An Empty Insurgency


While the Iraqi insurgency has shown an aptitude for dispensing violence, the question remains as to what exactly the insurgents and al Qaeda have to offer as an alternative political plan. Donald Sensing weighs in with an insightful post (which must be read in full), comparing the Iraqi insurgency and the strategy advocated by Carlos Marighella in the Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla.

Marighella believed that abject violence would lead to brutal repression by state security forces, and drive the people to support the insurgency. Reverend Sensing rightly points out that the alternative to the elected government is a return to Baathism, which the Iraqis are all too familiar with, or a Taliban-like government, and that a repressive crackdown is not necessarily the likely outcome:

There are two fundamental errors of the theory that it cannot overcome and that play to Iraq's long-term favor. The first error is the belief that in Iraq the increasing level of terrorist violence by either al Qaeda in Iraq or FREs [Former Regime Elements] will merge the terrorists with "popular causes," that is, make them one with the people. In Iraq, except for the minority of Sunnis aligned with the old Baathist party or Saddam's clan, the people's cause is freedom and democracy. Violence by Saddam's regime is what terrorized the people for more than 20 years; it will not lead them to submit to Baathist rule again. Quite the contrary, terrorist violence is unifying the Iraqi people with the new, sovereign government. As for al Qaeda's terrorism, the Iraqi people certainly have no desire to live under Islamism (see here) and al Qaeda's gruesome murders only convince the people evermore to shun it.

Al Qaeda is more guilty of this delusion than the FREs. Baathism in Iraq was never anything but simple, nepotistic despotism to begin with; the ruling elite never was deluded that the Iraqi people were anything but subjects to be ruled with an iron hand. But one of Osama bin Laden's (and hence al Qaeda's generally) basic premises is that the Muslim ummah, the masses, are thirsting to live in a strict sharia society. But their powerlessness in the face of the apostate, repressive Arab governments keeps the ummah from their Islamic fulfillment. Since 9/11, though, events have proven that the Muslim masses are thirsting not for Islamism but for its opposite.

The second basic error in Marighella's theory is that increasing government countermeasures inevitably become so repressive of the ordinary people that the masses are driven thereby into embracing the revolutionary cause. Uprising results, the government is overthrown and the revolutionaries gain power  But again, history shows that harsh reactionary repression is not inevitable. The European countries never did it, the United States never did it and Israel hasn't done it either, although Israel's security measures are very strict. The first test case was Uruguay, where the Tupamaros succeeded in goading the government into the crackdown.

We have documented numerous instances of Iraqis growing weary of the insurgency and taking risky action to turn in insurgents or even fight them. The Iraqis clearly do not long for a return to Baathism or a repressive Islamic state.

Two recent articles highlight the Iraqi Security Forces' dealings with fighting the insurgency. The Washington Post describes the trials of the 302nd and 305th Battalions of the Iraqi Army as they patrol the mean streets of Haifa, formerly one of the most dangerous sections of Iraq.

The New York Times Magazine (hat tip Pundita) documents Iraqi General Adnon and his 5,000 strong Special Police Commandos. This unit is made up of former security officers from Saddam's regime, and has been highly effective at fighting the insurgency in Mosul, Ramadi, Samarra, Baghdad and elsewhere in the Sunni Triangle.

Both of these articles are slanted to portray the Iraqi Security Forces as excessive in their use of force with prisoners and suspects (they are the New York Times and the Washington Post, after all). In both instances, the Iraqi Security Forces have a difficult mission, and their tactics are rough compared to American/Western standards. But these troops are ideally suited to fight the insurgency as they are native Iraqis with an understanding of the language, culture and lay of the land in their respective areas of operations.

The Iraqi people are willing to deal with some measure of rough treatment of prisoners to quell the insurgents. The Iraqi Security Forces have not come close to engaging in tactics that will alienate the citizens of Iraq who know the real meaning of terror living under the reign of Saddam and the violence of the insurgents. And as history has borne out, the odds are against the insurgents in succeeding in turning the Iraqis against their government.


Also Read:

Ma Deuce Gunner has an interesting interview with NPR well worth the listen.



