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April 30, 2006
The Sugar Ray Strategy In Reverse

When an enemy changes strategy to play to your strength, it indicates either desperation or unbridled folly -- both of which augurs nothing but good news. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi now will indulge this desperation or folly in fighting the Americans. The leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq has decided to abandon suicide missions in favor of military operations, according to the London Times, due to a lack of volunteers for the former:

THE leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is attempting to set up his own mini-army and move away from individual suicide attacks to a more organised resistance movement, according to US intelligence sources.

Faced with a shortage of foreign fighters willing to undertake suicide missions, Zarqawi wants to turn his group into a more traditional force mounting co-ordinated guerrilla raids on coalition targets.

Al-Qaeda is sending training and planning experts to help to set up the force and infiltrate members into Iraq with the assistance of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the sources said.

This reminds me of the two boxing matches between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran in the 1980s. In the first fight, Leonard announced that he would abandon his traditional fluid boxing style to fight toe-to-toe against the slugger Duran, who was also heavier and slower than Leonard. No one thought Sugar Ray was serious until the fight, when he proved that he meant exactly what he said. Leonard lost, narrowly but clearly, as he and Duran fought one of the classic boxing matches of all time.

In the rematch, Leonard learned his lesson and fought his own fight, using all of his skills. Duran could not keep up with Leonard, who moved brilliantly and pounded Duran with his trademark flurries. Duran memorably and dishonorably quit halfway through the fight as Leonard humiliated him.

Zarqawi now wants to try this in reverse, and the results will not get pretty. As a terrorist mastermind, he's proven himself less than adequate. He has alienated even those in Iraq who share his goals of Islamist domination. Now he wants to create an army and play general against the most powerful armed force in world history. He has crapped out using his own strengths against the Americans, and now he wants to play directly into American strength in a stand-up fight. He may think that this will frighten the US military and its leadership, but right now I'd bet dollars to donuts they're either (a) laughing themselves silly, (b) high-fiving all around Centcom for having forced Zarqawi into this desperation tactic, or (c) both.

He'd be better off adopting Roberto Duran's strategy in the second fight. A 'no mas' at this juncture would save him a lot of humiliation and what's left of his following.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 30, 2006 8:35 AM

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