"It is beginning to change"

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Via the Belmont Club comes this upbeat report about Iraq from the Christian Science Monitor

"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.

NEXT: Middle Eastern Image Gap

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  1. “The sooner Americans get it through their thick skulls that you can’t pummel a population into wanting what you have, the better.” – It worked on the Japanese and Germans.

    “Why would those bombers have those ideas? The only reason they would have revenge on their minds is from invasion.” – Al Qaeda is in Iraq too.

  2. Al Kaida is in Iraq now. They were not there beforehand. That is a falsehood to suggest that there is an Iraq-Al Kaida connection that led to 11. September. Or: Prove there was.

    And these references to Germany and Japan. There were more issues at play than just beating into submission. The Emperor was in Japan maintained. And there were other occupying forces in Germany. And Russia did much of the fighting in Europe to win. And America was attacked by Imperial Japan. And Hitler’s Germany declared War on America. There is nothing with the past, present or future in the Iraq with which to compare with the Second Worldwar.

    The Conservatives must stop likening Hussein and Iraq with Hitler’s Germany. That is an insult to those souls who perished in the Concentration Camps and remain a stain on the Germanic Folk and western history. And it shows a complete lack of cultural and historical perspective. The same is true for the “Bush is Hitler people”. Wow. I feel here like Jean Bart. 🙂

  3. Oh, the Al Qaeda-Iraq connection is really quite simple. Al Qaeda hates the US. The Baathists hate the US. The members of both groups look similar and have similar-sounding names. Both are violent. So we can get revenge for the actions of one by attacking the other.

  4. Wodin wrote: “It worked on the Japanese and Germans.”

    Both of which were far more ethnically/religiously homogeneous than Iraq and both of which had more experience with homegrown civil government.

  5. Karl Kraus: And if you do not beat them in Hanoi, you will have to fight in Baltimore? Are you suggesting that Iraq has attacked US soil? What is the connection that which you imply? Rick Barton addresses your issues in his posts.

    No, I am not suggesting that Iraq has attacked American soil.

    But by the same token I could also argue that immediately prior to World War II Germany never attacked American soil, nor did it possess the will or the capacity to do so.

    But that didn?t stop us from (rightly) waging War against Germany after we were attacked at Pearl harbor.

    Karl Kraus: And you have a cool handle, by the way.

    Thank you very much. Would you care for an Apple? 😉

  6. Can we please stop blowing up Baltimore? That’s a little bit too close for comfort for me. How about we pick on Miami, or Houston, or Boston? You know, somewhere that H&R posters don’t live? 😉

  7. Sir Real, I do have to take issue with the (anecdotal) statements of the bi-partisan tourists who visit Chicago. They may say it is a fun place to visit, and safe, but I know there are approximately 500 murders there each year (with only a “drug war”, not a real war). Is Chicago choatic? A quagmire? Where are these tourist going, and who is leading them around, such that they are not exposed to this obvious carnage in the streets? Who are these right-wing liars trying to convince me to go there for a night out?

    Knowing that 80% of journalists are Democrats (or at least that was the case among the Washington pres corps in the 1996 presidential vote), and knowing election season is upon us, I think it would be a mistake to base your views on a situation as politically charged as progress in Iraq on the front pages and leadings stories of the “mainstream” (80% leaning) media. Remember, Afghanistan was a “quagmire” when we didn’t have the entire country under U.S. control in the first two weeks. Other say its a quagmire now, because we have not removed every islamofascist. With some people, there’s no winning, ever.

  8. Mr. Serpent:
    I hear your Flesh tastes like Chicken :). Eva was obviously Vegetarian. She should have wanted to eat meat. She probably is also a Green.

    Hitler’s Germany declared war on the US, and it was attacking US shipping from 10. December or something like that. While I cannot imagine the horror of 11. September, the Japan-Hitler’s Germany Axis was a direct threat to America. America declared war on Hitler’s Germany as responding to its declaring.

    Iraq did not declare war on America this time. Did it last time? Had there in Iraq been usable WMD found, then your statement would feel better. But it remains that Iraq was not a threat. And if it were such a threat, why was it not a campaign issue? 1998 was the last inspection date. It would have been a fair and good issue.

    What is the Milton quote? “To justify god’s ways to man”? Maybe that is what the President should do: justify his ways to the rest of us.

    Just PLEASE do not let me say anything supportive of Candidate Dean again! PLEASE! I am on bent knee, while I type this. PLEASE! Do not sic the PFC England on me 🙂

  9. It’s always hard to tell in the middle of things how they’re going, which is why I crack up at so many who oppose the war confidently stating that it’s a massive failure, when we’re still there, we’re still in charge, insurgents don’t have a chance (they only go as far as we let them) and by many standards things are and have been clearly improving.

