Saturday, March 01, 2003


(From New York Times)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 1 — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, suspected of planning the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington and one of the F.B.I.'s most wanted terrorists, was detained by Pakistani authorities this morning and is now in American custody, officials said.

...(several paragraphs skipped)

American officials confirmed that Mr. Mohammed was in United States custody and had been taken to an undisclosed location outside Pakistan.

...(several more paragraphs omitted)

Of all Qaeda agents and leaders captured since the Sept. 11 attacks, he may be the most important and is certainly the most feared.

Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

The war on terror seems to be going rather well lately. And Steven Den Beste has gotten me thinking. I still wouldn't invade Iraq if it were up to me - but if the United States does so, I desperately want to see it work out well in the long run.

Nobody can guarantee a war will be quick - but somehow after Afghanistan I feel less worried about that than other things. It doesn't sound like we're going to try to occupy them without enough troops to do the job either. If Al Qaeda is really on the ropes, maybe we don't have to assume a series of successful attacks on American troops being used to constantly recruit more attackers, feeding into a viscious cycle. It could still happen - a largely Arabic organization in an Arabic speaking country has got to be better there than elsewhere - but after this victory the chance is lessened.

I still think we should be getting off to a running start with the representatives of the various ethnic groups there. I'm not quite sure where the administration stands on Turkey now. Some might even see the Turkish refusal to base our troops as an opportunity to give more to the Kurds. If so it has to be done carefully. I read recently that Kirkuk, the city the Iraqi Kurds want to claim, is not a Kurdish majority city - and they are not well disposed towards the other groups there. Destabalizing Turkey won't help stablize the middle east either. Of course the Turkish could still support us.

Like the Kurds, the Shia are accustomed to Saddam's bloddy iron fist, and will not be deterred by the threat of a few deaths, or even a few thousand. It may well be their first question about American occupiers will be "Are they willing to slaughter a few thousand civilians?" - and that they will dismiss them if the answer is no. On the other hand, American troops shooting lynch mobs on their way to slit the throats of Sunni Muslims may well increase American support for whatever violent measures may prove necessary.

Although I believe in planning for the worst, I somehow find myself convinced enough that the invasion itself will go successfully that I must leave that part to others. I still find myself amply able to worry about the occupation itself to hold my end up there though. Comparisons to Japan and Germany keep coming to mind. Remember that the entire group of Axis powers was defeated before the rebuilding began - and they had nowhere to turn to for help and support in resisting the occupation. Iraq will be in the middle of a sea of countries with support for each major ethnic or religious group available somewhere or other.

No comments: