Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Sick Game

A quick update on world affairs: the U.S. has taken to blowing up primary schools in order to get at insurgents. No word on how effective that strategy is yet. Meanwhile, al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a recorded statement in which he mocks U.S. plans for troop withdrawal. "We ask Allah that they only get out after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, so that we give the blood spillers in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson," he said. If this statement is any indication, killing Iraqi schoolchildren probably won't be the United States's best plan for defeating an ever-evolving extremist organization.

Al-Zawahiri's statement is nothing more than a playground taunt writ on a global scale. Should we fall for it? Should we play this deadly game any more? Given al-Qaeda's apparent truculence, is it worth our lives and our resources to pursue such a course of action? And even if we could somehow roundly thump all the agents of al Qaeda (a fantastically unlikely proposition at best), what then? Al Qaeda's political goals do not exist in a vacuum, and real poverty and desperation exist in the Middle East. Eradicating al Qaeda will not address the grievances, real or imagined, that they purport to address. From that perspective, destroying al Qaeda accomplishes nothing.

We are shadow-boxing in Iraq now, fighting a bully that can't really be hit, but that gets stronger with each misstep we make. I've said it before: bring the troops home.

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