Tilghman on the Myth of al Qaeda in Iraq

Does this surprise anybody? From Andrew Tilghman’s The Myth of AQI:

Having been led astray by flawed prewar intelligence about WMDs, official Washington wants to believe it takes a more skeptical view of the administration’s information now. Yet Beltway insiders seem to be making almost precisely the same mistakes in sizing up al-Qaeda in Iraq.

29 Responses to “Tilghman on the Myth of al Qaeda in Iraq”

  1. NorthernLite Says:

    Excellent piece. I have been saying for awhile now that George W. Bush is the leader of AQI because it was his policies that created them.

    So instead of annihilating Al Qaeda – thee Al Qaeda – his actions created even more members and related offshoots such as AQI.

    And this guy calls himself “the war president” and claims he’s “kicking ass”?

    I wonder if he regrets the “bring it on” statement made a few years back. Because boy, they sure did bring it.

  2. TeacherVet Says:

    Interestingly, in the tape released yesterday, bin Laden tells us that his (al Qaeda) fighters are duty bound to “escalate the fighting and killing against you” in Iraq, adding that “I’ve killed thousands of your people…” He leaves no doubt that Al Qaeda in Iraq is “thee Al Qaeda.”

  3. NorthernLite Says:

    Do you beleive there were Al Qaeda members in Iraq before 2003/4?

  4. ymatt Says:

    And since when did we start listening to anything bin Laden says as anything but statements calculated to serve his ends? Did you expect him to be like: “I’d just like to point out that al Qaeda in Iraq isn’t *technically* under my control, but, heh, they’re shooting you guys up pretty good.”

  5. shcb Says:

    There weren’t Japanese in China nor Germans in France prior to WWII, so what’s the point, they want to kill us and don’t want a democracy in their part of the world so they went there to fight us. They could have stayed home in AlQuaedaland, I wonder what the weather is like in Alquaedaland this time of year. Supposedly the AlQuaedalanders hated Sadam anyway, at least that is what I have heard many times, don’t know how true it is. It seems they would be pleased for us to defeat him. But there is that old enemy of my enemy is my friend concept rearing its ugly head again

    We could have gone to the Philippians to kill Al Qaeda, Alquaedaland has many bases there, but there wasn’t evidence of WMD programs, wait a minute, we did go the Philippines and kill them, damn that multitasking.

  6. knarlyknight Says:

    And the Japanese in China and Germans in France did not invade to drive the Americans out. Your analogies are transparent grasps at loose straw.

  7. ymatt Says:

    You know what, maybe shcb is right:

    This is the defining struggle of our generation, and we as a nation need to put all our resources and rhetoric behind winning it. Because we must live in fear of death by terrorist attack on a daily basis, we can’t afford the luxury of a free and open society, so I’m willing to give up some of my constitutional protections during the duration of this war of indefinite length. We might even want to consider the draft. Just as we defeated the enormous invading mechanized armies of fascism, we will defeat the diffuse and opportunistic, but equally threatening terrorists of islamo-fascism (and practically speaking most of the people over there are at least partially believers in that philosophy, so collateral damage shouldn’t sadden us too much) in the middle east. American-style republican democracy will flower in victory’s wake, with Iraq serving as a close American ally, sending us uncontested supplies of oil and slowly converting to christianity and giving up their in-born desire to overrun the world. Only then will we be safe once more. All of the political analysts, regional experts, local polls, generals, and world leaders who say otherwise are to be ignored, because they all fundamentally either hate America or don’t understand the historical fact that this is just like WWII and Viet Nam (since those same anti-Americans are the only ones who think Viet Nam was a mistake). 9/11 proved that, but maybe you didn’t see the pictures of a giant hole in the ground in New York today.

    Oh wait, no, I was wrong. That’s complete insanity.

  8. enkidu Says:

    what ymatt said

    complete farkin insanity

  9. shcb Says:

    Yup, that is the debate. That only slightly exaggerates my position. You think I am dangerously insane and I think you are dangerously infatuated with peace at all costs, both exaggerations of course. We are destined for a long rollercoaster ride of them attacking us, the population whose views are more centrist will join with me giving us the moral authority to respond to those attacks in kind, then you will gain the upper hand as people tire and the whole cycle will resume.

