How odd (or to be expected) that suddenly intelligence agencies, analysts, journalists, and terrorists themselves are attesting that al-Qaeda is in near ruins, that ideologically radical Islam is losing its appeal, and that terrorist incidents against Americans at home and abroad outside the war zones are at an all-time low—and yet few associate the radical change in fortune in Iraq as a contributory cause to our success.Of course such an acknowledgement is not within the normal media narrative.
See, the application of military force is not supposed to "fix" anything. Over the course of history, more questions of international relations have been solved by the application of military force than diplomacy. Whether we have "evolved" beyond that point as a liberal (small "l") democracy is a matter of persepctive. But the U.S. military operations in Iraq and to a lesser extent Afghanistan have made it clear that if you are a terrorist, your days are numbered.
We are also looking, to a certain extent, at a question of demographics. Has anyone else noticed the increase in the number of female suicide bombers? Perhaps young Islamic men have learned that there is a decidedly short life span as a jihadist. If the American's don't kill you, your own leaders want them to sacrifice their lives for some "greater" cause that the young jihadist will not be around to experience. Like it or not, it is not just Americans with a sense of immediate self-centeredness and self-gratification.
That the U.S. military or the Bush Administration is not given credit is no surprise. The military enjoys a relatively low stature amoung the media elites and Bush Administration even lower. While the immediate criticism is real and substantial, the long vision of history is likely to look very differently upon the Bush Administration.
The use of military force has bought time, time for the first liberal democracy to take hold in Iraq and the Arab world. Once a people have a taste for democracy, there is very little that can satisfy that "jonesing" than another, more powerful dose of democracy. Is the Maliki government a great one? No, but it is a decent attempt and the Iraqis will only get better at picking a government going forward. It will be a long hard road, but at least they are now on the road and that is just as important.