On The State Of Jihad

The Westchester Institute's Fr. Thomas Berg has a nice interview with Bret Stephens on jihadism. Fr. B. asks good questions, such as, why has there been no attack on our soil? Partly luck and partly George Bush:
The war in Iraq played a large role: Literally thousands of jihadists from across the Arab world chose to stand their ground in this "central battleground," to use Ayman az-Zawahiri's term, and died there.

President Bush's fundamental insight -- that the war on terrorists is better waged offensively than defensively -- is right, and the dividends have been both strategic and ideological. The elimination of senior AQ cadres has forced the group to rely on an increasingly untested and often fractious tier of new recruits, who often have to spend the better part of their time attending to their own survival than to hatching new terrorist plots (a similar situation unfolded in the Palestinian areas in 2002-2005 as Israel pursued its policy of "targeted assassinations" and the rate of suicide bombings plummeted). Ideologically, AQ now finds itself, for the first time since 9/11, having to defend its tactics even among its own erstwhile fellow travelers, the best example of which is the public rift between Zawahiri and one-time jihadist comrade Sayeed Imam (the founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad) over the doctrinal justifications and tactical advisability of AQ's methods. This is a potential cultural earthquake in the Muslim world, one I doubt would have come about had the Administration not taken the war on terror to the heart of the Middle East.

There's a lot more, but I had to get that in, since the new Bob Woodward book is out claiming that Bush didn't listen to his generals. ABC radio "reported" the Woodward book last night along these lines (I was driving, so this is from memory):

President Bush repeatedly said he'd listen to his generals about the war in Iraq, but it was White House officials, not the Joint Chiefs, who wanted the surge.
Blah-de-blah. By "generals" I always understood Bush to mean the generals in Iraq, not the Joint Chiefs. You think he didn't listen to Petraeus and Odierno? And anyway, what kind of people complain of victory?

Which brings me to another of Fr. Berg's good questions: have we really won? And Stephens' answer:

There's a story today that the U.S. Army is no longer awarding combat citations to troops deployed to certain areas of Iraq because those areas have been so thoroughly pacified. That includes Anbar province, now fully under Iraq's sovereign administration. This tells us something.

Yes, I'd say so! As for the complaint that the Iraqi democracy is fragile:

Iraq is a democracy by any reasonable description of the term. It has a lawfully chosen prime minister and an elected parliament, each with defined constitutional powers, it has political parties, universal suffrage and regular elections. The Iraqis have demonstrated their commitment to democracy by the endless tussles over the various pieces of legislation that have defined the so-called political benchmarks set for it last year. Maliki's hardball approach to a status-of-forces agreement with the U.S. is largely a function of domestic politics and elections scheduled for later this year. How is this not democratic, except that the institutions are obviously young and fragile? American institutions were in a similar stage when, for instance, Aaron Burr was around, or John C. Calhoun.
Excellent. RTWT.