Wednesday, June 22, 2005

If you think that's a freedom fighter, I've got a bridge for sale

Hey folk(s), it's been quite a while since I danced not-so-nimbly across this page. My diligence and manhood have been questioned after a shocking dearth of posts and one reader went so far as to call me a disgrace to the blogging community. Those critics may be a tad disappointed now that I'm back.

One of the largest problems I have with the coverage of the Iraq war is the usage of the term "insurgent" or "the insurgency." There were undoubtedly Baathist elements involved in the early stages of the fighting (and, to a lesser degree, they still exist). And it would by naive to think that there are no forces in Iraq whose singular goal is to create political change solely within Iraq. But it seems quite clear to me that the overwhelming majority of these "insurgents" are jihadists pure and simple. Not Iraqi freedom fighters. Not Iraqi anything. No, they are extremist Islamic terrorists.

At this point, the majority of these men are not Iraqi. They are by in large Syrian and Saudi and fight not for a goal or unified set of beliefs as much as they work together against a common enemy – the U.S. For quite some time, common thinking held that the sooner the Sunni minority was incorporated into the government and elective process, the sooner the suicide bombings, IED bombings and mortar attacks would subside. Yet the violence has increased noticeably despite recent willingness on the part of the Sunnis to enter the political fold. Not only are these 'insurgents' targeting civilians but they lack any sort of alignment with a semi-legitimate political party ala Sinn Fein-IRA.

At times during the American Revolution, forces led by General Washington engaged in what can be described as insurgent warfare. A similar argument could be made for the tactics of Massoud's forces in Afghanistan against the Soviets and later against the Taliban. Likewise for the North Vietnamese during the aptly named Vietnam War. These insurgencies differ from what we are seeing in Iraq in that they had goals that ended within the boundaries of their own countries. What we are witnessing in Iraq is a terrorist movement, orchestrated and implemented by the very same forces that brought 9/11 to bear. They have but one goal: destruction of the United States. Whether we were in Iraq, Iran, Syria or elsewhere, we would be facing the same enemy--perhaps the very same men--motivated by the same beliefs and ideals.

The forces fighting against U.S. and Iraqi troops (and terrorizing the public) would not remain effective were it not for the support of nearby legitimate governments, namely Syria. President Bashar Assad is nimbly playing both sides of the fence on this issue by withdrawing troops from Lebanon and jailing known terrorists on one the one hand while on the other hand releasing said terrorists nearly immediately after their incarceration. It is a game well-practiced by like-minded middle eastern states; for years, the Saudi and Jordanian royal families have whispered sweet nothings in the ear of the U.S. while implicitly and explicitly supporting clerics and organized groups militarily opposed to the U.S. and its interests. Unfortunately for the Assads of the world, the initiator of such actions rarely wins in the long run. It is only a matter of time before Assad (and others like him) will face the rath of those he encourages (the extremists) and those who he seeks to damage (United States).

Regardless, people who blow up diners and street markets do not constitute an insurgency. They are terrorists, pure and simple. They deserve to be addressed as such.



Anonymous kerner said...

I've heard conflicting reports about the the constitution of the insurgents: conventional wisdom seems to be that they are outsiders but I have also read reports from some officers saying that they are overwhelmingly Iraqi (leaving aside the question of whether they have transnational goals or not). In any case, can you refer me to whatever sources you used for this post? I am curious to read up on it.

6:14 AM  

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