In his recent speech, President Bush credited the surge for improved conditions in el Anbar province and announced a plan to leave troops in Iraq indefinitely. He supports this decision by pointing to the success we've experienced in having Sunni fighters ally with American troops to respond to the violent attacks by al Qaeda terrorists, aka al qaeda in Iraq or AQI, as their baseball caps will read.
The president is, however, ignoring a crucial component of the formula. Creating and maintaining American/Sunni unity requires the continuing threat of AQI, without which we're in danger of the Sunnis reverting to their anti-American hostilities. Our surge, without a parallel AQI surge, would, therefore, be likely to fail.
How can we be sure of AQI's commitment to staying in Iraq? What if they decide it's too hot or they're not getting enough TV exposure and take their bombs elsewhere? They're just as happy trying to kill people in London or Madrid. The reality is we need them in Iraq -- more than they need us. And we'll be even more dependent on their presence once we feel confident about el Anbar province and start looking to branch out and team up with yet more Sunni and Sh'ia in other parts of the country.
Clearly, we can't recruit AQI, and I wouldn't count on Craigslist in Baghdad as a resource for rounding up jihadists, which is why I've come up with a proposal to maintain the Qaeda quota in Iraq. America has somewhere between 400 and 1100 terrorists (thought to be al Qaeda, al Qaeda-light or some variety of wanabees) tucked away in Guantanamo. There's probably not a lot of current intelligence to be gotten from them, so we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by releasing them and deploying them to Iraq to replenish the diminishing AQI.
Our prisoners are from some 40 countries. For many it would be their first trip to Iraq, the equivalent of the Birthright program for American Jews who've never visited Israel. Surely our captives will be excited by this opportunity to travel. After years of having medicine withheld and prayers interrupted by guards, along with the indignities of being photographed nude and tormented by dogs, they'll surely be pissed off enough to stir up trouble, which is precisely what we need. Plus, with the CIA having just ruled out water boarding, the guards must be having considerably less fun with the prisoners, who will be far more useful to us in Iraq these days than they are in Guantanamo.
But we should move on this quickly before more of them commit suicide.