Winning in Iraq - and losing at home

There are a number of methods of judging how a war is progressing. The American media knows none of them. Based on mainstream media reporting, many Americans, including some in elective office, are coming to the wrong—headed conclusion that we are losing our war in Iraq. The facts say otherwise.

A case in point: since the rise of the insurgency as a serious threat in late 2003, the Coalition has captured or killed dozens of members of the jihadist command cadre, ranging from local cell leaders to the deputy of (and designated successor to) Abu Musab al—Zarqawi.

'Decapitation' is the term of art. It is one of the few tactics effective against an insurgency, as the Israelis discovered when they employed it to crack the Palestinian terrorists directing the Intifada. The Coalition effort has not been quite as successful... yet. But it has had a definite, and growing, effect on the course of the war.

What follows is a partial list of Islamofascist leaders killed or captured in Iraq over the past year (and a few weeks), including circumstances, location, and other relevant information:

9/23/04 — Sheik Abu Anas al—Shami, (scroll down) advisor to Zarqawi and spiritual leader of the terrorist group Monotheism and Jihad (Tawhid Al—Jihad), killed in Baghdad by U.S. airstrike.

11/09/04 — Abu Waleed Saudi, senior military aide to Zarqawi, killed in fighting west of Fallujah.

11/25/04 — The Iraqi government announces the capture of Abu Said, a major figure in Zarqawi's Mosul network. Information came from local residents.

12/8/04 — U.S. Marines pick up Saleh Arugayan Khalil, AKA Abu Obaida, a cell leader in Ramadi. Tip came from locals.
 
12/12/04 —— Bassem Mohammad Hazim, AKA Abu Khattab, arrested by Marines in Ramadi. Along with Khalil, Hazim was involved in kidnaping and killing11 Iraqi National Guardsmen along with bombings and smuggling terrorists into Iraq. Once again, locals aided in the arrest.

12/14/04 — Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announces the shooting death of Hassan Ibrahim Farhan Zyda,  (scroll down) a Zarqawi commander involved in 'beheading innocents'. Two of his deputies arrested.

12/22/04 — Abdul Aziz Sa'dun Ahmed Hamduni, (scroll down)
AKA Abu Ahmed, senior deputy to Zarqawi commander Abu Talha, arrested in Mosul. 'Abu Ahmed admitted to receiving money and weapons from Abu Talha as well as coordinating and conducting terrorist attacks in Mosul.'

12/23/04 — Abu Marwan, senior commander responsible for conducting operations, purchasing weapons for Abu Talha's terrorist group, and training terrorist cells, arrested in Mosul. Tipoff came from local residents.

12/30/04 — Fadil Hussain Ahmed al—Kurdi, AKA Ridha, captured along with two other terrorists. Ridha was responsible for facilitating communications between terror networks as well as coordinating terrorist movements. Brother of Umar Baziyani, a Zarqawi lieutenant captured in May.

1/15/05 — Sami Mohammed Ali Said al—Jaaf, AKA Abu Omar al—Kurdi, arrested in Baghdad with two others.  Responsible for 32 car
bombings, among them the August 2003 bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. "The most lethal of Abu Musab al—Zarqawi's lieutenants." 

1/26/05 — Ali Mohammad, AKA Abdul Jalil, a leader of the Tawhid Al—Jihad group, killed during a Marine raid in Haditha, west of Baghdad.

2/20/05 — Taleb Mikhlef al—Dulaimi, AKA Abu Qutaybah, Zarqawi's logistical planner,  "responsible for determining who, when and how terrorist leaders would meet with al—Zarqawi,"  caught in a raid in the town of Anah, 150 miles west of Baghdad. Iraqi forces also captured Ahmad Khalid al—Rawi, who arranged meetings for Zarqawi and occasionally worked as his driver.

3/09/05 ——Taifor Abdulsattar Malallah, al—Qaida emir for Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, arrested by Iraqi security forces. Bakir al—Hiraibi, a close aide, and five other cell members also bagged.

4/02/05 — Iraqi and U.S. forces arrest Mullah Mahdi, AKA Mehdi Moussa, and five other suspects (Mahdi's brother, three Iraqis and a Syrian) in
Mosul.

