Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Grinding the Enemy Down

Europeans and Asians are often distressed by the monomaniacal nature of American society. There is probably no deeper desire in US culture, with the possible exception of getting rich, than the desire to "get better" at something. In the guerilla war between the Ba'ath Party stay-behinds and the US Army, Saddam's men enjoyed the initial advantage of familiarity with both inhabitants and terrain, and a built-in network of contacts. How could they lose to newcomers? As the Belmont Club predicted, they would lose progressively, as the US singlemindedly built up their intelligence capabilities with all the focus that American monomania and resources could produce. The Americans would get "better" until they were the best. In particular, Americans would remember what the Ba'ath forgot: that those who have local friends have local enemies. The dollar and resentment creates informers.

Nowhere is this more evident than in this CNN report:

U.S. troops arrested the interim governor of Najaf on kidnapping and corruption charges Monday as they continued efforts to quell attacks on coalition troops in Iraq. The arrest of Abu Haydar Abdul Mun'im "demonstrates the coalition's determination to enforce the rule of law in Iraq," a statement from the U.S.-led provisional authority said. Mun'im's deputy will replace him as interim governor, the statement said. Mun'im is accused of kidnapping and holding hostages, pressuring government employees to perform financial crimes, attacking a bank official and stealing funds, the statement said. Details of the charges were not released. He was arrested at the request of Iraqi court officials in Najaf, south of Baghdad, and will be tried under Iraqi law, according to the coalition provisional authority.

Najaf, as the reader will recall, was one of the centers of Iraq resistance in the days after the Iraqi Army disintegrated. Note the shrewd use of "divide and conquer". The Christian Science Monitor, in an article entitled Iraqis begin warming to US presence describes this:

Starting at dawn Monday, American soldiers searching for weapons on the southern outskirts of Baghdad knocked on door after door, visiting house after house. On 2,300 separate visits, they were let in by quietly cooperative Iraqis, and then moved on. ... Another neighborhood this unit patrols divides evenly right down a main street - with slightly more posh houses on one side. On the "poorer" side, "they love us to death. You can't drink all the tea they offer us," Lt. Col. Haight says. But on the other side, full of Baath Party loyalists, it is "pretty anti-American."

Like all Third World societies, Iraq is divided into a set of oppressive haves and oppressed have-nots, a divide which Americans will ruthlessly exploit. By making the Iraq justice system work and by providing meritocratic channels for the poor to rise in society, the United States can trump guerilla warfare with class warfare. The Ba'ath ruling class will discover what the Royally appointed Tories learned in the War of Independence and what the southern slaveowners discovered during the Civil War: that the sword of freedom is terrible and swift, and that liberators can always find an abundance of allies among the downtrodden. That is something the Left, which speaks of liberation but acts to oppress, will never understand.