Advertisement:


READER COMMENTS: "An Empty Insurgency"

Posted by Ryan at April 30, 2005 10:51 AM ET:

Do the insurgents really need to turn the Iraqis against their government though? With a steady flow of foreign fighters from Saudi Arabia, Syria and other nations and a steady flow of arms from Syria and Iran and enough support in the Sunni triangle to be given refuge, couldn't they fight for a very long time like the jihadis fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan?

A majority of Iraqi opinion has been against the insurgents from the very beginning but there is no indication that Sunni opinion has changed significantly and the Sunni tringle is still a violent and hostile place. It may be impossible to eliminate this insurgency completely but we have to reach the point where Iraqi security forces are strong enough to handle it themselves and then start reducing the number of troops in the country. The major problem still remains the Sunni triangle. Minus the Sunni triangle, we could leave Iraq right now.

Posted by Ryan at April 30, 2005 10:53 AM ET:

The question is not whether most Iraqis want to return to Baathism but whether most Sunni Iraqis do. Many do because they enjoyed all the privileges of Baathism.

Posted by socialism_is_error at April 30, 2005 12:19 PM ET:

Ryan:

I think you must have missed some prior discussions.

The jihadis in Afghanistan were brothers-in-arms in a successful effort against alien enemies; this legitimized them for the natives.

In the Iraqi case, the terrorists have little credibility against our forces and have de-legitimized themselves by turning their fury on the natives. Thus, they are vulnerable.

I am pleased that you seem to evince relief at the possibility of a successful outcome in Iraq.

Bill:

The thoroughness of your posts makes each a pleasure to absorb and makes rare any need to comment. In this one, the point that the MSM misses is one that you never do: that it is critical in these evaluations to try to shed the Western view and adopt (as much as one can understand it) the Iraqi view.

Posted by Bill Roggio at April 30, 2005 12:24 PM ET:

The Afghanistan mujahedeen were popular among the general population, and their support cut across many different ethnic groups. And Communism was very unpopular. This is why it was a successful resistance.

If this is just a Sunni insurgency, it is doomed to fail. They do not have a popular platform or the support of a significant percentage of the Sunni populous. They will never gain popular support among the overwhelming majority Shia-Kurd factions (about 80%). You are assuming a majority of Sunnis support the insurgency, and even the high number estimate of 200,000 fighters and supporters does not bare this out.

Sure, the foreign fighters can fight for a long time, but to what end? Their goal is to prevent the establishment of democracy in Iraq, and they will fail. They will continue to show their true stripes to the Arab world by lashing out violently in a futile atempt to cow the Iraqi people. And they will give us an opportunity to kill them, diverting their resources from attacking us here at home.

Posted by Bill Roggio at April 30, 2005 12:44 PM ET:

SIE, many thanks for the kind words. I should know better to jump in the comments section. There is no need as a good core of knowledgable commenters always make it so I do not have to.

Posted by Ryan at April 30, 2005 12:52 PM ET:

to what end is the interesting question? The people fighting believe in what they're fighting for and are willing to die. How many of them exist (both in Iraq and surrounding nations) is also a good question? An insurgent victory is Iraq is pretty unlikely considering they only have support in some parts of the country. The only way they could possibly win is by winning Shiite and Kurdish support as well and infiltrating all parts of the security forces. They havn't been able to do that in 2 years so they would have to completely change their strategy for any chance of victory.

But then comes the question, how do we win? If 20% of the Iraqi population is fiercely opposed to the US presence in Iraq and elections (or even 5% or 10%), what do you do about them? If Sunni security forces are unwilling to secure the Sunni triangle, then who do you put there in the long-term? If they have a constant flow or foreign fighters, the huge borders have to be sealed in some way so that they can't continue to receive men and arms. Some of the Sunni cities are secure now with US presence but are likely to fall apart if the US leaves.

Posted by Ryan at April 30, 2005 1:02 PM ET:

I know this website always reports on successes in the War on Terror but the big picture is not one of success at all. I wonder if Bill will post based on this news story in his next blog. Conservatives will say that "more attacks mean that terrorist are getting more desperate". Any rational person, however, would say that more attacks point to stronger terrorists.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1114568598413

Posted by Bill Roggio at April 30, 2005 1:31 PM ET:

Ryan,

Easily answered. We are at war, and a rational person knows that you do not defeat the enemy without engaging them in combat. The majority of the incidents are in 4 countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Jammu & Kashmir. These are major areas of operations.