    The only way to stop this cycle is to either surrender or defeat them decisively.

  10. NorthernLite Says:

    “moral authority” lol. That was a good one!

  11. knarlyknight Says:

    NL, indeed, lol. too bad shcb won’t understand.

    This thread proves the the “black and white” (“either this or that”) rigid and non-nuanced thinking of conservatives as jbc posted on his Sept 11 “Free Food” post … a brain configuration which prevents rwnj’s like shcb from having any inkling of the possibility of a more enlightened approach or any such concepts, such as that provided by Colin Powell in ymatt’s Sept 11 Post “Powel the ‘Former Everything’ Talks Reality” and highlighted by enkidu’s comment.

    Since you have stated:

    No I didn’t watch any of the videos or read the long cut and paste, was there anything important there?

    I can state that I have not read the arcane law that you have referenced (since the various legal interpretations and commentary on their implications that I have seen are more than sufficient).

    You have also stated:

    Your points as usual are rubbish my good man, pure rubbish.

    which is an inherently illegitimate statement because you have admitted your complete willful ignorance about the references that support my points.

    Therefore I can state with authority that your points shcb as usual are rubbish my good man, pure rubbish.

  12. shcb Says:

    The law isn’t arcane, it was written during the Clinton administration for the purpose of dealing with terrorism, and it was passed by congress, it wasn’t an executive order.

    I don’t read some of your stuff because you throw so much out there, slow down a bit make one point with a little backup information and don’t always try and sneak in a 911 conspiracy video and I may just read and watch everything you put out there

    But you are essentially right about the black and white, I prefer to reduce problems to the smallest number of possibilities pick a course based on that limited number, act on that course, reevaluate at some point, reduce the number of possibilities, and so on. I find taking the “enlightened” path of considering everything all the time tends to paralyze your decision making, then nothing gets accomplished.

  13. knarlyknight Says:

    You mean accomplish something like this?


  14. knarlyknight Says:

    Or accomplishments like you have achieved in Iraq, where you rushed in (after a black / white decision based on WRONG information) without answering the most important questions:

    (article by Terrell E. Arnold – a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US Department of State whose immediate pre-retirement positions were as Chairman of the Department of International Studies of the National War College and as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency Planning.)
    www dot rense dot com/general78/iraw.htm


    Why are we there? Having riffled through a card-shuffling panoply of reasons, all of which have been abandoned or discredited, the Bush administration clings to them anyway. Finding no weapons of mass destruction or even any substantial military capabilities, the Bush team settled for just getting rid of Saddam Hussein. In retrospect, there are literally millions of people in the region- not all of them Iraqis-who think that was a poor idea.

    Why do we stay? The superficial reason currently given is in two parts. One is to keep the Iraqi people from destroying themselves. As the Iraqis descend ever more deeply into civil war and self- destruction, that rationale becomes less and less credible. Since our troops constantly attack anybody who fights back against the American presence, we end up flitting from one side to another in the civil war, while that war itself shows little sign of abatement. The second leg of this rationale is to make Iraq free of terrorism. Since we have defined any Iraqi who resists the American occupation as a terrorist, Iraq has filled up with terrorists since Saddam was deposed. That our occupation and we are the ultimate terrorism generators in Iraq is presently beyond dispute.

  15. shcb Says:

    Yes this campaign in Iraq is good example of how to accomplish something in this manner. We went into Iraq in a traditional invasion posture and captured the country rather easily. The enemy then changed tactics to the IED explosive triggered by a cell phone, our trucks and light vehicles were not prepared for this weapon and losses on our side were high, we adjusted our tactics by improving armor and developing equipment and methods of dealing with threats safely, the enemy then started using more powerful bombs, we have changed tactics again. The enemy was playing a soft defense and allowing us to take sections of the city, we would move on, the enemy would fill in behind us. Now the surge, another change in tactics, has allowed us to take sections of the city and hold them as we move on.

    The same thing has happened in the political realm as well, we have had ups and downs, we are in a neutral period now. But the surge is helping move certain aspects of the political spectrum in a positive direction on a local level.