4/26/05 — Ghassan Mohammed Amin Hussein al—Rawi arrested during a raid in Rawa, 200 miles west of Baghdad. Facilitated Zarqawi's movements and infiltrated foreigners into Iraq. He also stole cars to convert into bombs and kidnapped civilians for ransom. Two of his lieutenants also arrested.

5/2/05 — Lieutenant Colonel Nabil Badri al—Nasseri surrenders to the Iraqi army in Tikrit. Nasseri was a member of Saddam's tribe and a former
National Guardsman responsible for attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces in Salaheddin province north of Baghdad.

5/5/05 — Ammar al—Zubaydi, AKA Abu Abbas, captured by Iraqi forces in Baghdad. Responsible for many suicide car bombings and an attack on the Abu Ghraib prison in April. Documents seized at al—Zubaydi's home indicated that he was preparing to assassinate a senior government official.

5/26/05 (announced) —— Iraqi forces arrest Mullah Kamel al—Aswadi, the most—wanted terrorist in north—central Iraq, trying to bribe his way through a checkpoint in the town of Balad. In his car was found a global positioning system, multiple ID papers, a mortar scope, and U.S. currency. Al—Aswadi was involved in funding terror cells, terrorist training, and manufacturing car and roadside bombs. 

6/4/05 —  Umar Baziyani, Zarqawi's number four and emir of Baghdad, captured by U.S. troops.  He was sought in connection with a series of attacks on Coalition forces. Baziyani "has been helpful" in providing intelligence on three Zarqawi—network safe houses in Fallujah.

6/7/05 —— Jassim Hazan Hamadi al—Bazi, AKA Abu Ahmed, arrested in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. Al—Bazi built and sold (for about $18,000 each) remote—controlled bombs used in roadside attacks. Also an active dealer in missiles, guns, mortars and hand grenades.

6/14/05 — Mohammed Khalif Shaiker (or Sharkawa), AKA Abu Talha, surrenders to U.S. and Iraqi troops in a quiet neighborhood of Mosul. 'One of
Abu Musab al—Zarqawi's most trusted operations agents in Iraq'. Information from Mullah Mahdi led to Shaiker, along with a tip from a Mosul resident. Shaiker carried out at least 50 car bombings and 150 beheadings and assassinations.

6/15/05 — (announced) Abed Dawood Suleiman and his son, former army captain Raed Abed Dawood, picked up in a morning raid on their house in Khalidiya, west of Baghdad. Dawood was chief of Mohammed's army, an armed group linked with Zarqawi.

6/26/05 —— (announced) Khalid Suleiman Darwish, better known as Abu Alghadiya, killed in the town of Qaim near the Syrian border. A Syrian
dentist, Darwish was number two in Iraq's Al— Qaeda network and tipped to succeed Zarqawi. He cofounded the 'Syria Warriors' group with Zarqawi in Afghanistan in1999, which later evolved into Monotheism and Jihad. 

7/02/05 — Abdul Hamid Mustafa al—Douri, an aide to Zarqawi and head of the Salaheddin province Al—Qaida branch, captured in a joint Iraqi police and army operation in a village in northern Tikrit. A relative to Saddam Hussein's aide Izzat Ibrahim, al—Douri was behind a number of car bombings.

8/14/05 —— Abu Zubair, AKA Muhammad Salah Sultan, shot dead in Mosul in an ambush by Iraqi forces. Known to be involved in several attacks, including one on a police station in Mosul which killed five policemen. Zubair was wearing a bomb belt filled with metal pellets when he was killed. 

9/25/05 — Abdullah Abu Azzam, Zarqawi's chief deputy, shot during a house raid in Baghdad. Azzam was emir of Baghdad 'responsible for the recent upsurge in violent attacks in the city since April 2005". A tip from an Iraqi civilian led to the raid.

10/16/05 —— (announced) Abu Dijana, a top Al—Qaida propagandist, captured shortly before the constitutional vote. Dijana was webmaster of the site "al—Qaida in Iraq,", which featured graphic videos of suicide bombings and communications between Al—Qaida fighters.

10/19/05 — Yasir Sabhawi Ibrahim, son of Saddam's half—brother Sabhawi Ibrahim Hasan al—Tikriti, arrested in a Baghdad apartment several days after Syrian authorities forced him to return to Iraq. Was a top financier of the insurgency.

