The article linked in the title above is long, but is absolutely essential if you want to truly understand the recent progress in Iraq beyond the sound-bite level (you know, the one most lefties dwell at). It's written by Lieutenant Colonel David Kilcullen, Australian Army (currently in the Reserves), now Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to General David Petraeus, so ya know the author has both seen what's going on in Iraq and thought deeply about it.
Here's a quick excerpt:
Islam, of course, is a key identity marker when dealing with non-Muslim outsiders, but when all involved are Muslim, kinship trumps religion. And in fact, most tribal Iraqis I have spoken with consider AQ’s brand of “Islam” utterly foreign to their traditional and syncretic version of the faith. One key difference is marriage custom, the tribes only giving their women within the tribe or (on rare occasions to cement a bond or resolve a grievance, as part of a process known as sulha) to other tribes or clans in their confederation (qabila). Marrying women to strangers, let alone foreigners, is just not done. AQ, with their hyper-reductionist version of “Islam” stripped of cultural content, discounted the tribes’ view as ignorant, stupid and sinful.Now, go read the whole thing, and then spend some time digesting it.