    There will be tricky tests in the future, but it’s got nothing to do with the doom and gloom of those who hope things go badly, or pretend to bravely look disaster in the face.

  10. Jim: I think I’m supposed to be insulted, or at least demeaned. Which is it? Maybe you could provide a link with a detailed etymology of your comment. That ought to shut me up.

    Isn’t it kind of neat that people actually find a way to survive and even watch TV in the abscence of a nanny state to protect them? Sure, it isn’t as nice as Oakland, but there is more than one way to live.

    Wasn’t Beirut similar to this Iraq scene maybe 15 years ago? Too bad situations never improve anymore.

  11. BTW, has anyone elso got their june 2004 issue of Reason. Pretty F’ing cool (er, I mean alarming because of privacy concerns…). The front cover has a satellite photo of the neighborhood your house is in (or at least the address of your subscription). The back cover and inside front cover also has your personal information in it. It made me feel special.

  12. I know I’ve read at least a few excellent articles re: the American obsession with comparing every armed conflict to WWII. I don’t know that any serious comparison like this has been done with Iraq.

    Given what seem to me like a complete derth of important similarities, I wouldn’t think this to be worth doing. But the comparison keeps comes up so frequently I guess it should.

    Any links?

  13. bigbigslacker-

    If you would prefer to go to Iraq over Chicago for a night out, be my guest.

    As soon as the residents of Cabrini Green start dragging police corpses through the street, and car bombs start detonating with regularity, you might have a point.

    As soon as articles start surfacing about how no one knows who is going to take over Chicago’s government on June 30th, you might have a point.

    As soon as Chicago’s murder rate for a year approaches Iraq’s death rate for 2 weeks, you might have a point.*

    When you have a point, let me know.

    PS: I should also point out that most people who recommend visiting Chicago don’t have secret service details and approved agendas, and don’t stay in a walled compound where they are isolated from the average Chicagoan.

    The Green Zone in Baghdad all those politicians stay at? Potemkin Village.

    *This casualty figure should include all people killed, not just Americans. No, really.

  14. Ok, now i feel i have to defend myself since my comments were completely misunderstood. I replied to the statement that we cannot beat a people into submission by pointing out that we had beaten a number of people into submission. Your statements that japan attacked the US, etc are completely irrelevant to this point.
    My second point was in response to a question as to why bombers in Iraq would want to attack the US. I pointed out that some of the bombers in Iraq are from al qaeda, and their motives do not stem from the iraq invasion.

  15. “Beyond the Euphrates began for us the land of mirage and danger, the sands where one helplessly sank, and the roads which ended in nothing. The slightest reversal would have resulted in a jolt to our prestige giving rise to all kinds of catastrophe; the problem was not only to conquer but to conquer again and again, perpetually; our forces would be drained off in the attempt.”

    Emperor Hadrian AD 117-138

  16. Pavel,

    I like the time frame of 1944 where there were two armies competing for the occupation of Italy.

  17. Wodin:
    Fine. You state, that the US bombed Japan into submission. The two bombs underscore that point beyond doubt.

    I would still say that the Second Worldwar analogy is largely irrelevant and an inappropriate association. Culturally and politically and militarily these are talks about two at least two different conflicts. And the Emperor was kept in Japan. There were some considerations to the culture. Including the good use of the Atombomb instead of invasion. That probably saved American lives.

    Maybe we should look at Admiral Ferragut’s blokade of the South to discuss the embargo of Cuba, too (just for fun not to be aggressive; a silly, funny, example).

    Did bombing into submission work on the Vietnamese? No it did not.

    On your side the bombing seemed to work in Yugoslavia.

    Bombing into submission did not work at Stalingrad, nor did the bombing/ missles of Clinton against Bin Laden’s mistress/camel work. Nor did England succumb to the bombing.

    Either Vietnam or Yugoslavia would be better for this case, for Japan kicked America’s ass all around the Pacific until May 1942 and the Coral Sea, where the tide began turning.

    Vietnam and Yugoslavia posed no threat to America. Indeed, America has 20 years later on won the Vietnam war. Have a McDonalds on China Beach!

    You are right that Japan needed bombing into submission! But Germany is not a good example, as the Soviets were the ones, who took Berlin. US and British revenge bombings on Dresden did not do as much as the T34 (?) tanks into the Friedrichsstrasse.

