Jihadism Defeating Itself? Ctd.

An interesting piece on the collapse of al Qaeda in Iraq. No one should take away from Petraeus' tactical genius, but the nutjobs of the Jihadist fringe certainly knew how to injure themselves. They key was over-reach. They killed too many sympathetic civilians, and their surreal announcement of a new Caliphate forced even supporters to roll their eyes:

This defeat was not as sudden as it appeared to be, and some Islamic terrorist web sites have been discussing the problem for several years. The primary cause has beenĀ  Moslems killed as a side effect of attacks on infidel troops, Iraqi security forces and non-Sunnis. Al Qaeda plays down the impact of this, calling the Moslem victims "involuntary martyrs." But that's a minority opinion. Most Moslems, and many other Islamic terrorists, see this as a surefire way to turn the Moslem population against the Islamic radicals. That's what happened earlier in Algeria, Afghanistan, Egypt and many other places. It's really got nothing to do with religion. The phenomenon hits non-Islamic terrorists as well (like the Irish IRA and the Basque ETA).

Maybe this will be history's judgment of the last few years: both the US and al Qaeda over-reached. But al Qaeda's over-reach was greater. And in this we see why democracies do actually do better in warfare in the long run: because our leaders have to be responsive to the people; because legitimate internal criticism and debate forces course correction and exposes self-defeating hubris. With the Bush administration, this process took much longer than it should have, and the Bushies did all they could to stamp out, rather than hear, criticism. But in the end, democracy adjusts to reality; religious extremism cannot.