May 04, 2005


Hm, the hawkosphere is all abuzz over a letter intercepted in Iraq, intended for Zarqawi, in which a bunch of jihadis are complaining about "low morale." But is it actually low morale? Let's see, from the letter:
"I swear by God that you will be asked about what happened to us because you have not asked about the situation of the migrants. Morale is down and there is fatigue among mujahedeen ranks."
Grumble, grumble, grumble. But this isn't necessarily proof of low morale. An old Robert Kaplan piece about Marines in Niger offers some useful context here:
According to the military expert Edward Luttwak, soldiers and Marines complain all the time -- but that doesn't mean morale is bad. Luttwak would be suspicious if they didn't complain. Bad morale is when troops have lost their spirit to fight.
So have Zarqawi's faithful correspondents actually lost their will to fight, or are they just bitching? It sure seems like the former, but hard to tell... [UPDATE: Steve M. points out that we saw a letter like this a year ago. So maybe it's just bitching, after all?]
-- Brad Plumer 2:29 AM || ||