10/15/05 —— Sa'ad Ali Firas Muntar al—Dulaimi, AKA Abu Abdullah, killed by U.S. troops along with 11 other jihadists in Ramadi. Responsible for executing terrorist attacks on Iraqi and Coalition forces in Ramadi and Fallujah.

10/25/05 —— Monem Shakem al—Qubaisi, chief terrorist financier for Fallujah, arrested by Iraqi troops.

10/27/05 — Nashwan Mijhim Muslet, (scroll down) Al—Qaida cell leader, killed in Mosul along with his chief of security, Nahi Achmed Obeid Sultan. Muslet was responsible for several filmed beheadings.

10/27/05 — Abu Du'a, Al—Qaida terrorist smuggler operating on the Syrian border, killed in an airstrike near Qiam.

10/31/05 —— Abu Umar and Abu Hamza, regional Al—Qaida Iraq leaders operating in the Husaybah area, killed by Coalition airstrikes. Umar specialized in bomb attacks and smuggling jihadists, while Hamza commanded several Al—Qaida cells.

11/05/05 — Ramadi terrorist leader Majid Adnon Swedowi captured by U.S. troops.

That's thirty—nine, minus assorted hangers—on. There are others — an unnamed known associate of Zarqawi killed in a strike on a Fallujah safe house last October, another unidentified figure, holding U.S./Jordanian citizenship, captured in Baghdad in 2004. And there are no doubt more we won't learn about until all the intelligence value is wrung out of them. 

A small number, you say?  Think of what we'd be hearing if forty American unit
commanders had been killed or captured in the past year.

In any case, an insurgency is not primarily a war of numbers. Guerilla warfare, as the U.S. never quite learned in Vietnam, is a war of impressions and images. Which side possesses true  freedom of action, which is gaining the allegiance of the people, which has — and more important, displays that it has — the overall initiative? Which is the strong horse and which the weak? — to quote one noted authority.

In such a conflict, the insurgent must come across as invulnerable and omnipotent — a ghostly and untrackable force that lives in darkness, strikes at times of its choosing, commands complete loyalty and instills abject fear. Does this really sound like Al—Qaida in Iraq?

Consider the number of incidents in which a jihadi was turned in by Iraqi civilians. We're told that Iraqis are fearful of the terrorists, indifferent or hostile to the Coalition and the government. The record here suggests otherwise. Of course, many are no doubt acting in hope of cash rewards, but that changes nothing.

How many Mafia capos were ever turned in for cash in Sicily? Or Chicago, for that matter? The Iraqi people aren't afraid of this crew. What earthly use are terrorists who can't generate terror?

Consider also the number of arrests carried out by Iraqi personnel, both police and military. Iraqi forces have been criticized for their performance in the past, with some justification. But here they are, going out on the toughest kind of job — taking down valuable jihadi personnel on their own ground — and doing it well.

Finally, consider the enemy themselves. A military force that is losing its cadre and seeing it replaced by inexperienced, less capable, and considerably more cautious commanders, will exhibit certain traits. It will slow down. It will lose its boldness. It will settle for operations that limit exposure to counterattack.

Which is exactly what we're now seeing in Iraq. It has been a long, long time since any terrorists have attempted an attack in force against Coalition or Iraqi units. The last such incident I can recall is the failed assault on the Abu Ghraib prison last April. Even the ambush, the tactic nonpareil of the insurgent, is seldom seen these days.

Media predictions for the October 15 constitutional vote envisioned a massacre little short of the Apocalypse. In fact, only 89 attacks occurred across the entire country, as compared to nearly 350 during the January parliamentary vote. The jihadists seem to be limiting themselves to slaughtering schoolteachers, executing kidnapped men, and setting off the trusty car bomb, tactics which serve only to outrage and infuriate the Iraqi public.

The botched Palestine Hotel attack, the Amman bombing, and last week's strange threat to 'make the earth tremble' if the Coalition's Husaybah operations continued, merely underline this state of affairs. Today's botched hotel attack and bloody attack on a Shiite mosque are wining no friends from among the Iraqis. They're transparent desperation measures, carried out to distract attention from obvious weakness.

