Prediction: it won’t mean a thing

Elements of NRO are very excited about Zarqawi’s death:

“When the history of the global conflict of our time—I call it “the War for the Free World”—is written it seems likely that June 7, 2006, will be seen as an important moment, perhaps even a tipping point, in that war’s Iraqi front.” – Frank Gaffney

“I believe this is a major coup. Zarqawi was the public face of the non-Iraqi side of the insurgency.” – Mackubin Thomas Owens

“Zarqawi’s death is very important at this juncture, for symbolic in addition to operational reasons. Although al Qaeda in Iraq was decentralized, the loss of its prime strategist there will insidiously have long-term repercussions.” – VDH

My prediction is that three months from now, there won’t be any sign that Zarqawi’s death ever happened. There won’t be any significant reduction in attacks, civilian fatalities or US casualties, nor will the pressure to end the Occupation have abated. A hallmark of 4th-generation warfare is its decentralized nature, therefore, taking out one so-called “leader” is unlikely to significantly disrupt anything. Note how the man who actually studies terrorism is markedly less inclined to interpret the killing as an important step, let alone a turning point.

“Zarqawi was a strange character—a thug without a constituency. He was never “part of” al Qaeda, just used it as a cover. His own clan in Jordan was after him; his ideological mentor, Al Maqdissi, criticized him, as did Al Zawahiri. Iraqi Sunni groups hated him—to say nothing about the Shias.” – Michael Radu, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Center on Terrorism and Counter-terrorism.

How can someone be a “leader”, the “prime strategist” and “the public face” of an organization to which he did not belong? This strikes me as far too much ado about a minor success, which only highlights the administration’s weakening position. The insurgency seems to have survived without Hussein & Sons, after all, arguably a far more important loss.