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Abu Musab al—Zarqawi released an infomercial on the Web on Tuesday.  While tedious, as informercials tend to be, the significance of his message should not be missed.  The Jordanian terrorist wants the world to know that he represents al—Qaeda in Iraq and goes out of his way to appear deferential to Osama bin Laden.

There are two reasons in a military campaign to go on the offensive.  One is to move the venue of battle in the direction you wish it to go.  The other is to force the enemy to fight in a place of your choosing — to force him to throw his resources in against yours. 

In 1998, al—Qaeda in the person of Osama bin Laden, declared war on the United States in a written proclamation in London.  We ignored that to our sorrow.  Al—Qaeda became progressively more aggressive — the African embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole — and then finally attacked us at home on 9/11.

We are, as the president reminds us, at war with terrorists and particularly with al—Qaeda.  Mr Zarqawi has kindly clarified what is at stake in Iraq as the current venue in this global war, where the freedom and happiness of the Iraqi people are at stake, but also where our war with al—Qaeda currently has its active front.  This is somewhat equivalent to Guadalcanal, our first land offensive in World War II.  That campaign turned out to be much more difficult than expected, resulting not only in a vicious land battle, but also in a war of attrition at sea, where several major warships — cruisers, destroyers and aircraft carriers — were sunk and several battleships severely damaged.  It remains a proud battle streamer on the Marine Corps flag, famous for its never—day—die battles with the banzai—charging Japanese who were resupplied and reinforced week after week by the Tokyo Express.

The battle in Iraq is of a different type with a different timeline, but with the same purpose — defeating the enemy on ground that we have forced him to fight for.  Quite why prominent retired generals want to give up while the enemy is still in the field is unclear to me.  So far as I am concerned, they have yet to make their case, except to express personal pique at the Secretary of Defense for undefined discourtesies they imagine him to have made.

Abu Musab al—Zarqawi this week did us the great favor of clarifying what is at stake in Iraq and who is fighting there.

Greg Richards   4 27 06

Abu Musab al—Zarqawi released an infomercial on the Web on Tuesday.  While tedious, as informercials tend to be, the significance of his message should not be missed.  The Jordanian terrorist wants the world to know that he represents al—Qaeda in Iraq and goes out of his way to appear deferential to Osama bin Laden.

There are two reasons in a military campaign to go on the offensive.  One is to move the venue of battle in the direction you wish it to go.  The other is to force the enemy to fight in a place of your choosing — to force him to throw his resources in against yours. 

In 1998, al—Qaeda in the person of Osama bin Laden, declared war on the United States in a written proclamation in London.  We ignored that to our sorrow.  Al—Qaeda became progressively more aggressive — the African embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole — and then finally attacked us at home on 9/11.

We are, as the president reminds us, at war with terrorists and particularly with al—Qaeda.  Mr Zarqawi has kindly clarified what is at stake in Iraq as the current venue in this global war, where the freedom and happiness of the Iraqi people are at stake, but also where our war with al—Qaeda currently has its active front.  This is somewhat equivalent to Guadalcanal, our first land offensive in World War II.  That campaign turned out to be much more difficult than expected, resulting not only in a vicious land battle, but also in a war of attrition at sea, where several major warships — cruisers, destroyers and aircraft carriers — were sunk and several battleships severely damaged.  It remains a proud battle streamer on the Marine Corps flag, famous for its never—day—die battles with the banzai—charging Japanese who were resupplied and reinforced week after week by the Tokyo Express.

The battle in Iraq is of a different type with a different timeline, but with the same purpose — defeating the enemy on ground that we have forced him to fight for.  Quite why prominent retired generals want to give up while the enemy is still in the field is unclear to me.  So far as I am concerned, they have yet to make their case, except to express personal pique at the Secretary of Defense for undefined discourtesies they imagine him to have made.

Abu Musab al—Zarqawi this week did us the great favor of clarifying what is at stake in Iraq and who is fighting there.

Greg Richards   4 27 06