How could the media have missed this story? (Because miss it they have — the sole coverage I was able to find consisted of a USA Today piece which got most of the details wrong — mistaken dates, aliases confused with real names, etc.) The same way they've missed the rise of the Iraqi army, evidence of Syrian and Iranian complicity, the attitudes of the Iraqi public, and on and on. It simply doesn't fit the narrative to which they have committed themselves.

Reporters are not indifferent, nor do they support the Islamofascists (as some of the more paranoid conservative outlets have suggested). But they're also no better than they have to be, and when a story appears that breaks the paradigm, rather than rock the boat, they simply drop it. And a story that goes unreported, as we all know, is a story that never happened.

The narrative is called 'Iraq as Vietnam'. Its outlines are too familiar to repeat. But the point to make is that it's potentially fatal. A few years ago, historian Lewis Sorley published A Better War, a history covering the final years of the U.S. effort in Vietnam, in which he argued that by 1970 the U.S. had effectively defeated both the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese, only to see the victory thrown away precisely because the public at large was convinced that the war had been lost, and that no power on the earth could ever turn it around.

We're facing the same thing in Iraq. The essence of the Vietnam myth is 'no progress' — grueling combat for endless years with rising casualties and nothing to show for it. Those forty emirs are a potent argument against the Vietnam paradigm. As are the vote results, the recent Sunni actions against Zarqawi's forces, the rising tide of Iraqi fighting men. But if it's happening without a context, it may as well not be happening at all. What we require is a counter—narrative, one that encompasses not only the Islamofascists being ground into hamburger, but the potent role of Iraqi troops, and the choices being made by the Iraqi people.

Every car bomb, every IED, every assassination is a weapon aimed at American public opinion. The same must be made true of Coalition victories. Success is not success if it remains unacknowledged. Progress in Iraq must be brought out of the shadows. Until it is, we're not quite winning, no matter how many emirs we account for.

Our forces in Iraq have performed magnificently, but they cannot win the war at home. That is up to us. Too many of us are content to passively support the troops, and allow the media to sap national morale with a prefabricated story ignoring the facts. We cannot afford to be AWOL. It is time to engage in the combat of words and ideas on the home front. Our victorious  forces deserve no less.

There are a number of methods of judging how a war is progressing. The American media knows none of them. Based on mainstream media reporting, many Americans, including some in elective office, are coming to the wrong—headed conclusion that we are losing our war in Iraq. The facts say otherwise.

A case in point: since the rise of the insurgency as a serious threat in late 2003, the Coalition has captured or killed dozens of members of the jihadist command cadre, ranging from local cell leaders to the deputy of (and designated successor to) Abu Musab al—Zarqawi.

'Decapitation' is the term of art. It is one of the few tactics effective against an insurgency, as the Israelis discovered when they employed it to crack the Palestinian terrorists directing the Intifada. The Coalition effort has not been quite as successful... yet. But it has had a definite, and growing, effect on the course of the war.

What follows is a partial list of Islamofascist leaders killed or captured in Iraq over the past year (and a few weeks), including circumstances, location, and other relevant information:

9/23/04 — Sheik Abu Anas al—Shami, (scroll down) advisor to Zarqawi and spiritual leader of the terrorist group Monotheism and Jihad (Tawhid Al—Jihad), killed in Baghdad by U.S. airstrike.

11/09/04 — Abu Waleed Saudi, senior military aide to Zarqawi, killed in fighting west of Fallujah.

11/25/04 — The Iraqi government announces the capture of Abu Said, a major figure in Zarqawi's Mosul network. Information came from local residents.

12/8/04 — U.S. Marines pick up Saleh Arugayan Khalil, AKA Abu Obaida, a cell leader in Ramadi. Tip came from locals.
 
12/12/04 —— Bassem Mohammad Hazim, AKA Abu Khattab, arrested by Marines in Ramadi. Along with Khalil, Hazim was involved in kidnaping and killing11 Iraqi National Guardsmen along with bombings and smuggling terrorists into Iraq. Once again, locals aided in the arrest.

12/14/04 — Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announces the shooting death of Hassan Ibrahim Farhan Zyda,  (scroll down) a Zarqawi commander involved in 'beheading innocents'. Two of his deputies arrested.

12/22/04 — Abdul Aziz Sa'dun Ahmed Hamduni, (scroll down)
AKA Abu Ahmed, senior deputy to Zarqawi commander Abu Talha, arrested in Mosul. 'Abu Ahmed admitted to receiving money and weapons from Abu Talha as well as coordinating and conducting terrorist attacks in Mosul.'

12/23/04 — Abu Marwan, senior commander responsible for conducting operations, purchasing weapons for Abu Talha's terrorist group, and training terrorist cells, arrested in Mosul. Tipoff came from local residents.

12/30/04 — Fadil Hussain Ahmed al—Kurdi, AKA Ridha, captured along with two other terrorists. Ridha was responsible for facilitating communications between terror networks as well as coordinating terrorist movements. Brother of Umar Baziyani, a Zarqawi lieutenant captured in May.

1/15/05 — Sami Mohammed Ali Said al—Jaaf, AKA Abu Omar al—Kurdi, arrested in Baghdad with two others.  Responsible for 32 car
bombings, among them the August 2003 bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. "The most lethal of Abu Musab al—Zarqawi's lieutenants." 

1/26/05 — Ali Mohammad, AKA Abdul Jalil, a leader of the Tawhid Al—Jihad group, killed during a Marine raid in Haditha, west of Baghdad.

2/20/05 — Taleb Mikhlef al—Dulaimi, AKA Abu Qutaybah, Zarqawi's logistical planner,  "responsible for determining who, when and how terrorist leaders would meet with al—Zarqawi,"  caught in a raid in the town of Anah, 150 miles west of Baghdad. Iraqi forces also captured Ahmad Khalid al—Rawi, who arranged meetings for Zarqawi and occasionally worked as his driver.

3/09/05 ——Taifor Abdulsattar Malallah, al—Qaida emir for Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, arrested by Iraqi security forces. Bakir al—Hiraibi, a close aide, and five other cell members also bagged.

4/02/05 — Iraqi and U.S. forces arrest Mullah Mahdi, AKA Mehdi Moussa, and five other suspects (Mahdi's brother, three Iraqis and a Syrian) in
Mosul.

4/26/05 — Ghassan Mohammed Amin Hussein al—Rawi arrested during a raid in Rawa, 200 miles west of Baghdad. Facilitated Zarqawi's movements and infiltrated foreigners into Iraq. He also stole cars to convert into bombs and kidnapped civilians for ransom. Two of his lieutenants also arrested.

5/2/05 — Lieutenant Colonel Nabil Badri al—Nasseri surrenders to the Iraqi army in Tikrit. Nasseri was a member of Saddam's tribe and a former
National Guardsman responsible for attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces in Salaheddin province north of Baghdad.

5/5/05 — Ammar al—Zubaydi, AKA Abu Abbas, captured by Iraqi forces in Baghdad. Responsible for many suicide car bombings and an attack on the Abu Ghraib prison in April. Documents seized at al—Zubaydi's home indicated that he was preparing to assassinate a senior government official.

5/26/05 (announced) —— Iraqi forces arrest Mullah Kamel al—Aswadi, the most—wanted terrorist in north—central Iraq, trying to bribe his way through a checkpoint in the town of Balad. In his car was found a global positioning system, multiple ID papers, a mortar scope, and U.S. currency. Al—Aswadi was involved in funding terror cells, terrorist training, and manufacturing car and roadside bombs. 

6/4/05 —  Umar Baziyani, Zarqawi's number four and emir of Baghdad, captured by U.S. troops.  He was sought in connection with a series of attacks on Coalition forces. Baziyani "has been helpful" in providing intelligence on three Zarqawi—network safe houses in Fallujah.

6/7/05 —— Jassim Hazan Hamadi al—Bazi, AKA Abu Ahmed, arrested in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. Al—Bazi built and sold (for about $18,000 each) remote—controlled bombs used in roadside attacks. Also an active dealer in missiles, guns, mortars and hand grenades.

6/14/05 — Mohammed Khalif Shaiker (or Sharkawa), AKA Abu Talha, surrenders to U.S. and Iraqi troops in a quiet neighborhood of Mosul. 'One of
Abu Musab al—Zarqawi's most trusted operations agents in Iraq'. Information from Mullah Mahdi led to Shaiker, along with a tip from a Mosul resident. Shaiker carried out at least 50 car bombings and 150 beheadings and assassinations.