If the goal is to not engage in the fight, which is in essence the answer is to return to the 1990s, where we let them take the initiative by allowing them to plot major attacks.

Posted by Justin B at April 30, 2005 1:41 PM ET:

Ryan,

You are correct that over the last four years, the terrorists have grown stronger. Absolutely without a doubt.

But let's think about why. First, four years ago, Iraq and Afghanistan were ruled by the same Baathists and Taliban/AQ folks that are now running the insurgency. Now instead of commanding large armies of followers and controling huge nations, these nut job extremists are either on the run or in prison. Instead of having militaries, they have small bands of insurgents. And instead of having oil for fraud revenue, they rely on cache's of weapons and illegal funds from "Islamic Charities".

If by getting stronger, you mean they are terrorists instead of dictators and instead of ruling entire countries they are relegated to participating in brutish thugary, you are right. You may define getting stronger as "getting your ass handed to you on the battle field so deciding to cower and hide while occasionally bombing civilians" but I think this indicates that they are continuing to be marginalized.

AS for the link to the Jerusalem Post that you sent, that is simply paraphrasing what Rep. Henry Waxman said. What is news about that? He doesn't have an agenda or anything does he? You want to live in Henry Waxman's little fantasy world, go ahead. Basically what you said is that you would rather believe what Waxman has to say than what we have been posting here. That is solid stuff man. It indicates that you are not using your reasoning ability and would rather believe what you want to believe than what reality is.

Why not get on board with reality that there has not been an attack on the US in four years, that Lebanon is about to have free elections, Palestine had free elections, Iraq had free elections, and Afghanistan had free elections. Yep, all because of stronger terrorists. Good thinking Ryan.

Posted by Ryan at April 30, 2005 2:06 PM ET:


But there are still terrorist attacks in many places and they have been more numerous than before the War in Iraq. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have suffered more attacks than prior to the war. It's excellent that there is more freedom in the Middle East but terrorist is emanating from these freer nations as well. There is no reason that islamic fundaementalist cannot come from a democratic state. In fact, he can come from a democratic state a lot more easily because he has more freedoms and cannot be prosecuted without proper evidence. Lebanon is more free, but still not free of terrorists. The UN and the EU, which are unpopular on here, was a primary reason why this is happening. Iraq is more free, but has more terrorists than before. Egypt is having elections and they also have a problem with terrorists.

My point is that this form of terrorism has little to do with democracy but everything to do with extremist Wahhabi islam. If someone believes that anyone who is not a muslim must be killed, what does it matter if the country has voting rights or not? The largest promoter of Wahhabi islam (cause of most islamic terrorism) in the world is not in jail but was recently meeting with George Bush at his ranch. Where's the outrage on here about the largest funder of the madrassahs in Pakistan that led to birth of the Taliban being given a red carpet treatment in the United States? I personally was very upset when I saw this.

About Henry Waxman... he was quoting a State Department report which was published.

Posted by Kartik at April 30, 2005 2:43 PM ET:

I doubt there is any circumstance under which Ryan would admit that the War on Terror is going well through Bush's actions.

Just because Egypt, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia still exist, the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were wrong and misguided.

Don't solve this problem since other problems exist - the liberal mantra.

Posted by Justin B at April 30, 2005 2:43 PM ET:

Waxman was editorializing on the State Department report. And making assumptions. Why is necessary to even quote him quoting a State Department report?

You are correct about Wahhabi Islam, however you are misguided about Prince Abdullah being the largest promoter of terrorism (which you implied by extension). If you look at Saudi History, you cannot indite all Wahhabis as encouraging terrorism. Clearly they have beliefs that are different from ours, but we cannot say that the Saudi Royal Prince should be in jail.

Islam has the right to its existence. And from what you just described, you are blaming the Saudi government for global terrorism. And even if that is not the case, you are blaming Wahhabism. OK, then that is a fair assessment. I will agree with you that Wahhabi Islam is the primary cause of terror in the region. Now, let's come back to how you assess the War in Iraq as causing the increase in terror. Are the Saudis the cause or is the war in Iraq the cause of the uptick in violence?

