Iraq: April 12, 2004


Many Iraqis are angry that American troops are fighting back at Sunni and Shia gangs that have been killing and terrorizing Iraqis and foreigners. The Iraqis demand that some other, less violent, way be found to deal with the Iraqi thugs. In the past, the only Iraqi solution to dealing with these thugs was to submit to them, an approach which led to tyrants like Saddam Hussein. Bad habits are hard to break. Many Europeans are angry as well. But these are the people who have brought us Adolph Hitler, Joe Stalin, Francisco Franco, Benito Mussolini (and many others), in the last few generations. So they know a lot about how to nurture tyranny, and want America to learn from the European experience. In fact many Arab nations are criticizing the treatment of Iraqi terrorists and murderers. None of the Arab nations has a functioning democracy, all are ruled by men who exercise power through force. So opposing the treatment of the murderers in Fallujah, and Sadrs thugs in the south, can be seen as professional courtesy between Arabs. The mass media, by and large, reports all this with a straight face.

The ceasefire in Fallujah, to facilitate negotiations between tribal elders and gunmen, is holding. Arab doctors say that over 600 Iraqis have died in Fallujah, and that most of them have been women and children. The doctors are almost certainly lying, as Arab, and especially Iraqi, officials have consistently lied in situations like this. The marines are operating under rules of engagement that avoided civilian casualties, although some did occur. The Iraqi gunmen would try to protect themselves by firing from among unarmed civilians. This did not always work. Most of the dead in Fallujah are armed men caught shooting at marines or Iraqis. 

Two of the three battalions of the new Iraqi army was brought in to perform security in parts of Fallujah where the gunmen had been cleared out. One of those battalions refused to enter the city. Some of the troops said they "would not fight Iraqis." This was described as a "command failure," meaning that the Iraqi officers were not up to the task of leading and motivating their troops. This has long been a problem with Iraqi troops and it is recognized that selecting and training competent Iraqi officers will be a major task. 

Marines continue to fight Sunni Arab gunmen in other parts of the Sunni Triangle west of Baghdad, while army and coalition troops fight Sadr gunmen in the south. 

Official and traditional Iraqi leader continue negotiations to end the fighting. The gangs of Iraqi gunmen are getting cut to pieces by American troops, but the images of the fighting shown on the Arab media, and broadcast back to Iraq, reflects poorly on the Iraqi leadership. There has been an "understanding" that if the Iraqi leaders prevented large scale opposition, the coalition would flood the country with Iraqi police and security troops and pour in money, foreign aid workers to rebuild the country after three decades of Baath Party plundering and mismanagement, hold elections and leave. The current violence by Baath Party and Shia radical gangs represents the failure of Iraqis to even tolerate the rebuilding of their own country, and reflects poorly on the traditional Iraqi leadership. While many Iraqis complain that the country has not been rebuilt in a few months or a year, most Iraqi leaders know better, and know that there have been progress month by month. And that if Iraq is allowed to fall back into it's traditional cycle of armed gangs fighting for power, all will be lost. This does not play well, or at all, in the media, but it is the sort of illusions you have to deal with in Iraq.


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