Another problem with Charles Krauthamer's appraisal of the Iraq situation (see my first post here), and one that seems to occur regularly with Iraq War pundits, is the assumption that the Iraqi insurgency is equivalent to, or largely overlaps with, Al Qaeda.
Why? Because, as Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, the Australian counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, has written, 14 of the 18 tribal leaders in Anbar have turned against al Qaeda. As a result, thousands of Sunni recruits are turning up at police stations where none could be seen before. For the first time, former insurgent strongholds such as Ramadi have a Sunni police force fighting essentially on our side.
Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a major critic of the Bush war policy, now reports that in Anbar, al Qaeda is facing “a real and growing groundswell of Sunni tribal opposition.” And that “this is a crucial struggle and it is going our way—for now.”
Amongst pro-war pundits, there often seem to be statements that the Iraqis are rejecting Al Qaeda or something to that effect, with the implication that doing so puts them either on our side or at least away from being violently opposed to us.
This doesn't seem to make sense to me, as Al Qaeda, even if it is the greatest threat to the U.S. of any of the terrorist organizations, is not, as far as I can tell, the major contributor towards violence in Iraq. While people turning away from Al Qaeda is a good thing, I don't think that it should be seen as a sign of any major success in the mission of Iraqi pacification.
As for the increased Sunni police recruitment, this could be a mixed blessing, depending on whether the they wish to fight on our side as Krauthammer suggests, or just to have a police force to try and keep up with the Shiites.
That is all.