[Updated] Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi has been killed in Iraq by an air strike. Reaction about the impact this will have on the insurgency is noticeably more muted than comments following the capture of Saddam.

And the fact that reactions have been measured is comforting since this administration has been anything but when it comes to purported “turning” and “tipping” points in Iraq. [Perhaps I spoke too soon.]

My gut feeling is that it probably won’t matter much. We are not dealing with a coherent mass where a decapitation strike would actually mean all that much on the ground. The insurgency has gained a momentum of its own–what we refer to as ‘the’ insurgency is actually a collection of different groups with various allegiances and goals. The sectarian tensions have already been stoked and whether Al-Zarqawi is alive or dead to some extent doesn’t matter—the boulder has already started rolling down the hill. Getting in front of it and slowing it down is still a daunting task.

That being said, it certainly felt good this morning to hear that this man is no longer breathing.

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