EVERYTHING KEEPING US TOGETHER IS FALLING APART

EVERYTHING KEEPING US TOGETHER IS FALLING APART. One more thing about the SOTU. Bush relied on the familiar case that you and your family will die if we withdraw from Iraq: "[O]ut of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America." One of the bravest journalists there is, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, recently spent some time among the Sunni insurgents and found an encouraging pocket of Sunni discontent with al-Qaeda:

This man who had spent the last three years fighting the Americans was now willing to talk to them, not because he wanted to make peace but because he saw the Americans as the lesser of two evils. He was wrestling with the same dilemma as many Sunni insurgent leaders, beginning to doubt the wisdom of their alliance with al-Qaida extremists.

Another insurgent commander told me: "At the beginning al-Qaida had the money and the organisation, and we had nothing." But this alliance soon dragged the insurgents and then the whole Sunni community into confrontation with the Shia militias as al-Qaida and other extremists massacred thousands of Shia civilians. Insurgent commanders such as Abu Omar soon found themselves outnumbered and outgunned, fighting organised militias backed by the Shia-dominated security forces.

Abu Omar is in Baghdad, where General Petraeus will soon be pursuing him. He may find himself with little choice but to abandon this effort in order to save his own life; and then the wedge separating the Sunni Iraqis from the foreign al-Qaeda elements will close again. Maybe it would be better to take the offer of the guy who fights the U.S. only because the U.S. is in his country and join forces against those who really do want to kill us. A good way of doing that would be to convince Abu Omar we're going to get out of his country, thereby denying al-Qaeda its pretext for being in Iraq. Just a suggestion.

--Spencer Ackerman

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