What do you propose that Bush do? Not meet with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who happens to also be under attack by the same Wahhabi Islamic forces? Oh, wait, you think he is sponsoring the Wahhabi nuts like Bin Laden and should be in jail. No, they aren't trying to throw the Royal Family out of Saudi Arabia and take over that country are they? Course not. The Royal Prince is the bad guy.

You specifically called the Saudi Royal Prince the "the largest promoter of Wahhabi islam (cause of most islamic terrorism) in the world" who should be in jail. I think you are confused Ryan. Please explain to me how Pince Abdullah is behind global terror and belongs in jail. Enlighten us.

Posted by Enigma at April 30, 2005 5:10 PM ET:

Ryan,

You ask good questions and make some rather good points. The biggest flaw I see in your logic is the implied assumption that an increase in terrorist attacks indicate the US is not doing well in the War on Terror.

You can't analyze the War on Terror strictly on the basis of the number of terrorist attacks. You must look at many other factors as well, including who the terrorists are attacking, and how effective their attacks are, both tactically and strategically. Bill has analyzed many of these factors in this blog, and the overall picture is that the terrorists are losing.

Desperate men do desperate things. Consider this example:

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched an attacked at the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Two waves of over 350 Japanese aircraft sank or damaged 18 US naval vessels.

3 1/2 years later, during the Battle of Okinawa, the Japanese launched dozens of attacks against the US Fleet, including 10 major waves of kamikazes (read: suicide bombers), involving thousands of Japanese aircraft. 34 US naval vessels were sunk, and 368 damaged.

By your logic, the Japanese were winning the war at this point. But we know, of course, that wasn't the case.

We could still lose this War on Terror. We're winning, but it isn't won yet. We have to keep pressing our offensive against the terrorists, and their sponsors, wherever they may be. The most potent weapon the terrorists can have is not WMDs. It would be our own lack of will to fight. We musn't give them that weapon.

Posted by Kartik at April 30, 2005 6:13 PM ET:

Well put, Engima.

Also note that 300,000 Russian soldiers died just in taking Berlin. This was after the war was nearly over and the Axis had lost.

Was the Axis winning at that point?

Posted by Ryan at April 30, 2005 6:27 PM ET:

The Saudi Royal Family is under attack from their own Frankenstein. The Sauds and the Wahhabis formed a pact a couple hundred years ago to support each other into power. The Saudi Royal Family is the largest funder of madrassahs in Pakistan and other nations like the Philippines that teach extremism to poor young men. Should the Saudi Prince be in jail? That's a tough question. I definitely don't think he should be ruling a country. His funding of the Taliban undermined the existing Afghan government before the Taliban came to power. Funding instability in someone else's country is a violation of international law so according to those rules the Saudi Prince is an international criminal. He has a vested interest in his deals with terrorists. After the revolution in Iran, he has tried to eliminate muslim student opposition of the type in Iran by funding their activities overseas to take pressure off of the Kingdom. Notice that all the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia were directed towards Western targets and not the Saud family? Well it's true. Not one terror attack in Saudi Arabia has been directed towards the Sauds.

I know everyone here is a committed Republican but if you were truly committed to the cause of extracating terrorism, you would not be giving the Crown Prince a clean slate. Let the Crown Prince off the hook for funding the Taliban and madrassahs which actually attacked America and believing Saddam Hussein is the next Hitler for funding terrorists that attacked Israel is pretty hypocritical. The terrorists in Israel are actually based on a political conflict while the terrorists in Pakistan and Philippines that Abdallah funds are terrorists with only the cause of destroying anything unislamic which is even worse.

I don't want terrorism to win. I want to attack it where it actually exists and do things that might actually eliminate it instead of giving Bin Laden a field day in recruiting and create another jihad capital like the War in Iraq did. I would have gone into Afghanistan with more troops to catch escaping Al Qaeda. I would put more pressure on Israel about their settlements and pressure them into a fair solution that involves borders close to the 1967 ones. 100% support of Israel is making muslims think that America is not looking out for their best interests. I would have left Saddam where he was for now but increased the inspectors and used covert pressure by arming groups in his country. I would put all sorts of pressure on the Saudis to stop funding Wahhabi religious schools instead of having a cozy relationship with them.

