Impossible to Cripple What You Can’t Define

Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled
Many Officials, However, Warn Of Its Resilience

By Thomas E. Ricks and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 15, 2007; A01

The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.

But as the White House and its military commanders plan the next phase of the war, other officials have cautioned against taking what they see as a premature step that could create strategic and political difficulties for the United States. Such a declaration could fuel criticism that the Iraq conflict has become a civil war in which U.S. combat forces should not be involved. At the same time, the intelligence community, and some in the military itself, worry about underestimating an enemy that has shown great resilience in the past.



This not being the Super-Bowl, speaking of ‘crippling al-Qaeda’ is much like Democrats laying claim to having crippled the Republicans in the 2006 mid-term election.

It’s a huge and continuing mistake to use sports metaphor in what has come to be a deadly conflict of political and religious philosophy. Al-Qaeda is merely a name for a punishing state of mind in an Islamic minority.

How does one cripple that? Ever.

* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Middle East, check out

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