The terrorists have been mounting a slow-motion Tet offensive of spectacular attacks on markets, bridges, and mosques, knowing that the media report each such attack as an American defeat. The fact is that al Qaeda is steadily losing its grip in Iraq, and these attacks are alienating its erstwhile Iraqi supporters. But the terrorists are counting on sapping our will as the VC did, and persuading America to choose to lose a war it could win.
-- matched by a companion piece, or really an opposing piece (black king, white king), on General Petraeus' strategy --
Political progress is something that follows the establishment of security, not something that causes it. [...] This new approach focuses on establishing security in Baghdad and its immediate environs as the prerequisite for political progress. [...I]t would be a very grave error indeed to rush now to abandon the first strategy that offers some real prospect for success . . .
-- an arresting detail caught my eye, embedded in the middle of this paragraph:
It has long been clear that most Iraqis want nothing to do with al Qaeda's religious and political views. They do not find the intolerant and occasionally ludicrous al Qaeda program appealing: Being required to segregate vegetables in a market by sex, as al Qaeda fighters have apparently demanded, appalls Iraqis just as it would Americans. Yet whenever al Qaeda makes itself comfortable in an Iraqi neighborhood, it begins to enforce its absurd and intolerant version of Islam. Locals resist, and al Qaeda begins to "punish" them with an increasing scale of atrocities. Just that sort of escalation led to al Qaeda's loss of control in Anbar and to the growth of the various anti-al Qaeda movements in Iraq's Sunni community.
Waitaminnit. Segregate vegetables by sex?
When I Googled it the first page that came up was all Kagan, reprints and repeats and quotes of this same piece Finally I found this:
According to the Associated Press, after the Sunni tribes realized that Al Qaeda expected vegetable vendors in their areas to segregate their tomatoes from their cucumbers - because of the their gender differences - it finally dawned on the Sunni leaders that life under Al Qaeda wouldn't exactly be, well, free.
A tomato and a cucumber?! Why, it's as obvious as a carrot and an onion ring. Worse yet, the tomato could be thought to be in a state of uncleanness and therefore really threatening to pollute that nice crisp cucumber. Analyze that the next time you toss a salad.
Sharon Chadha continues:
While admittedly I don't have a clear sense of what the mentality might be over there, it does still strike me as odd that this was a reason cited - as opposed to say, the fact that Al Qaeda is now reportedly forcing children to carry out its deadly missions.
The link to the AP has expired.
Well, sometimes the absurd is the last straw. Angry, incredulous laughter breaks the paralysis of horror. It goes, wait, maybe these people aren't the monsters they want us to cower and quail before. Maybe they're just nutcases: fanatics, fools, and idiots.