The increase in terror attacks is not a definite indication that we're losing anything. It just doesn't indicate that we're winning either. It's impossible to ever eliminate terror completely as there will always be people willing to use those techniques. Extremist islamic terror will never be eliminate unless hate is not taught to children anymore and that begins with the extremist schools. If schools are teaching kids that, it doesn't matter if a country is a democracy, monarchy or dictatorship.

The Crown Prince deserves no red carpet treatment in the United States

Posted by Ryan at April 30, 2005 7:56 PM ET:

http://www.answers.com/wahhabi&r=67

Read this from the encyclopedia. Since the 1700's when the Saud tribe was first, the Wahhabis and the Saud family have been working together for power on the Arabia peninsula.

Posted by Ryan at April 30, 2005 7:59 PM ET:

This certainly does not talk about the Sauds and the Wahhabis being enemies

FROM ANSWERS.COM:

Driven from Medina for his preaching, the founder of the Wahhabi sect went into the NE Nejd and converted the Saud tribe. The Saudi sheik, convinced that it was his religious mission to wage holy war (jihad) against all other forms of Islam, began the conquest of his neighbors in c.1763. By 1811 the Wahhabis ruled all Arabia, except Yemen, from their capital at Riyadh. The Ottoman sultan, nominally suzerain over Arabia, had vainly sent out expeditions to crush them. Only when the sultan called on Muhammad Ali of Egypt for aid did he meet success; by 1818 the Wahhabis were driven into the desert.

In the Nejd the Wahhabis collected their power again and from 1821 to 1833 gained control over the Persian Gulf coast of Arabia. The domain thereafter steadily weakened; Riyadh was lost in 1884, and in 1889 the Saud family fled for refuge into the neighboring state of Kuwait. The Wahhabi movement was to enjoy its third triumph when Ibn Saud advanced from his capture of Riyadh in 1902 to the reconstitution in 1932 of nearly all his ancestral domain under the name Saudi Arabia, where it remains dominant.

Posted by Enigma at April 30, 2005 9:37 PM ET:

The Saudi Royal Family is under attack from their own Frankenstein.

True. And I think they are beginning to realize this.

The Sauds and the Wahhabis formed a pact a couple hundred years ago to support each other into power.

True. Your history is correct.

Not one terror attack in Saudi Arabia has been directed towards the Sauds.

A contradiction with your earlier statement.

I know everyone here is a committed Republican

Neither true nor relevant.

but if you were truly committed to the cause of extracating terrorism, you would not be giving the Crown Prince a clean slate.

I am and I don't.

Let the Crown Prince off the hook for funding the Taliban and madrassahs which actually attacked America and believing Saddam Hussein is the next Hitler for funding terrorists that attacked Israel is pretty hypocritical.

Not hypocritical. Practical. Hussein was seen as the greater threat. Although I'm not exactly sure that Abdullah has been let off the hook. Public appearances don't necessarily correlate to what's going on behind the scenes.

The terrorists in Israel are actually based on a political conflict while the terrorists in Pakistan and Philippines that Abdallah funds are terrorists with only the cause of destroying anything unislamic which is even worse.

Worse than what? Killing innocent Jews is not as bad as killing innocent people in general? How can you say that the terrorists in Pakistan and the Philippines are less political than the Palestinians? Re-establishing the Caliphate is, IMHO, very political.

I don't want terrorism to win.

Good.

I want to attack it where it actually exists and do things that might actually eliminate it instead of giving Bin Laden a field day in recruiting and create another jihad capital like the War in Iraq did.

What jihad capital are you referring to? What evidence points to the war in Iraq as having improved Al Qaeda's recruiting?

I would have gone into Afghanistan with more troops to catch escaping Al Qaeda.

And give Bin Laden a recruiting field day? Your logic is not consistent.

I would put more pressure on Israel about their settlements and pressure them into a fair solution that involves borders close to the 1967 ones.

I'm all for that. I'm also for the Palestinians giving up terrorism and accepting Israel's right to exist. You don't get one without the other.

100% support of Israel is making muslims think that America is not looking out for their best interests.

We're not looking out for Muslim interests. We're looking out for American interests. It just so happens that supporting democracy in the Middle East works towards the interests of both Americans and Muslims.

