"It is beginning to change," says Emad Abbas Qassem, a lieutenant in the Facility Protection Service (FPS), at his post outside a central Baghdad education ministry office. "It's not only the people, but my wife, my family and brothers tell me: 'Go to work and do your duty.' They used to be so afraid."
Indeed, the number of targeted attacks and casualties against security forceshas dropped in recent weeks, relative to previous months. At least 350 Iraqi police were killed in the first year of occupation; that rate dropped dramatically to roughly a dozen killed during April. Lieutenant Qassem estimates a 50 percent drop in the past month alone. "Because we were trained by the Americans, [Iraqis] dealt with us like we were Americans," he says.
Leaving aside all questions of the propriety of the war/occupation, this sort of article represents a striking contrast to the typical media narrative coming out of Iraq, which is buttressed not simply by horrific episodes such as Nick Berg's execution but also the sabotaging of oil pipelines, and the like.
Quite frankly, from a distance–and with a general lack of knowledge of what post-war occupations are like–I find it extremely difficult to evaluate conflicting news reports. It's easy (and not invalid) for pro-war and anti-war observers to argue from ideology, but it remains hard to get a good grip on what the situation is actually like, or any sense of context or historical perspective.