Iraq: August 4, 2004


The anti-government forces think they are winning, which is why they are losing. Iraq got itself into a mess by believing in fantasies. The unwillingness of many Iraqis to deal with reality allowed Saddam Hussein to take and hold power for over three decades. The belief in fantasy over reality took Iraq into two wars that left it broke and cut off from the world. The overthrow of the Baath Party government, in a three week campaign last year, left Iraqis with a choice. Do we drop the daydream approach to decision making, or do we get real? The anti-government forces (al Qaeda, Baath Party and Islamic radicals) have gone for the fantasy approach. The government, with some reluctance and foot dragging, is trying reality. The anti-government groups now see kidnapping as a way to defeat the government. So far, this has forced the Philippines to withdraw 51 troops, and several trucking companies to stop doing business with coalition forces. The anti-government forces are very encouraged by this. But the loss of the Filipino troops makes no difference in a force of 160,000, and there are plenty of other trucking companies willing to do the work. The anti-government groups believe that they can terrorize Iraqis into switching support from the current government to a dictatorship. But it gets stranger than that, because the anti-government forces are not united in their vision of  what Iraq should be like. The Baath Party wants to put the Sunni Arab minority back in charge. Al Qaeda wants a Sunni Arab religious dictatorship. Islamic radicals want either a Sunni or Shia religious dictatorship, but not quite the same as the al Qaeda vision of religious rule. The Sunni and Shia Islamic radicals would have to fight a war to decide which vision of Islam would rule the country. Most Iraqis are more interested in halting the street crime and kidnapping of Iraqis than they are in the fantasies of the anti-government factions. 

Week by week, more Iraqi police and soldiers clear out more towns and neighborhoods of anti-government and criminal groups. This is not a big, or well reported, story. But over time it has led to more people out at night and more economic activity in more parts of the country. This is the real war.  


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