    Iraq posed no military threat and there was no military quagmire in Iraq. The US pounded in and took Bagdhad over in no time at all. Much to the dismay of the Postmodern Euro-press America was militarily successful beyond belief.

    OK this is a very complex situation. And it is getting late. May I thank you for the good discussions and sign off.

    And you make a good point about Al Kaida now having a presence in the Iraq. But to go onwards from here would mean citing Howard Dean again. NO! MUST NOT CITE HIM AGAIN. MUST BE STRONG. AYN RAND NAKED AYN RAND NAKED. NO DEAN THOUGHTS!

  18. Karl Kraus: I hear your Flesh tastes like Chicken :).

    I guess it?s possible ? but I wouldn?t know myself.

    Karl Kraus: Eva was obviously Vegetarian.

    Most definitely, even to this day.

    Karl Kraus: She should have wanted to eat meat.

    I believe You?re thinking of Eris (or Lilith, if you prefer).

    Karl Kraus: She [Eve/Pandora] probably is also a Green.

    I guess that would depend on your precise definition of ?a Green?. But generally speaking I wouldn?t argue with you on that point.

    Karl Kraus: Hitler’s Germany declared war on the US?

    Some would say that Saddam Hussein (and therefore Iraq) declared war on the U.S. as well.

    Karl Kraus: ? and it [Germany] was attacking US shipping from 10. December or something like that.

    Yes, but they were attacking ships laden with weapons and ammunition bound for their enemies. In Germany?s mind those ships were legitimate targets of war. If we didn?t want to be involved then we shouldn?t have been involved.

    A Liberal would probably argue that those ships deserved what they got in the same way that Israeli?s deserve what they get from the Palestinians.

    Karl Kraus: While I cannot imagine the horror of 11. September, the Japan-Hitler’s Germany Axis was a direct threat to America.

    Well obviously Japan was a threat to America, because they had just attacked us at Pearl Harbor.

    But how was Germany a threat to us? Germany had no plans to attack the U.S., and even if they had wanted to attack us there was no possible way that they could. They were already engaged in a two front war in Europe. They lacked the resources in both men and material to launch any sort of direct attack on us.

    Not to mention that despite FDR?s unwarranted paranoia (leading us directly into the Thermonuclear weapons Age) that Germany didn?t actually have any WMDs!

    Karl Kraus: America declared war on Hitler’s Germany as responding to its declaring.

    And when a burglar breaks into your house in the middle of the night you should feel free to shoot back.

    America declared war on Hussein’s Iraq as responding to its declaring [war on us (war between Islamofascism and Western Society)].

    Karl Kraus: Iraq did not declare war on America this time. Did it last time?

    I?m not sure? All I can tell you is that when someone breaks into my house in the middle of the night, I don?t check to see if they have ?declared war? on me and my family before I start shooting. Generally I start shooting first, and then I ask the questions later on (assuming someone is around to answer them later on).

    Karl Kraus: Had there in Iraq been usable WMD found, then your statement would feel better.

    I never cared one lick about WMDs. You present a false dilemma.

    An airliner into your office will kill you just as efficiently as a Nuke will.

    Besides are you claiming that those Kurds only imagined being gassed to death?

    Is poison gas not considered a ?WMD??

    This sounds like more word-mangling for the sake of insanity.

    Karl Kraus: But it remains that Iraq was not a threat.

    And neither was Germany [towards America] circa 1941.

    What?s your point?

    Are you trying to assert we should have never attacked Germany during World War II?

    I don?t see anything in your argument that makes me believe you would have been in favor of a war with Germany if this were the day after Pearl Harbor back in 1941.

    Karl Kraus: And if it were such a threat, why was it not a campaign issue? 1998 was the last inspection date. It would have been a fair and good issue.

    Hey, nobody was talking about nuking Japan a month before Pearl Harbor either.

    Karl Kraus: What is the Milton quote? “To justify god’s ways to man”? Maybe that is what the President should do: justify his ways to the rest of us.

    Ohh, I understand this President perfectly. Lady Fate way be subtil, but She is not malevolent.

    President Bush is the kind of guy who says that if you break into his house in the middle of the night that you are going to get a bullet to your head for your troubles.

    Its not that he wants to shoot you in the head, but when you break into his house uninvited you are forcing his hand. It?s kind of like the notion that if you touch a hot stove burner you shouldn?t be surprised when you get burned.

    Karl Kraus: Just PLEASE do not let me say anything supportive of Candidate Dean again! PLEASE!

    Didn?t I warn you about that the first time?