I would have left Saddam where he was for now

I would have, too. I actually accepted the containment argument. But given what we've learned since about the Oil-for-Food scandal, that would have been a mistake. Good thing I'm not in charge.

but increased the inspectors

Been there, done that.

and used covert pressure by arming groups in his country.

We did to a certain extent. We gave a lot of help to the Kurds, but I don't think we supported the Shia too much, other than with the no-fly zones. Finding a Sunni group was to work with was much more problematic.

I would put all sorts of pressure on the Saudis to stop funding Wahhabi religious schools instead of having a cozy relationship with them.

I think the Saudis are waking up. I could be wrong, but I do believe they are beginning to see Al Qaeda as much more of a threat to themselves than they once thought.

The increase in terror attacks is not a definite indication that we're losing anything. It just doesn't indicate that we're winning either.

The increase in terror attacks in of itself indicates nothing. You have to analyze this in context. We are winning, but drawing such a conclusion requires the analysis of many pieces of information, only one of which is the increase in terror attacks.

It's impossible to ever eliminate terror completely as there will always be people willing to use those techniques. Extremist islamic terror will never be eliminate unless hate is not taught to children anymore and that begins with the extremist schools. If schools are teaching kids that, it doesn't matter if a country is a democracy, monarchy or dictatorship.

True. But what form government minimizes the chance that schools would be teaching hate? I'll put my money on a liberal democracy any day.

The Crown Prince deserves no red carpet treatment in the United States

I don't believe he does, either. There aren't too many foreign leaders that I think should get the red carpet treatment.

Crown Prince Abdullah is not one of my favorites. He's had a history of anti-American attitudes.

Posted by Justin B at May 1, 2005 1:40 AM ET:

The Saudis have considerably strengthened their alliances with the US since 9-11. The Saudi government has woken up to realize that the Wahhabi extremist threat is now trying to topple their government and it is in most ways the fault of the House of Saud and their ignoring the problem festering.

I am not going to continue to punish folks for their September 10th activities. Clearly Pakistan was equally complicit prior to 9-11 by their support of the Taliban, yet they have been one of our biggest key allies in the WOT.

I agree that Prince Abdullah and the Saudi Royals helped create this monster, but they are also working to help defeat the terrorists. I am not sure if they are playing both sides in this and to what extent, but I think that it is naive to ask them to undo three centuries of cultural and political as well as religious bonds with the Wahhabis in an instant.

If we agree that SA is the primary funding source of terror, the primary origin of many of the terrorists, and the biggest source of problems regarding Wahhabi fanaticism in the ME, then what do you propose Ryan? Marginalize and turn our back on their leadership? Not give them the red carpet treatment? Ignore them?

Please explain how we win a war on terror without the support of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. I would like to understand that. If you want to imply that we should incourage a revolution in Saudi Arabia to supplant the Royal Family, hmmm, seems that is what our good friend OBL wants too. What kind of revolution are they gonna have there? Nice pro-Western folks running things and thinking like enlightened New England Liberals? Nope, probably radical Islamic Fundamentalists would take charge.

Sometimes you don't like your allies real well. Hell, we know we didn't like Stalin in WWII. But we had to work with him since the alternative was for him to work against us. I think Chirac is a POS, but we still treat him like a dignitary not like a prostitute for Saddam's oil money. Abdullah controls the largest oil exporting nation on the planet and is a key ally in the war on terror. To hear Ryan talk, we should tell him to go F himself.

Posted by Ryan at May 1, 2005 12:34 PM ET:

Stalin was a communist and a repressive leader but there was never any question about him helping Hitler. So in that case, an enemy of an enemy was a friend. But are the Saudis really enemies of Al Qaeda? Maybe. Maybe not.

I don't think the Saudis should be given the red carpet treatment at all. I think they should be treated skeptically like Putin is treated. They should be scorned sometimes in public like Putin is and their behavior should be analyzed in the forefront like Putin as well. They control oil but a lot of other nations do too. Canada and Russia have a great deal of oil and are not Wahhabis and there's a lot of oil in Alaska too (I do support drilling but it is only going to a short-term solution). If it came down to having to deal with semi-democratic Russia or the Sauds, I'd rather deal with Russia. Hybrid cars are also coming onto the market with superb gas mileage and I'm definitely going to buy one. I think hybrid cars are going to be one of the best ways to defeat terrorism. If everyone bought a hybrid, it would cut significantly into Saudi as well as Iranian business.