6/15/05 — (announced) Abed Dawood Suleiman and his son, former army captain Raed Abed Dawood, picked up in a morning raid on their house in Khalidiya, west of Baghdad. Dawood was chief of Mohammed's army, an armed group linked with Zarqawi.

6/26/05 —— (announced) Khalid Suleiman Darwish, better known as Abu Alghadiya, killed in the town of Qaim near the Syrian border. A Syrian
dentist, Darwish was number two in Iraq's Al— Qaeda network and tipped to succeed Zarqawi. He cofounded the 'Syria Warriors' group with Zarqawi in Afghanistan in1999, which later evolved into Monotheism and Jihad. 

7/02/05 — Abdul Hamid Mustafa al—Douri, an aide to Zarqawi and head of the Salaheddin province Al—Qaida branch, captured in a joint Iraqi police and army operation in a village in northern Tikrit. A relative to Saddam Hussein's aide Izzat Ibrahim, al—Douri was behind a number of car bombings.

8/14/05 —— Abu Zubair, AKA Muhammad Salah Sultan, shot dead in Mosul in an ambush by Iraqi forces. Known to be involved in several attacks, including one on a police station in Mosul which killed five policemen. Zubair was wearing a bomb belt filled with metal pellets when he was killed. 

9/25/05 — Abdullah Abu Azzam, Zarqawi's chief deputy, shot during a house raid in Baghdad. Azzam was emir of Baghdad 'responsible for the recent upsurge in violent attacks in the city since April 2005". A tip from an Iraqi civilian led to the raid.

10/16/05 —— (announced) Abu Dijana, a top Al—Qaida propagandist, captured shortly before the constitutional vote. Dijana was webmaster of the site "al—Qaida in Iraq,", which featured graphic videos of suicide bombings and communications between Al—Qaida fighters.

10/19/05 — Yasir Sabhawi Ibrahim, son of Saddam's half—brother Sabhawi Ibrahim Hasan al—Tikriti, arrested in a Baghdad apartment several days after Syrian authorities forced him to return to Iraq. Was a top financier of the insurgency.

10/15/05 —— Sa'ad Ali Firas Muntar al—Dulaimi, AKA Abu Abdullah, killed by U.S. troops along with 11 other jihadists in Ramadi. Responsible for executing terrorist attacks on Iraqi and Coalition forces in Ramadi and Fallujah.

10/25/05 —— Monem Shakem al—Qubaisi, chief terrorist financier for Fallujah, arrested by Iraqi troops.

10/27/05 — Nashwan Mijhim Muslet, (scroll down) Al—Qaida cell leader, killed in Mosul along with his chief of security, Nahi Achmed Obeid Sultan. Muslet was responsible for several filmed beheadings.

10/27/05 — Abu Du'a, Al—Qaida terrorist smuggler operating on the Syrian border, killed in an airstrike near Qiam.

10/31/05 —— Abu Umar and Abu Hamza, regional Al—Qaida Iraq leaders operating in the Husaybah area, killed by Coalition airstrikes. Umar specialized in bomb attacks and smuggling jihadists, while Hamza commanded several Al—Qaida cells.

11/05/05 — Ramadi terrorist leader Majid Adnon Swedowi captured by U.S. troops.

That's thirty—nine, minus assorted hangers—on. There are others — an unnamed known associate of Zarqawi killed in a strike on a Fallujah safe house last October, another unidentified figure, holding U.S./Jordanian citizenship, captured in Baghdad in 2004. And there are no doubt more we won't learn about until all the intelligence value is wrung out of them. 

A small number, you say?  Think of what we'd be hearing if forty American unit
commanders had been killed or captured in the past year.

In any case, an insurgency is not primarily a war of numbers. Guerilla warfare, as the U.S. never quite learned in Vietnam, is a war of impressions and images. Which side possesses true  freedom of action, which is gaining the allegiance of the people, which has — and more important, displays that it has — the overall initiative? Which is the strong horse and which the weak? — to quote one noted authority.

In such a conflict, the insurgent must come across as invulnerable and omnipotent — a ghostly and untrackable force that lives in darkness, strikes at times of its choosing, commands complete loyalty and instills abject fear. Does this really sound like Al—Qaida in Iraq?