    Karl Kraus: I am on bent knee, while I type this. PLEASE! Do not sic the PFC England on me 🙂

    You?d prefer Uday?

    Hey, I know people that would pay good money for that Smoking Chick to tie them up and humiliate them. 😉

  19. Are you combining Iraq with Al Kaida? Where was Iraq breaking into America’s house? Germany declared war on the US before America on Germany. And you must understand. My grandparents were on “the other side” (I am writing You from Vienna), so no I do not think “we” should have attacked Germany. Germany declared war on America. America responded.

    Iraq does not have any (more) WMDs. What happened in 1988 does not mean they had more. They did. They did not pose a threat to America. Yes those were a problem, we agree. How and where did they get them? Why did not you stop them back then? I know that Rumsfield was “concerned” about that, but the US had the muscle to do something back then, too.

    I do not understand your talk of using the Atombomb over Japan one month before Pearl Harbour – how is this relevant? Do you mean that 11. September is the justification for attacking Iraq?

    You keep talking about people breaking into your house. Please explain how Iraq did this?

    Monolithic Islam is your enemy? Ho Chi Mihn wrote a letter to Eisenhower requesting American help. Monolithic “Islamofascism” does not exist any more than did Monolithic Communism.

    And the Moral Relativism of suggesting that the PFC England is “better” than Uday is absurd. I would expect more from America. All of these arguments would be pertinant, if the discussion were about Afghanistan. Iraq has nothing to do with 11. September. Justifying Iraq on the basis of 11. September is wrong. And the consequences are horrible.

  20. Some would say that Saddam Hussein (and therefore Iraq) declared war on the U.S. as well.

    Well some are stupid.

    How did he declare war? Did he stomp the podium with his shoe and yell “we will bury you”? Good thing we didn’t have more people with your perspective in 1962.

    Seriously, how the hell did he “declare war on us.” He hated the US and spouted anti-US rhetoric. Great, so do dozens of other regimes. Are we going to invade them too? Because by your logic, they’ve all declared war on us.

    All I can tell you is that when someone breaks into my house in the middle of the night, I don?t check to see if they have ?declared war? on me and my family before I start shooting.

    I think a more apt comparison would be: Someone breaks into your house and disappears. So you go and beat the shit out of the asshole that lives down the street cause you never liked him anyway. Besides, his son is a troublemaker.

  21. Karl Kraus: Are you combining Iraq with Al Kaida?

    I?m talking about the anti-American, anti-western, suicidal, genocidal Islamofascist.

    You can call a rose (or a turd) by any name, but its still a rose (or a turd).

    Karl Kraus: Where was Iraq breaking into America’s house?

    So if a burglar breaks into your neighbor?s house or your brother?s house you wouldn?t consider that ?burglary? on a ?technicality??

    Karl Kraus: Germany declared war on the US before America on Germany.

    Yes, but I could say:

    Iraq (i.e. Islamofascism) declared war on the US before America declared war on Iraq (i.e. Islamofascism)

    Karl Kraus: And you must understand. My grandparents were on “the other side” (I am writing You from Vienna), so no I do not think “we” should have attacked Germany. Germany declared war on America. America responded.

    Iraq (or Islamofascism if you prefer) declared war on America. And now America is responding. Like I said, don?t touch the hot stove burner if you don?t like getting burned.

    I got the impression from your previous post that you lived in Baltimore. My apologies for the confusion.

    Karl Kraus: Iraq does not have any (more) WMDs.

    1) It?s a moot point now (thanks to GWB).
    2) How do you know this for certain?

    Karl Kraus: What happened in 1988 does not mean they had more. They did. They did not pose a threat to America.

    Precisely like Germany did not pose a threat to the U.S. back in the early 1940?s.

    But let me ask you something. Suppose that a burglar/rapist breaks into your house in the middle of the night. Do you actually have to wait for him to start raping your wife first, or shoot at your first before you can shoot back at him?

    Karl Kraus: I do not understand your talk of using the Atombomb over Japan one month before Pearl Harbour – how is this relevant? Do you mean that 11. September is the justification for attacking Iraq?

    Yes.

    Karl Kraus: You keep talking about people breaking into your house. Please explain how Iraq did this?

    Well you have to understand that like a lot of Americans (yet unlike the majority of Europeans), I am a Fatalist (or a Determinist, if you prefer). I believe that all of our actions, and in fact everything which occurs in reality, is all preordained. It is Destine to happen.

    Ergo if you perceive that someone is destined to rape your wife, you don?t wait for them to act before you respond, but instead you intercede to prevent the rape before it ever occurs in the first place.

