Former CIA case officer Marc Gerecht explains that Sunni extremism is in retreat all around the world thanks to our ongoing success in Iraq. This is the best news I've heard since 2001; it must make the Democrats nervous about their electoral chances in November, despite their obvious pleasure at America's victory.

Throughout the Arab world, fundamentalism today is much stronger on the ground than it was in the 1980s. Yet the fundamentalist commitment to the Iraqi Sunni Arab insurgency pales in comparison with that made to Sunni Afghans.

A second striking fact about Islamism and the Iraq war is that the arrival of foreign holy warriors is deradicalizing the local population -- the exact opposite of what happened in Afghanistan. In the Soviet war, the "Arab Afghans" arrived white-hot -- their radicalization had occurred at home in the 1960s and 1970s, when Islamic fundamentalism replaced secular Arab nationalism as the driving intellectual force. On the subcontinent, Arab holy warriors accelerated extreme Islamism among both Afghans and Pakistanis. We are still living with the results.

In Iraq, as we have seen with the anti-al-Qaeda, Sunni Arab "Awakenings," Sunni extremism is now in retreat. More important, the gruesome anti-Shiite tactics of extremist groups, combined with the much-quoted statements made by former Sunni insurgents about the positive actions of the United States in Iraq, have caused a great deal of intellectual turbulence in the Arab world.

That final emphasized phrase is the key. "Intellectual turbulence" is what President Bush and other invasion-supporters intended back in 2003, and that sort of radical rethinking in the Muslim world is what will ultimately win the War on Terror. (A radical rethinking on our part is what will lose the war.) It's either that, or a fight to the death between Islam and the West -- for the sake of Muslims around the world I hope it doesn't come to that.

(HT: Iraq Pundit, who is an Iraqi in Iraq and endorses Gerecht's perspective; and Instapundit.)


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