Sunday, November 02, 2003

The Big Picture 

Today's attack on the Chinook helicopter was a tragic event for sure, and my thoughts go out to the loved ones of the deceased. However, they are not the whole story in what is happening in Iraq. Here are some points I think deserve mentioning, plus my own thoughts on the issue.

The terrorist resistance is still restricted to the Baghdad-Fallujah-Tikrit "Sunni Triangle". Millions of Shia Arabs in the south and Kurds in the north are living in a relatively safe environment (safer than under Saddam!). For them, liberation and reconstruction are going well.

The perpetrators of the recent violence probably belong to two groups: former regime loyalists (FRLs) and foreign Jihadists. Signs are that they are closely coordinated, which is no surprise: FRLs need Jihadists to drive the suicide truck bombs, and Jihadists need FRLs to help get at the stashes of munitions left behind by the Baathists.

I don't think extremist Shia Muslims are a big factor: they'd be loath to cooperate with Baathists that tried to kill them just a few years ago, and Iraqis in general are suspicious of non-Iraqis because Saddam spent so much of Iraq's resources in pandering to non-Iraqis in the hope of being the leader of the Arab world. So they'd be left by themselves amongst an unsympathetic population. Plus all they have to do is look at how messed Iran is to know that Islamic theocracy works for nobody.

Add it up, and you see that the US problem can't be solved by delegating responsibility to the UN, or packing up and going home, or anything else the Left says. Because the enemy is not just targeting America: they are targeting the people of Iraq. None of the people setting up car bombs and blowing up buildings and helicopters are doing it because of short-term spite against America (that, of course, is the problem with the Left, and hence they project their problem as the attackers'). They blew up places like the UN and the ICRC because Iraq is an opportunity for them. America recognizes Iraq as an opportunity to create a democracy in a region where none exists. However, the opportunity is, as the Chinese proverb goes, also a danger where a renewed Baathist or Wahhabi regime can take over. The only way you can solve the problem is to kill the bastards, which will mean better border control, improved intelligence, and accelerating the development of the local Iraqi security apparatus. Local Iraqis can easily get into areas of rich intelligence and can more rapidly adapt to local conditions. In sum: more American involvement in Iraq, not less.
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