    In a nutshell that?s what is happening in Iraq.

    Karl Kraus: Monolithic Islam is your enemy? Ho Chi Mihn wrote a letter to Eisenhower requesting American help. Monolithic “Islamofascism” does not exist any more than did Monolithic Communism.

    I am the sworn Champion of Individuality and sworn Nemesis of Conformity. Islam is not an inherently malevolent religion in my assessment. But the most common modern interpretation of Islam twists the faith into a religion of Solipsism, Materialism, and Atheism.

    The foot soldiers may believe in God (Allah), but I assure you guys like Hussein and Bin Laden are quite convinced that they are going to cease to exist when they die. They treat the world exactly like that is what they believe. It is the way of a Solipsist.

    Karl Kraus: And the Moral Relativism of suggesting that the PFC England is “better” than Uday is absurd. I would expect more from America. All of these arguments would be pertinant, if the discussion were about Afghanistan. Iraq has nothing to do with 11. September. Justifying Iraq on the basis of 11. September is wrong. And the consequences are horrible.

    I believe that morality is Objective, and this is a direct result of the objective nature of reality itself.

    What do you believe? (is morality Subjective or Objective?)

    Is it better to be thrown into a plastic shedder, or stripped naked and tied to a leash? Which would YOU prefer?

    Suppose you had to pick one Fate or the other for one of your own children? Which would you select?

    Do you still want to assert that my ?Smoking Chick? is just as bad as Uday Hussein?

    Have you ever witnessed a college fraternity hazing? Men stripped naked, forced to bend over and grab their ankles, all in a row. ?Thank you Sir may I have another!?

    Perhaps things are a bit different over in Europe?

    I don?t suppose you have ever seen the American TV program ?Fear Factor?? How about the MTV show ?Jackass?? I?ve seen things just as bad (if not worse) on ?fear factor? and ?Jackass? as what I have seen in those photos of Abu Gharaib.

  22. A Liberal would probably argue that those ships deserved what they got in the same way that Israeli?s deserve what they get from the Palestinians.
    Apparently, many Americans felt that ships sending weapons to Germany getting sunk wasn’t enough of a cause to start a war.

    Not to mention that despite FDR?s unwarranted paranoia (leading us directly into the Thermonuclear weapons Age) that Germany didn?t actually have any WMDs!
    Well, if, as you said, poison gas is a WMD, then yes, Hitler had plenty of it. I personally think poisonous gas and difficult to transmit diseases (like anthrax) don’t really qualify as WMDs. It’s the nukes and the infectious diseases that I worry about. If we didn’t discover nukes, someone else would’ve. I’m glad it was us.

    And when a burglar breaks into your house in the middle of the night you should feel free to shoot back.
    America declared war on Hussein’s Iraq as responding to its declaring [war on us (war between Islamofascism and Western Society)].

    I must’ve missed the Iraqi invasion of America. Saddam is good old fashioned fascism. Hussein’s regime is as Islamic as the Netherlands’ is Christian.

    I don?t see anything in your argument that makes me believe you would have been in favor of a war with Germany if this were the day after Pearl Harbor back in 1941.
    Tojo:Hitler != bin Laden:Hussein. Also, Germany declared war on us.

    Hey, nobody was talking about nuking Japan a month before Pearl Harbor either.
    Naw, we just stopped exporting oil to them and put up economic sanctions.

  23. Karl:

    “Bombing into submission did not work at Stalingrad, nor did the bombing/ missles of Clinton against Bin Laden’s mistress/camel work. Nor did England succumb to the bombing.”

    The merit of your other comments aside, I have to know: Are you insinuating that bin Laden’s mistress and camel are the same entity?

  24. Supporters of the war always bring up WWII because it was such a success; those who oppose it bring up SE Asia because it was such a disaster – I believe they bring these analogies up partly because their historical memories are so dim. However, I find neither of these analogies to be especially helpful (partly because the facts in Iraq diverge so much from these earlier conflicts).

    A far better analogy to these events in Iraq is the British occupation of that same “country” after WWI. Indeed, that occupation could provide a roadmap of sorts for events there.

  25. Pavel, Karl Kraus and Mo, why are you guys giving this troll the time of day?

  26. Gosh, 42 posts about rubbernecking? How silly.

  27. Gosh, 40-some posts about rubbernecking. How silly.

  28. Of course, one reason the various insurgent groups have stopped attacking the Iraqi police so much is that so many Iraqi police have joined the insurgents.

  29. I thought the reason the attacks had slowed down was because, given the friendly Ba’athist in control of Najaf, the insurgents (rightly) concluded that they would soon BE the police.