Consider the number of incidents in which a jihadi was turned in by Iraqi civilians. We're told that Iraqis are fearful of the terrorists, indifferent or hostile to the Coalition and the government. The record here suggests otherwise. Of course, many are no doubt acting in hope of cash rewards, but that changes nothing.

How many Mafia capos were ever turned in for cash in Sicily? Or Chicago, for that matter? The Iraqi people aren't afraid of this crew. What earthly use are terrorists who can't generate terror?

Consider also the number of arrests carried out by Iraqi personnel, both police and military. Iraqi forces have been criticized for their performance in the past, with some justification. But here they are, going out on the toughest kind of job — taking down valuable jihadi personnel on their own ground — and doing it well.

Finally, consider the enemy themselves. A military force that is losing its cadre and seeing it replaced by inexperienced, less capable, and considerably more cautious commanders, will exhibit certain traits. It will slow down. It will lose its boldness. It will settle for operations that limit exposure to counterattack.

Which is exactly what we're now seeing in Iraq. It has been a long, long time since any terrorists have attempted an attack in force against Coalition or Iraqi units. The last such incident I can recall is the failed assault on the Abu Ghraib prison last April. Even the ambush, the tactic nonpareil of the insurgent, is seldom seen these days.

Media predictions for the October 15 constitutional vote envisioned a massacre little short of the Apocalypse. In fact, only 89 attacks occurred across the entire country, as compared to nearly 350 during the January parliamentary vote. The jihadists seem to be limiting themselves to slaughtering schoolteachers, executing kidnapped men, and setting off the trusty car bomb, tactics which serve only to outrage and infuriate the Iraqi public.

The botched Palestine Hotel attack, the Amman bombing, and last week's strange threat to 'make the earth tremble' if the Coalition's Husaybah operations continued, merely underline this state of affairs. Today's botched hotel attack and bloody attack on a Shiite mosque are wining no friends from among the Iraqis. They're transparent desperation measures, carried out to distract attention from obvious weakness.

How could the media have missed this story? (Because miss it they have — the sole coverage I was able to find consisted of a USA Today piece which got most of the details wrong — mistaken dates, aliases confused with real names, etc.) The same way they've missed the rise of the Iraqi army, evidence of Syrian and Iranian complicity, the attitudes of the Iraqi public, and on and on. It simply doesn't fit the narrative to which they have committed themselves.

Reporters are not indifferent, nor do they support the Islamofascists (as some of the more paranoid conservative outlets have suggested). But they're also no better than they have to be, and when a story appears that breaks the paradigm, rather than rock the boat, they simply drop it. And a story that goes unreported, as we all know, is a story that never happened.

The narrative is called 'Iraq as Vietnam'. Its outlines are too familiar to repeat. But the point to make is that it's potentially fatal. A few years ago, historian Lewis Sorley published A Better War, a history covering the final years of the U.S. effort in Vietnam, in which he argued that by 1970 the U.S. had effectively defeated both the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese, only to see the victory thrown away precisely because the public at large was convinced that the war had been lost, and that no power on the earth could ever turn it around.

We're facing the same thing in Iraq. The essence of the Vietnam myth is 'no progress' — grueling combat for endless years with rising casualties and nothing to show for it. Those forty emirs are a potent argument against the Vietnam paradigm. As are the vote results, the recent Sunni actions against Zarqawi's forces, the rising tide of Iraqi fighting men. But if it's happening without a context, it may as well not be happening at all. What we require is a counter—narrative, one that encompasses not only the Islamofascists being ground into hamburger, but the potent role of Iraqi troops, and the choices being made by the Iraqi people.

Every car bomb, every IED, every assassination is a weapon aimed at American public opinion. The same must be made true of Coalition victories. Success is not success if it remains unacknowledged. Progress in Iraq must be brought out of the shadows. Until it is, we're not quite winning, no matter how many emirs we account for.

Our forces in Iraq have performed magnificently, but they cannot win the war at home. That is up to us. Too many of us are content to passively support the troops, and allow the media to sap national morale with a prefabricated story ignoring the facts. We cannot afford to be AWOL. It is time to engage in the combat of words and ideas on the home front. Our victorious  forces deserve no less.