The Post gets it wrong:

Here is an update on al Qaeda's war, focused on Iraq. The Post is being a little defeatist about the whole thing. If al Qaeda thinks that Iraq is the perfect place to fight us, they're screwing up in a big way.

AQ can't really hurt the US in Iraq. They can kill some of our soldiers in ambushes and suicide bombings, but probably not as many as they think. Meanwhile, our economic interests in Iraq are minimal--really, the cost of rebuilding and, to a far lesser degree, the market price of oil are the only things they can manipulate. When AQ was fighting an economic war against us, targeting air traffic, airports, and so forth, they had a real chance of beating the US--particularly if they got nuclear/radiological weapons. It appears they've been drawn into a military conflict, and they're not going to win one of those with us.

Meanwhile, the Post misstates two critical points, and leaves out a third. The first is that the bombing in Saudi Arabia didn't just cause a crackdown--it brought into the open a war that's been going on there for more than a year. Those gunbattles they mention are frequent. Saudi security services are no longer feeling like they need to keep things in the shadows, as the people of Arabia were outraged by the bombings there. Meanwhile, the Saudi government is forcing clerics inside Arabia to adopt a new, less militant line, or else.

The point the Post leaves out is that the exact same thing has happened in Morocco. After Casablanca, the media of the country turned anti-terrorist. They are wrapped up in the prosecution and punishment of those involved, and in hunting out their networks both in Morocco and abroad. This has been a source of humiliation for the UK, as London has often been a hub of such groups.

Every time AQ sets off a bomb inside a Muslim country, they poison their own wells. And that gets to the second point that the Post misstates: the Caliphate.

Yes, the Arabs are annoyed with us for occupying the historic seat of the Caliphate. However, not every Muslim is actually interested in the Caliphate. It is particularly the Shi'ites who are concerned with the Caliphate. How many Shi'ites love al Qaeda? Few to start with, since Wahabbis don't consider them real Muslims, nor even one of the protected "children of the book" faiths, but polytheists who should be killed (the reason is that the Wahabbis believe that equating the word of the Caliph with that of Allah is essentially to create a second god). That number has shrunk further since al Qaeda set off a car bomb near the Shrine of Ali. Those foreign fighters that the Post makes so much of are now looking at a reincarnated Badr Brigade which, however much it may be irritated at the Coalition, will delight in killing "Arab foreigners." One more 'victory' like Najaf, and the Badr Brigades will probably just start shooting them on sight.

We've got a rough patch ahead in Iraq, to be sure. The US isn't going to be badly hurt by it, though, as we don't really have anything at stake there. The worst we can do is fail, which would mean some humiliation, additional creeping of that evil thing called International Law, and the deaths of a lot of good men. That's bad--but our society, our economic infrastructure, the largest part of our military might would not be damaged.

Al Qaeda, by constrast, is now committing heavily to trying to fight a military conflict for which it is unsuited; while carrying out bombings that are poisoning its wells; while choosing ground on which to fight where the populace hates them with a passion, is increasingly well armed, and lusting for vengence.