  30. Is it one step forward and two back, or two steps forward and one back? Tune in later….

  31. The first three comments show effects of popular US media bias (and probably personal antiwar bias). There are plenty of photos of flaming wreckage and people waving guns in the streets. Yet, if there is such rampant chaos, how do we explain the heavy motor traffic, the colorful banners of electronics and telecom companies festooning commercial districts, and the seemingly crazy number of people from Europe and south Asia in Iraq attempting to operate businesses? Many people judge it safe and stable enough to go there in search of opportunity. Some will die, some will get rich, and some will go home broke.

    The Monitor tells more of the stories, not just the hideous ones.

  32. Imagine if we left completely on June 30. Not a soldier left.

    Who would they attack in Iraq? The new government? Even if it’s perceived as a “puppet” of the US, what would they gain by attacking? I wouldn’t see the purpose.

    Then again, they don’t think clearly anyways.

  33. Well, it is always easy to focus on the train wreck, or the car wreck, or the ambush, or whatever has gone wrong. It’s the natural thing to do, and on top of that, many people have an ideological reason for such a focus–and that reinforces the emphysis on “what’s going wrong”.

    Some people have made an anology of Vietnam, and in the case of the recent uprising, the Tet offensive. In Hue during Tet, as the Marines were regaining control, the Marine commander was interviewed by Walter Cronkite. The Marine commander tells Cronkite how the NVA is being mopped up, and the fighting is winding down. The network dubbed into the tap the sounds of heavy fighting in the background. Many Marines never forgave Cronkite for this, although how much role he had in accepting the dubbed tape I do not know . . .

  34. Mark Fox-

    Of course, happy little anecdotes in the CSMonitor is far more persuasive than the consistent details that have emerged for over a year.

    Try these on-
    “The Post goes inside with a poll concluding that 80 percent of Iraqis don’t have confidence in the U.S. occupation. The poll was commissioned by occupation authorities and was taken before the abuse scandal and last month’s uprisings. One question: If this was the WP’s poll would the paper still be stuffing it?

    The Journal reports that the U.S. has recently created “commissions,” with five-year mandates and U.S.-appointed staffers, that will effectively oversee various Iraqi ministries. U.S. officials said they’re only doing that to ensure that the incoming appointed government doesn’t make irreversibly bad choices. But the WSJ says the upshot is that “the new Iraqi government will have little control over its armed forces, lack the ability to make or change laws and be unable to make major decisions within specific ministries without tacit U.S. approval.”

    http://slate.msn.com/id/2100435/

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A22403-2004May12?language=printer

    http://online.wsj.com/public/us

    Your post obviously exposes the effect of the conservative press bias (and probably personal pro-war “utopian” bias, aka The Pollyanna Syndrome.)

  35. The Ironchef: Imagine if we left completely on June 30. Not a soldier left.
    Who would they attack in Iraq? The new government? Even if it’s perceived as a “puppet” of the US, what would they gain by attacking? I wouldn’t see the purpose.
    Then again, they don’t think clearly anyways.

    They seem to think pretty clearly when it comes to blowing stuff up.

    But I?m wondering what?s going to happen back here in the U.S. when the bad guys don?t have the convenience of being able to attack our ALL VOLUNTEER military over there in the Middle East?

    I guess some people just prefer the scenario where the terrorist attack our innocent civilians (i.e. women and children) back here at home instead?

    I?m more of the mind that the best Defense is a good Offense.

  36. At least 350 Iraqi police were killed in the first year of occupation; that rate dropped dramatically to roughly a dozen killed during April.

    Isn’t it odd that in April when Iraqi police deaths went down, American deaths soared? 145 killed and 963 wounded.

    What does it all mean?

  37. “I guess some people just prefer the scenario where the terrorist attack our innocent civilians (i.e. women and children) back here at home instead?”
    And if you do not beat them in Hanoi, you will have to fight in Baltimore? Are you suggesting that Iraq has attacked US soil? What is the connection that which you imply? Rick Barton addresses your issues in his posts. And you have a cool handle, by the way.

  38. Regarding polling numbers, they are not all negative. A recent USA Today poll finds similar numbers as for wanting the Army on the way out. But it also finds that ” [It]shows that most continue to say the hardships suffered to depose Saddam Hussein were worth it. Half say they and their families are better off than they were under Saddam. And a strong majority say they are more free to worship and to speak.”

    Incidentally, only the results of the Post poll cited above have been released. Not its methodology.

