August 16, 2007 -- TWO days ago, al Qaeda det onated four massive truck bombs in three Iraqi vil lages, killing at least 250 civilians (perhaps as many as 500) and wounding many more. The bombings were a sign of al Qaeda's frustration, desperation and fear.
The victims were ethnic Kurd Yazidis, members of a minor sect with pre-Islamic roots. Muslim extremists condemn them (wrongly) as devil worshippers. The Yazidis live on the fringes of society.
That's one of the two reasons al Qaeda targeted those settlements: The terrorist leaders realize now that the carnage they wrought on fellow Muslims backfired, turning once-sympathetic Sunni Arabs against them. The fanatics calculated that Iraqis wouldn't care much about the Yazidis.
As far as the Thieves of Baghdad (also known as Iraq's government) go, the terrorists were right. Iraqi minorities, including Christians, have been classified as fair game by Muslim butchers. Mainstream Iraqis simply look away.
But the second reason for those dramatic bombings was that al Qaeda needs to portray Iraq as a continuing failure of U.S. policy. Those dead and maimed Yazidis were just props: The intended audience was Congress. ...
The foreign terrorists slaughtering the innocent recognize that their only remaining hope of pulling off a come-from-way-behind win is to convince your senator and your congressman or -woman that it's politically expedient to hand a default victory to a defeated al Qaeda. ...
Expect more attempts to generate massive bloodshed in Iraq in the coming weeks. The terrorists are well aware of the exaggerated-by-all-parties importance of Gen. David Petraeus' Sept. 15 progress report to Congress. They'll do all they can to embarrass the general and provide ammunition to the surrender caucus.
Meanwhile, our military progress has become undeniable. Even Democratic presidential aspirants have started hedging their peace-at-any-price positions. To the horror of al Qaeda and left-wing bloggers alike, cutting and running is starting to look unfashionable. ...
Petraeus is also pursuing political progress, but that effort's still lagging. Not his fault: The most that our military can do is to help establish the conditions for Iraq's leaders to succeed. But the old rivalries, bitter hatreds and personal pettiness of Baghdad's politicians have been more discouraging than the terror attacks.
That said, we're not really in Iraq for Iraq's sake now, but for our own. The long-mismanaged situation has morphed from a grand attempt to create a model democracy in the Middle East to become a fight for our strategic security - knocking al Qaeda down, keeping Iran out (see sidebar) and shaping a new Iraq that's at least benign where our interests are concerned.