Thursday, September 6, 2007

AQI — the 10 percenters, at best

According to an excellent new article from Washington Monthly, al Qaeda in Iraq makes up — at most — 10 percent of the insurgency there, and quite possibly more like 5-7 percent.

The article notes that, amongst others estimating AQI at 15 percent is the “liberal hawk” we all love to hate, Michael O’Hanlon. The article then logically spills out who else has an investment in hyping AQI numbers:

• Shrub, for obvious reasons;
• Petraeus, ditto (though he’s not mentioned by name, the differing opinion of boots on the ground vs. top brass make this a legitimate inference);
• “Surge” flacks like O’Hanlon;
• Iraqi President Maliki, in part to keep Bush on his good side (see bullet No. 1);
• Ba’athists, who can exploit both actual AQI members and alleged AQI attacks for their own ends;
• Other Sunni insurgents, for reasons similar to the Ba’athists.

Bottom line? Rumsfeld’s intent behind his words aside, AQI is, essentially, dead-enders compared to other insurgency players in Iraq, and it’s dishonest to the American people and the need, or lack thereof, for U.S. troops in Iraq to falsely play up their numbers.