LEAVING IRAQ….Marc Lynch makes two good points today. First, he explains why committing to a firm withdrawal plan is probably our last hope of achieving even marginal success in Iraq:

The insurgents have made it pretty clear in a series of public statements and private communications that they’re willing to start talking and dampen down the violence if the United States commits to withdrawing from Iraq….But everything hinges on the United States making a commitment to withdraw — politically, they can’t and won’t get in the political game without that because it would destroy their credibility and because, frankly, getting the United States out really matters to them. But there’s a window here that I’m afraid we’re going to let close because of domestic politics.

Second, he observes that at the same time that al-Qaeda as an organization is losing support in the Muslim world, its jihadist clash-of-civilizations worldview is gaining support. The reason is Iraq:

When you get these attacks in Algeria and Morocco, it repels people rather than attracting them. But the paradox is that even as Al Qaeda repels people with its actions, its core ideas are becoming more widely accepted, and that’s really troubling, and a real indictment of American public diplomacy. That’s also why the situation in Iraq is so devastating at the wider regional and global level. Killing people in Morocco and Algeria triggers a negative reaction, but fighting Americans in Iraq resonates with a much wider part of the Arab population.

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