Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Voting With Their Feet

RELATED UPDATES: here and here

As previously detailed--and despite harassment by left-wing unionized teachers--America's military continues to meet or exceed its active duty and reserve forces recruiting targets. Yes, some services have waived standards for some recruits--but the overall affect on force quality remains modest.

Naturally, the media misleads: an editorial in Sunday's LA Times warned that in 2006, "the percentage of Army recruits who were high school graduates (82%) was the lowest since 1981." Sounds bad, right? The paper failed to mention that the same year, only 82 percent of the general population were high school graduates, meaning the Army resembled America as a whole. And the other services exceeded Army standards--through 2005, almost 95 percent of Navy and Marine, and over 99 percent of Air Force, enlisted recruits graduated from high school. But few in the MSM equate the Army to civilian America or focus on the talent still flowing to the other service branches. (Last year, the percentage of H.S. grad Army recruits slipped to 79 percent; through 2005, Army enlisted recruits were somewhat better educated than civilians of the same age.)

Remember how the Iraq invasion was said to be a bonanza for terrorist recruiting? Well recruiting remains strong in America, while Strategy Page reports Al Qaeda can't fill slots for new terrorists:
The sharp drop in suicide bombings in Iraq is partly due to the decline in foreign al Qaeda volunteers coming into Iraq. The recruiting, mostly in Saudi Arabia and North Africa, preys on the unique social conditions in those areas. Namely, high birth rates and high unemployment. This produces a lot of younger sons who are unemployed, unmarried and face a dim future. So the al Qaeda recruiter, often working out of a local mosque, makes a free trip to Iraq, ending in a glorious death for the cause, sound like a solution. But over the last year, the number of such volunteers has declined from 120 a month, to about 40. The main reason for this is bad news, and some survivors, coming back from Iraq. Not many of these losers make it back, but the word gets on to the Internet, and this has caused quite a commotion on pro-terrorist web sites and message boards. There's also been a sharp drop in pro-terrorist combat videos coming out of Iraq. This is largely due to the death or capture of the people responsible for getting those videos onto the Internet.
Remember 2001 when Osama Bin Laden called America "a weak horse" incapable, or unwilling, to fight for Western civilization? Well, even Bin Laden and Al Qaeda admit the Administration won the bet, as Peter Wehner details in the March 5th Financial Times :
[I]n large measure because of what is unfolding in Iraq, the tide within the Islamic world is beginning to run strongly against al-Qaeda -- and this, in turn, may be the single most important ideological development in recent years.

In November 2007 Sayyid Imam al-Sharif ("Dr Fadl") published his book, Rationalizations on Jihad in Egypt and the World, in serialised form. Mr. Sharif, who is Egyptian, argues that the use of violence to overthrow Islamic governments is religiously unlawful and practically harmful. . .

Another important event occurred in October 2007, when Sheikh Abd Al-‘Aziz bin Abdallah Aal Al-Sheikh, the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, issued a fatwa prohibiting Saudi youth from engaging in jihad abroad. It states: "I urge my brothers the ulama [the top class of Muslim clergy] to clarify the truth to the public . . . to warn [youth] of the consequences of being drawn to arbitrary opinions and [religious] zeal that is not based on religious knowledge." The target of the fatwa is obvious: Mr. bin Laden.

A month earlier Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, an influential Saudi cleric whom Mr. bin Laden once lionised, wrote an "open letter" condemning Mr. bin Laden. "Brother Osama, how much blood has been spilt? How many innocents among children, elderly, the weak, and women have been killed and made homeless in the name of al-Qaeda?" Sheikh Awdah wrote. "The ruin of an entire people, as is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq ... cannot make Muslims happy."

These criticisms by prominent voices within the jihadist movement should be seen in the context of an even more significant development: the "Anbar Awakening" now spreading throughout Iraq. Just 18 months ago Anbar province was the stronghold of al-Qaeda in Iraq; today it is known as the birthplace of an Iraqi and Islamic grass-roots uprising against al-Qaeda as an organisation and bin Ladenism as an ideology. It is an extraordinary transformation: Iraqis en masse siding with America, the "infidel" and a western "occupying power", to defeat Islamic militants.

Not surprisingly, al-Qaeda’s stock is falling in much of the Arab and Islamic world. A recent survey found that in January less than a quarter of Pakistanis approved of Mr. bin Laden, compared with 46 per cent last August, while backing for al-Qaeda fell from 33 per cent to 18 per cent. . .

The percentage of Muslims saying suicide bombing is justified in the defence of Islam has declined in seven of the eight Arab countries where trend data are available. In Lebanon, for example, 34 per cent of Muslims say such suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified; in 2002, 74 per cent expressed this view. We are also seeing large drops in support for Mr. bin Laden. These have occurred since the Iraq war began.

Since General David Petraeus put in place his counter-insurgency strategy early last year, al-Qaeda has been dealt punishing military blows. Iraqis continue to turn against al-Qaeda and so does more of the Arab and Muslim world. In the past half-year an important new front, led by prominent Islamic clerics, has been opened. Militarily, ideologically and in terms of popular support, these are bad days for Mr. bin Laden and his jihadist jackals.
All this is well known--except among Democrats, as Wehner observes:
The US "surge" in Iraq has been so manifestly successful that no serious person can deny that gains have been made. Even Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have (grudgingly) conceded progress. Yet both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama are quick to add that progress has been purely on the military side and that those gains are ephemeral. This fits with their broader narrative -- that the war has been a disaster on every front.

During a recent Democratic debate, for example, Mr. Obama declared: "We are seeing al-Qaeda stronger now than at any time since 2001." Mrs. Clinton says President George W. Bush’s policies in Iraq have "emboldened our enemies". We should leave Iraq, she says, so we can better focus on the threat of al-Qaeda.
Powerline's Paul Mirengoff excoriates Obama:
This may reflect the counsel he's getting from Zbigniew Brzezinski, Lawrence Korb, and Samantha Power. However, with Sunnis in Iraq siding en masse siding with the American “infidel” and “occupying power” to purge al Qaeda and with prominent Islamic clerics throughout the region following suit, Obama's view bears no apparent relation to reality.
Hillary's flip-flopping on the surge's effectiveness is no better; worse yet, she cites the success as reason to withdraw. We've seen this movie before.

Though Democrats chained to and MSM cheerleaders can't admit it, the situation in Iraq is simple. Our recruiting throttled Al Qaeda's--so we're winning.

(via Instapundit)

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