    And Mr. Kraus: All that Sr. Serpent is suggesting– I think– is that the vast majority of those making mischief in Iraq are being distracted from bombing the Inner Harbor.

    But back to the original point. It really IS difficult to get a handle on how badly things are going over there. It does appear that people who actually VISIT come back thinking better of the situation.

  39. The purpose?

    To make sure a representative form of government isn’t allowed to take hold.

    To make sure a free market isn’t allowed to take hold.

    To crush the rule of law

    Yes, I’m sure the insurgents are very concerned about free markets, democracy and other forms of doublespeak. Please. This kind of rhetoric is especially irritating when we know damn well that Iraqis are not even remotely concerned with these culturally foreign concepts. The vast majority are theocratic religionists and are more concerned about national identity than whether they’ll (oh please God) be free to drive thru and order a #2 on the Wendy’s menu. Or better yet, free to elect a foreign puppet regime (yes, that’s the only option you have when a nation is predominantly undemocratic in insitutions/practices/values/culture).

    The sooner Americans get it through their thick skulls that you can’t pummel a population into wanting what you have, the better.

  40. Sir: Guess again. I don’t like the war. The Monitor covers the ugly side as well, even though that it is already well done by far more sources than you cite. Apparently any positive news must be wrong. Thanks for supporting my point.

    Now, tell me why opportunists flock to a land of supposed total chaos? Passing the knee-jerk reaction that they want to be big bullies in absence of law, it takes significant investment and therefore a prospect of stability to create a private communications network. Maybe all Iraqis despise Americans, but some Koreans seem to think they’ll actually get paid in future for equipment installed in Iraq today.

  41. The first three comments show effects of popular US media bias (and probably personal antiwar bias). There are plenty of photos of flaming wreckage and people waving guns in the streets. Yet, if there is such rampant chaos, how do we explain the heavy motor traffic, the colorful banners of electronics and telecom companies festooning commercial districts, and the seemingly crazy number of people from Europe and south Asia in Iraq attempting to operate businesses? Many people judge it safe and stable enough to go there in search of opportunity. Some will die, some will get rich, and some will go home broke.

    Excuse me. You are required by law to include a reference to painting schools in such passages.

  42. While granting the USAT poll numbers, I do have to take issue with the (anecdotal) statements of the bi-partisan tourists.

    The idea that these politicians had any sort of honest experience with the situation is absurd, given the security and oversight of their visit, and the desperate desire of the CPA to make a good impression.

    I’m not saying those tourists are lying, though- I’m quite positive they saw those Potemkin villages with their own eyes.

  43. “And Mr. Kraus: All that Sr. Serpent is suggesting– I think– is that the vast majority of those making mischief in Iraq are being distracted from bombing the Inner Harbor”

    Why would those bombers have those ideas? The only reason they would have revenge on their minds is from invasion. That sounds like giving Howard Dean right, in that America is not necessarily safer, now that S Hussein is gone. And it pains me to think that Mr. Dean could be right about something.

    Good name, Karl!

  44. DB:
    Yes I was. I apologise to all Camels and other Dromedaries out there.

    Snakes have:
    It is simple: when a Serpent breaks into your board….. 🙂

  45. Mo: If we didn’t discover nukes, someone else would’ve.

    How do you know that for certain?

    Do you realize how much money was invested in the R&D? Other than the U.S. (motivated by a global War) who had the resources to develop the technology?

    Once the war was over what would have been the urgency for anyone to develop them?

    Mo: I’m glad it was us.

    Yes, but I bet you are also horrified by the ?atrocities? at Abu Gharaib.

    Mo: I must’ve missed the Iraqi invasion of America.

    And I must have missed the German invasion of America during WWII.

    Mo: Saddam is good old fashioned fascism.

    I agree.

    Mo: Hussein’s regime is as Islamic as the Netherlands’ is Christian.

    Hussein is a Secularist (an Atheist) himself.

    Mo: Also, Germany declared war on us.

    So what?

    Are you suggesting the Germans were capable of invading the U.S. during the 1940?s?

    In what way was Germany a direct military threat to the U.S.?

    Are you suggesting that there was some sort of German-Pearl harbor connection?

  46. Nick Gillespie posts:

    “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.”

    Read the Iraqi bloggers and listen to their voices — as many as you can find, not just the ones who say what you like to hear or whose English is fluent. You’ll find that truth at ground level is many-sided. There’s lots of normality, and there’s lives turned upside down and inside out. You’ll read of people who rejoice at their liberation (personal and political) and of dreadful details of the daily intrusions of occupation.

