January 9, 2005

The New Stalingrad

The more hysterical doom-mongers among us predicted Baghdad would become the new Stalingrad. Obviously it did not…except in a way it did, sort of.

Terry Barnich explains in Tech Central Station:
In [Osama bin Laden’s] newest tape he has demanded that Iraqis refrain from voting in the upcoming elections and has declared those who do exercise the franchise to be apostates. In effect he has confirmed that what is really going on is an Islamic civil war. Bin Laden's vision of a restored caliphate and a resurrection of Saddam's fascistic absolutism are at war with acceptance of the need to reconcile Islam to modernity.

In contrast, Ayad Allawi, the interim Iraqi prime minister, believes in consent of the governed. There is no in between in that struggle. And on that score the issue should now be settled for Americans of all stripes.

It may once have been correct to claim that Iraq was not strategically significant. But neither were the fields at Waterloo, Gettysburg or Stalingrad until the contending armies met in those places. By accident or political design, insignificant places become enduring historical names. How strange that in his own twisted way bin Laden would align with Bush on the strategic importance of Iraq in waging this civil war.
UPDATE: Let me put it another way, inspired by a discussion in the comments. If the US had invaded, say, Bolivia - Osama bin Laden would have completely ignored it. And those who would have claimed invading Bolivia had nothing to do with the Terror War would have been correct.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2005 11:46 PM

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