Posted by Justin B at May 1, 2005 3:28 PM ET:

Hitler Stalin sign non-aggression pact

On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact - an agreement which stunned the major powers of the world. Both nations were on the opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, but found that their union could be highly beneficial.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, sometimes called the Hitler-Stalin pact, was signed in Moscow by the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. However, while the pact was announced as a non-aggression treaty, a secret appendix partitioned Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence. Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Bessarabia were to fall under the sway of the Soviets. In addition, Poland was to be diveded along the rivers Narev, San, and Vistula - with eastern Poland going to the Soviet Union and Germany occupying the remainder. Barely a week after the signing, Germany invaded Poland (September 1) and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's call for "Peace in our time" was officially dead.

Yep, never any question of Stalin helping Hitler... well, never any question among folks like Chamberlain. When you see India and Iran signing treaties, I think you see the point. Surely the Saudis could do more to help the US, but just as surely they can do a lot more to help Al Qaeda. We know that Hitler turned on Russia in the 1940's, but what if he had not attacked Russia? You still think we could win the War if Russia and Hitler were cooperating?

Whether you like Putin more or not, we have seen Putin's support for the war on terror in full display in the United Nations. We have seen what kind of ally he has been to us during the WOT. He is trying to save his own skin and besides, Russia has their own terrorist problems to deal with. They have proven to be a poor ally at best and if you would rather trust Russia, so be it. We are not talking about who our friends should be in the world, but rather who our allies should be in the War on Terror. Russia has proven that they are not our ally in the WOT, however, the House of Saud ABSOLUTELY MUST BE OUR ALLY for us to succeed.

Russia is not the breeding ground and the funding source of Wahhabi terror. So what good does giving Putin the red carpet treatment do towards stopping the flow of Saudi terror? How can you even talk apples and oranges when comparing the two?

I know that films like Farenheit 9-11 and the other Liberal propoganda paint Saudi Arabia as the biggest evil in the world, but let's face the facts here... they can either be with us or against us and Bush is doing all that he can to ensure that we give them the carrot, not the stick. They are an important ally and it makes no sense to punish the Saudis or treat them like crap when we clearly need their help to stop terrorism worldwide.

Posted by Rod Stanton at May 1, 2005 8:23 PM ET:

It seems to me I agree with Ryan. The problem in Iraq is not the people who live there it is the foreigh troops that are fighting there. Will the western allies send enough troops to win or will the Muslims send enough to win? Money is not a problem for the muslims. Remember the folks that snuck into America for the 911 attacks were all well to do or rich. This weeks high level of destruction and killings shows they have more than enough ordnance.
From my expericence it seems we are not killing enough.They do their attacks get away and then come back later and do it again, dead men can not hurt you or your allies.

Posted by frogman at May 1, 2005 8:55 PM ET:

regarding ryan comment #2: about 20% of the german population died in ww2 before they decided not to support the nazi regime. how many sunnis died? obviously not enough-- of course they long for their cushy previous life.

Posted by Ryan at May 2, 2005 12:27 PM ET:

Rod Stanton:

Exactly,
The most important thing that is critical to win this war is to find a way to cut off the flow of foreign fighters. If this happens, the Baathists that are still fighting will eventually tire out. Most of the Sunnis still fighting now are probably out to avenge something. Avenging family members, etc. is very common in Arab societies.

The problem is that the surrounding nations are not allies. Syria and Iran are both active supporters of terror and the Saudis
are complicit in every aspect of it. The only significant American ally in the Middle East other than Israel is Jordan. I'm not suggesting a Bush-Saudi conspiracy like Farenheit 9/11. I'm suggesting that the Saudis are playing both sides of the war on terror because it is in their interests to do so. They would probably be happy to see wackos leave their country and go fight in Iraq so they don't have to deal with them. If the Saudis were to put in their best effort to cut the flow of fighters to Iraq, progress could be made much quicker. A carrot and stick approach could then be used with the Syrians to do the same thing.