Colin Kahl did a good, pretty wonky post, about how the central front in the battle against al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan and Pakistan the other day. I hadn’t realized, however, that General Petraeus made some news yesterday by kinda sorta saying that Iraq is the central front.
It’s important to note that a more precise version of what he said is that Iraq is still the central front according to al-Qaeda’s leaders, though they may be shifting their rhetorical emphasis. Whether or not that’s the case, the question we need to ask ourselves as Americans is whether we should be letting al-Qaeda’s rhetoric define the battlefield? Progressives say we shouldn’t. The al-Qaeda central leadership, the people who plan and propagandize for violent jihad against the United States, are where they’ve been for years, Central Asia, and we want to take the fight to them. An al-Qaeda offshoot only arose in Iraq in the first place because we invaded there and created an appealing venue in which to try to kill American soldiers and bleed American resources. But our goal should be to seize the initiative and not continue down the bizarre path of Bush-Osama symbiosis that we’ve been on for the past seven years.