July 5, 2003

War Stories

As the frequency of guerilla bombings, shootings and attacks by what are presumed to be displaced Baathist soldiers and/or security forces increases, some media elements paint a picture of a "growing resistance" to the coalition. Implied in some accounts is that this is a "popular" resistance. Stories of targeted attacks, coupled with man-on-the-street interviews expressing a frustration with the U.S. presence could lead the reader to assume that those resisting the U.S. forces have some popular backing among regular Iraqi citizens. However, there seems to be no factual basis for this notion, if polls of Iraqis are to be believed.

A tape of a man purporting to be Saddam says he's alive , and encourages the resistance. The timing could have been better, I suppose, since U.S. spokesmen have been assuring us that these attacks do not appear to be coordinated in any way. If Saddam is alive, we know he has plenty of weapons and plenty of cash, and his loyalists know that they will never have the life of power and privilege that they enjoyed working for the dictator. To me the claims by U.S. leaders of "no coordination" are ringing a bit hollow these days.

I wonder and worry about the morale of our men and women in Iraq. They are no longer doing what they do best, and they've got to feel like sitting ducks, especially with the recent spate of attacks. VDH calls the situation "surreal". To say a Victor Davis Hanson article is worth reading seems a redundancy, so read it all. Here's one quick excerpt:

Marines and army units literally were asked to evolve from combatants to peacekeepers to reconstructionists in a matter of hours — as enemy soldiers who ran from battle, now on occasion shot at them for American felonies like directing traffic, seeking to restore electricity, and other unmentionables like treating the sick and organizing local councils....

....After risking American lives during the war to preserve Iraqi assets, our soldiers were then blamed for not anticipating that the Iraqis — unlike any liberated or occupied populace in history — would then themselves as natives destroy what we as foreigners had sought to save. Indeed, stung by charges of "occupation" and "imperialism," the American military erred for the first time, and for about 30 days sought an unrealistically low profile, worried that their presence would be deemed intrusive and thus aggravating to the sensitivities of the Iraqi public — only to be immediately condemned by the same citizenry as either naive or deliberately lax for not applying the iron hand to protect them from themselves.

As to the broader War on Terror, William Bacon has a Scorecard of sorts on Front Page Magazine, that documents some of the good news. And we're not fighting this thing alone, even though it sometimes seems that way. A recent Al Qaeda arrest in Pakistan , and a suicide in Saudi Arabia , are encouraging developments.

Here at home, we have heard critics on the left and on the right sound off about violations of our civil liberties as the Bush administration attempts to protect U.S. citizens in the War on Terror. Originally published in Commentary Magazine, and recently republished online at Front Page is a piece by Robert Bork, which debunks much of the scaremongering and misrepresentation that has characterized criticism of Ashcroft and Bush policies and initiatives.

UPDATE 7/6: The WSJ says we should admit that we are in a guerilla war in Iraq, instead of continuing to pretend that's not what it is.

Posted by dan at July 5, 2003 6:57 PM