having? Worth fighting for, in fact?


Let's hope he is correct.

It does indeed seem that we have won. I've been thinking that for several weeks now. However, this did not begin as a traditional war, therefore, I don't know that any of the signals of a traditional war coming to an end mean anything in this war.

I really don't know. All I can say is, we shall see.