argument, but he resurrected it again (along with one of his more verbose commentators), pairing it with
...absent the war, [intelligence and diplomacy] would be futile, useless, because there would be absolutely no reason for anyone with useful information to cooperate in any way. In fact, there would be a positive disincentive, in that the Islamists will treat informants against them with vicious savagery, while the West would be seen as utterly unable to protect itself, let alone anyone who helped it.The hole in this is obvious: Afghanistan shows that the west will respond, whereas Iraq only shows that they'll attack the wrong guy and do a crap job of it.
Look: these sorts of "analyses" are all essentially drawn from cop shows, so I'll run with it. Going to Iraq to intimidate Al Qaeda is like if a sociopathic drug dealer on a cop show was threatened to cooperate or the cop will shoot the dealer's biggest competitor when his buddy is close at hand, and then manages to shoot himself in the foot to boot! Does anybody honestly think the criminal in question would actually be coerced to cooperate based on that cop's demonstration of bad judgement and incompetence?
Hell, many Iraqis are more intimidated into cooperation with Islamists than they were under Saddam, thanks to the "militia" mobs running around!
(No wonder Atrios mocks his intelligence.)
In any case, the basis of this entire argument is, as always, missing the point that demoralizing potential terrorists isn't enough. There must be two parts to the conflict: one is showing strength, the other showing attractiveness. The west can't just be stronger, because then the Islamic theocrats really will be seeking weakness- it must also be better, so that those on the fence can feel justified in choosing the West's side. It's about soft power as well as hard power. Where these guys err is thinking that somehow America can do whatever it wants and still have its positions and system be attractive.
Sorry, Jeff and co. It just doesn't work like that.