    The bloggers tell us of fear when friends’ homes are invaded and ransacked by troops who don’t explain their mission; the comraderie among male and female college students at end-of-term festivities; anxiety when there is no news of the husband of an acquaintance who is assumed to have been detained for months with no charges; the adrenalin rush of dashing in from the garden or down from sleeping on the roof when RPGs suddenly start flying nearby and a helicopter hovers overhead; the Perils of Pauline of traveling from Basra to London; the horror at the bombs in Basra that shredded and mangled the flesh of school children; the warmth of a family welcoming a long-exiled old friend; the disrespect toward a well-educated, respected woman by a young soldier with what looks like an itchy trigger finger; the satisfaction of a well-educated professional father who can buy the family a satelite TV now he gets a decent salary; the tension after several colleagues have been kidnapped and tortured for ransom; the rage at the US for using AC-130s in Fallujah; the disgust at criminals who use the Sadrist “uprising” to enforce their local protection racket; the scorn at the IGC members who are approving flag designs and lobbying for places in the next government while oil depots are attacked and suicide bombers produce carnage; the unorthodox daylight lover’s lane that shelters the couples in cars from munitions but not from the voyeurs on the highway overpass above who are critiquing their performance.

    Throughout the bloggers’ tales, their rants, their prayers, their manifestos, their tears, they share a wonderful humor, albeit black. The bloggers give me faith that, over the coming generation, Iraq has a chance to emerge as a country these various characters would each be proud to call home. Even those who are most bitter at the US still confirm, between the lines, that the benefits of Saddam’s overthrow are enjoyed by a large portion of the educated urban population.

    Even the most positive of the bloggers, however, offers illustrations of why, at the strategic level, the US is poorly positioned and running out of time and room to maneuver. Regardless of their position toward the US, each blogger is deeply concerned about the legitimacy of the US presence. Legitimacy is a strategic problem for the US that won’t be “cured” by a gradual improvement of daily living conditions or a more effective Iraqi police force (though it may be worsened if there’s no air conditioning for this summer).

    There are a couple of Iraqi bloggers who are die-hard US supporters who try to find evidence of why the US’s legitimacy should not be in question. These bloggers tend to focus on the distortions of al-Jazeera or the rabble-rousing of Sadr’s lieutenants. There are bloggers who want the US out immediately, even though they recognize that it will leave them at risk of further insecurity, violence and chaos. But they believe that the US’s lack of credibility means that the US’s ongoing presence is an even greater risk of insecurity, violence and chaos. And there are the ambivalent, who have considerable sympathy for the US undertaking, and for whom the promise of a free and democratic Iraq is precious, but who realize that the US has lost much of its credibility. The sadness in those voices has grown in the past few weeks, because they fear that the US will not be able to regain sufficient legitimacy so as to allow the US to remain alongside new Iraqi government institutions as long as these bloggers believe Iraq will need the US support.

    The same sort of good news on the ground, bad news strategically, seems to apply to the US’s military situation. As one senior officer noted in a recent WaPo article, we’re winning tactically but losing politically. By tactically he did not mean solely in fighting terms — the number of enemy killed on the battlefield, or the ability to take and control territory at will. He meant as well the process recently begun of neutralizing the worst or most intransigent of the enemy, coopting others, and achieving the combined tactical objectives of bringing some stability to areas that have been out of control in parallel with the insertion of Iraqis who have accepted responsiblity for ongoing order. This view of the tactical objectives of field commanders is confirmed by emails from US soldiers and junior officers fighting in either Fallujah or the Najaf area that have been posted over the last 10 days or so on several blogs.

    This tactical approach is what the US military wanted to take from the outset of the post-conflict stabilization stage, and would have if given sufficient troops. They have learned that nation-building and political transformation seems to require a generational change, based on experience after the Berlin Wall and watching the Asian Tigers transform. There are a lot of steps backward and sideways as well as forward. It is not a process that can be started and nurtured on the timetable the Bush Admin initially adopted for the US military. The jury is out as to whether there’s still time (or inclination) for the US to adjust its presence to fit the approach of low-key patience and partnership. The US military itself is willing, since that is in fact the strategy it recommended to the civilian leaders, and it is the basis for many recent tactical decisions by field commanders that have come as a shock to arm-chair generals.

    So the important story is the way that both good and bad news mix together. It’s almost impossible to capture in a single report. The CSM reporters are unusual in their ability to paint a hopeful picture of real improvements on the Iraqi civilian side of the story. But there are few foreign journalists who are able, in even a series of features, to give the same degree of insight as is found by becoming an avid reader of Iraqi blogs.

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