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Fallujah: What if Zarqawi Escapes?
The time has come to finally capture Fallujah.
With Muqtada al-Sadr long since neutralized, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is the clear head of the remaining insurgency. What if he escapes, as Osama bin Laden did?
I don't think it matters much, just as I don't think bin Laden matters much anymore. How can I say that? Because we are safe unless opposed by some one or some group with both the intent and the capability to harm us.
The destruction of al Qaeda has been extremely successful. Three-quarters of its leadership has been captured or killed, its training camps shut down, and its finances and communication disrupted. That they did not attack us in an attempt to disrupt our election is, I think, the clearest evidence that al Qaeda is critically wounded. Imagine how much more powerful bin Laden's peek-a-boo video would have been had it followed even a modest but successful attack.
Yes, bin Laden still intends to harm us. But his capability to do so is seriously in question. To that extent, his relevance is diminished. (Even speaking of bin Laden personally is an incorrect focus, his organization is the proper unit to consider… and it's hurting.)
Likewise, if Zarqawi escapes during the reduction of Fallujah, he will have abandoned his supplies and organization. His major assets gone, he will be much less dangerous.
This is the root of why I've never been moved by arguments that we're only breeding more terrorists by interfering in the region. Most of them hated us already; their intentions haven't changed. By joining the insurgency they acquire some modest capabilities, true, but at the same time they become targets. Their reach does not extend to our lands, but our troops can certainly reach theirs. I am pleased that the region's most dangerous elements can be dealt with by our military in a setting where they are overwhelmingly outmatched.
It is a very cold calculation, but the more Jihadi seductees we can kill, the less influence they will wield in a democratic Iraq. We're targeting exactly those people who are the greatest threat to us and to the society we intend to establish there.