    You are watching this long process happen, you are witnessing history. Are there going to be losses, sure, are there going to be setbacks and disappointments, sure. But you have to endure those to make positive progress, this is true in any aspect of human endevor. If we didn’t move forward we would simply go into that defensive posture I have talked about at length and nothing would get accomplished, of course if your goal is a tie, that would be success. But my goal for success is victory.

  16. knarlyknight Says:

    See, the thing is that shcb has no comprehension of how the aggregate totality that America (and the world) has already lost, due to America’s attack on Iraq, mishandling of and continued occupation in pursuit of some sort of victory, far exceeds the value of what America (and/or the world) could ever now gain. Despite enormous macrocosmic sunk costs, and staggering on-going marginal costs to deal with the realities of the now long-term illegal occupation of Iraq you have rwnj’s using idiotic and patronizing slogans like “my goal for success is victory.” Obviously the full specrum of disorder that the current American regime has ignited is far beyond shcb’s comprehension, and even more obvious is that he did not read and has not a clue about the content of Tighman’s “The Myth of AQI” article or even its concluding paragraphs. shcb def.: n. a freakin rwnj mouthpiece.

  17. knarlyknight Says:

    btw, jbc – haven’t seen a graph for a while…



  18. shcb Says:

    I scanned the Tilghman piece, it seems he spent 8 pages calling Bush a liar, I can see why you like him Knarly. So he doesn’t think there are as many Al Qaeda as Bush says there are, but no one seems to know how many people are fighting on their side, estimates vary from 30 to 200k? glad they don’t figure my taxes. Doesn’t keep him from criticizing using stats he admits are from dubious sources. This is a good example of what we have been talking about, Bush (and I) lump them all together and call them Islamofascists you guys bitch, we lump them together and call them Al Qaeda, you guys bitch, this character spends eight pages describing the same group of people and he is the second most intelligent individual on the planet, Greenwald is in class by himself of course. But we’re all talking about the same group of people, conservatives just had this discussion several years ago, simplified the description of who we are fighting and moved on, but you big brained guys with all your nuances are still trying to figure out who hates us, in the meantime we have gone about the business of killing them, you know accomplishing something.

  19. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb has an absolute total inability to comprehend damage done.

    Killing = accomplishment? Lock the fucker up right now.

  20. shcb Says:

    it’s how you win a war

  21. knarlyknight Says:

    wrong again.

  22. shcb Says:

    ok, I’ll bite, how do you win a war?

  23. TeacherVet Says:

    Talk sweetly to them. If that fails, two options: Have John Edwards sue them, or trust the UN to pass a non-binding resolution. Problem solved. The enemy will then go home to their families.

  24. knarlyknight Says:

    Most battles are won by killing as many of your enemy as possible or damaging their infrastructures, while minimizing your own losses. Some battles, often the most important ones, involve little if any killing.

    Wars are won by picking the right battles to win.

    If you think you have won a racial or clash of civilizations type of war because you have waged many battles and killed most of your opponents, you are likely being foolish as those who remain will usually redouble efforts to wage another war (ten years, twenty years or a hundred years later) that will bring the victor to its knees.

    to paraphrase Sun tzu – best to take the enemy whole, incorporate them and their differences into a combined better and greater new world. (Yes, “he” was in large measure full of crap, but he had his moments…)

  25. shcb Says:


    It’s all so clear now, thanks.


    I believe that is what we are trying to do, but you have to pull the weeds if you want the grass under them to grow, once it does the grass will keep the weeds down.

  26. knarlyknight Says:

    Your analogy needs a little work, shcb:

    instead of “pull theinsert “drop 300 lb bombs on the

    instead of “the grass under them to grow” insert “to control trillions of dollars in oil wealth and establish permanent military bases

    instead of “once it does the grass will” insert “once you have that monetary control and those permanent strategic bases in place, that should be enough to support a never ending war to

    There, now I think you have it, moran.

  27. shcb Says:

    Knarley, you’ve overstated my position a bit but you’re on the right track.

  28. knarlyknight Says:

    okay, we understand each other. Now can we finally stop arguing and figure out how you and me are going to get a share of that oil revenue flowing into our respective personal bank accounts?

  29. shcb Says:

    we’ll just have to settle for reasonable prices or buy stock I’m afraid. Actually my son in law works for Conoco, so I’m banking on a better than average nursing home, that’s the best I can do.

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