A shorter slog?

Military analyst Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests that victory in Iraq may be “closer than most Americans dare to hope.” Echoing the views of Stratfor, a private intelligence service, Kelly bases his optimism on the recent unsuccessful attack on American convoys in Samarra, a small town in the Sunni triangle. Because seeking a standup fight with the U.S. military is “a stupid thing to do,” Stratfor speculates that the attacks were motivated by desperation:
“The Iraqi guerrillas realize they are running out of time. The U.S.-Kurdish-Shiite alliance is becoming operational and the guerrillas’ read of the political landscape is that they are about to be caught between a rock and a hard place. In addition, the guerrillas understand that their resources are limited and that attrition, over time, plays against them. . . The Viet Cong were able to take horrendous casualties and keep on fighting mostly because of an endless supply of reinforcements from North Vietnam. There is no North Vietnam to back up Saddam, and the Baathist remnant is much less popular among Iraqis than the Viet Cong were among the Vietnamese. Though small-scale infiltration into Iraq by al-Qaida types is impossible to prevent, there is no way for the guerrillas to replace the bulk of their losses with new recruits, and there is no way that such new recruits as can be found will possess the skills of those killed or captured.”
This analysis may read more into one attack than is warranted. As Kelly acknowledges, there is an alternative explanation for the attack on the convoy — that the guerillas were feeling confident after killing so many Americans in November. Or the attack may have taken place for no thought-out reason. My guess is that, while the guerillas do feel some justified desperation, the Samarra attack more be more like “the end of the beginning” than “the beginning of the end.”

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