And now that they have been defeated in Iraq — anyone saying otherwise is either clueless or being purposely mendacious — America has in fact achieved something far greater than a military victory: America's soldiers have smashed the nascent state of the caliphate; the dream is no more. This is a fate far worse than death for the jihadists, who enthusiastically embrace dying for their cause of resurrecting an Islamic empire as a noble act of martyrdom. Should Mr. bin Laden be killed or captured, then he would remain an undiminished hero in their eyes; while Americans may think that this would count as victory, the jihadists may simply shrug it off. However, seeing their state collapse in Iraq is their own nadir of demoralization and ideological defeat.But it's not a happy column. Unlike Obama and Foster, Kazimi doesn't think the next front will be Afganistan; the jihadists are heading for Europe,
I wonder if Mr. Obama understands all of that. Keeping troops in Iraq is not an end unto itself, yet victory is. Stationing more troops than are necessary to maintain the fruits of victory was never one of America's war aims. Victory is easily defined as having a democratic and independent state of Iraq (check) and preventing another "Islamic State of Iraq" (check).
Prime Minister Maliki recently welcomed Mr. Obama's withdrawal plan with caveats and this sent the usual pundits a-twitter, but whereas Mr. Obama was thinking in terms of retreat, Mr. Maliki on the other hand was suggesting the natural outcome of victory: that America's soldiers, who had fought a hard won yet incidental battle against the ultimate jihadist aim of resurrecting an Islamic Empire, could go home with laurels and to acclaim.
Going back to Afghanistan is an abhorred historical regression, and certainly the pride of the Zarqawists, the most radical and once most successful of the jihadists, will not allow them to hide away in some cave in Waziristan after they had attempted a project as historically grand as the new caliphate in Baghdad. They will come back bigger, deadlier and far more audacious, as is their style, the next time around. Mr. Obama and his European hosts need to update what they think they know about the enemy before the enemy catches its breath.