Thursday, September 25, 2003

The People's War

Well Salam Pax was right. The media was next. In a post dated right after the bombing of mosque at Najaf, he wrote:

Beside the significance of assassinating an Ayatollah these fuckers did it in front of an entrance to Imam Ali’s shrine. What idiot would do that? It is the same question everyone was asking about the bombing of the UN building, what sort of person would do this sort of thing? ... Whoever did this is pure evil. The UN, an assassination in front of Imam Ali’s shrine. You wonder what will come next. If you ask me I think it will be media.

Today, the Baghdad headquarters of NBC news was bombed by persons unknown. The NBC's David Moodie, who was slightly injured in the blast said, "It's not the most secure building. It's on a fairly well-traveled street. There's no sign saying 'NBC News,' but we've got our live position on the roof, and at night it's lit up like a Christmas tree." An Iraqi security guard died in the attack.

Iraqis have been doing a lot of the dying in other news, too. Akila al-Hashemi, a woman member of Iraq's Governing Council, died on from wounds from an earlier assasination attempt. On September 23 another Iraqi security guard died defending the United Nations Baghdad headquarters from another car bombing.

The 'mounting' US casualties so ardently forecast by the Left have not materialized. The targets proved too hard and the terrorist losses too high to make it a working proposition. So the Ba'athist 'resistance' has turned to killing women, minimum wage security guards and newsies. It will take a little while for the media to find an angle that will allow them to cheer this murder of innocents on, but they can be depended on to search until they find a suitable justification. They're good at that.

Yet however the press breathlessly packages it, this pathetic 'guerilla warfare' will fail utterly. For guerilla war to work, it requires a sanctuary for training (liberated base area) and a political arm (national united front). The so called 'resistance' has neither. Terrorist tactics that work in Arab countries where the police are either inept or complicit in their outrages will not succeed where US counterstrike forces are a phone call away. Terrorism against locals creates local enemies. Without a secret police to overawe them, the Iraqis will discover the power of vengeance is simply a phone call away; that life is easier with several thousand dollars in reward money than it is with empty pockets; that since the Ba'athist 'resistance' is out to kill them, they might as well return the courtesy.

Yet the most surprising thread running through the recent attacks is that they can no longer be characterized, except through tortured reasoning, as attacks against occupation forces. They are attacks against Iraqi civil society. From Al Jazeera through to Tikrit the enemy is beginning to see that the greatest threat to their regional hegemony may not be the armored might of the US Army but the subversive example of the burgeoning Iraqi nation. Donald Rumsfeld's remarkable Washington Post piece put it defiantly:

"We are not in Iraq to engage in nation-building -- our mission is to help Iraqis so that they can build their own nation. That is an important distinction.

And despite their pretensions to the contrary the Islamists and the old international guard are beginning to fear that a new and prosperous Iraq whose changes they publicly scorn, might actually be emerging. Rumsfeld continues:

A foreign presence in any country is unnatural. It is much like a broken bone. If it's not set properly at the outset, the muscles and tendons will grow around the break, and eventually the body will adjust to the abnormal condition. This is what has happened in some past nation-building exercises. ... East Timor is one of the poorest countries in Asia, yet the capital is now one of the most expensive cities in Asia. Local restaurants are out of reach for most Timorese and cater to international workers, who are paid 200 times the average local wage. ... Or take Kosovo. A driver shuttling international workers around the capital earns 10 times the salary of a university professor, and the U.N. administration pays its local staff between four and 10 times the salary of doctors and nurses. ... to this day, Kosovar ministers have U.N. overseers with the power to approve or disapprove their decisions.

No one hates a winner like a loser. While it is too early to declare victory, it is probably fair to say that the enemy which trembles at the child's laugh; hisses in hate at woman's achievement; and scorns the man's honest toil has turned his fingers reflexively toward the hilt of the sword, so rampant on his banner. Yet he cannot flail out openly while transfixed in doubt and fear by the shadow of America. And one day, when his intended victims have grown to strength and confidence, he will not be able to strike at all.