Taking a Number Two

This weekend, Iraqi and coalition forces announced the capture of the number two man in "al-Qaeda in Iraq." An Iraqi security advisor said, "We believe that al-Qaeda in Iraq suffers from a serious leadership crisis. Our troops have dealt fatal and painful blows to this organization." I doubt that's true, but let's say it is: it doesn't matter. Notice how much things have changed since we killed the number one man in "al-Qaeda in Iraq," al-Zarqawi, this summer? Things have gotten worse; violent deaths have increased. Most estimates are that al-Qaeda is responsible for about 5% of the violence there. Catching this latest number two, Iraq and U.S. officials make him out to be a puppet master wreaking all this havoc, like he's the Iago of Iraq. But this is the first we're hearing of this guy, and it's the last we'll hear of him. These guys are only consequential when we capture them. And we'll hear more about "number twos" who are captured as we get closer to the mid-terms, because the media buys the story that it matters every time. And they buy it because like everybody else, even the U.S. military, they don't know whom we're fighting. "But we're fighting al-Qaeda, the people that struck us on 9/11!" Yeah, but "al-Qaeda in Iraq" didn't exist on 9/11. That's just a name al-Zarqawi adopted because he was media savvy. And "al-Qaeda in Iraq" really does have a media arm in Iraq, and they know what they're doing. "Well, we're fighting the bad people, then!" Yeah, we're fighting the bad people. Nice war.

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