It’s Not Saddam’s Country Any More

Logistics meant that I couldn’t be in front of a computer until tonight, but the reality is that it wouldn’t have mattered because I have been speechless in the face of events in Iraq.

I don’t for a moment believe that today’s vote means that things are over, peace has come, and Starbucks’ will start setting up in Fallouja any time soon. But I do believe – strongly – that it shows the strength of the average Iraqi who wants, more than anything, a decent peaceful future for themselves and their children and were willing to brave incredible (and really, unfulfilled) threats of violence to make that happen.

It’s their country now, not Saddam’s.I’ve been betting on the existence of the ‘silent middle’ in Iraq and throughout the Muslim world, and I’ll take a stand here and say that what this election proves, conclusively, is that such a middle exists. Now we’d damn well better do a good job of reaching out to them.

Today also, I think, demonstrated something that I’ve been arguing for a while – the shallowness of the violent opposition in Iraq.

Today’s violent acts (listed at Counterterrorism Blog) were:

Al-Qaida’s Committee in Iraq–led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi–has claimed responsibility for the following incidents on election day:

* At least four coordinated attacks on election centers in and around Baghdad
* A rocket barrage fired at the protected Green Zone in Baghdad
* The destruction of a U.S. armored vehicle in Mosul
* The destruction of an Iraqi army Humvee with a large roadside bomb in Mosul
* Two separate mortar attacks on the same election center in the Wahdah neighborhood of Mosul
* A mortar and small arms attack on an election center in the Al*Nahrwan neighborhood of Mosul
* A small arms attack on the election center in the Andalusia neighborhood of Mosul
* A mortar attack on the election center in the Palestine neighborhood of Mosul.
* Various other alleged operations in Tel Afar, Ar*Ramadi, and the Diyala province

I count a total of 12 events…nationwide.

CNN has a list of 14 attacks.

Is this the best that Al-Zarqawi can do? In the face of the single event that would permanently set back the legitimacy of his cause?

I think it probably is, and that means something – it means that what we are facing is not a deeply rooted national revolt against an occupying power, but a thinly spread, well organized and skilled group of increasingly isolated fanatics.

We stayed the night at a friend’s – who has a TV set and cable – and watched CNN all morning. Christina Amanapour mentioned (and I can’t find it on the CNN site) that an ambulance full of terrorists was driving through a neighborhood in Baghdad tossing grenades – and that a group of neighbors encircled it and captured the terrorists inside.

I hope it’s true, because when the Iraqis realize that it’s their country, meybe they’ll have something to say to Al-Zarqawi and his kin about it.

12 thoughts on “It’s Not Saddam’s Country Any More”

  1. FH, that was a great question you asked!! I loved what the panelists said in response.
    But my favorite was Mohammed from Baghdad– when they asked if he was Shi’ia or Sunni, he said, “I’m an Iraqi”.

    Oh, frabjous day!

  2. I hope it’s true, because when the Iraqis realize that it’s their country, meybe they’ll have something to say to Al-Zarqawi and his kin about it.

    Which Iraqis? Members of the Baath nomenklatura? Officers of the former army? Ordinary Sunnis terrified of a Shiite state? These people may not be a majority of the population but they’re not likely to sit back and watch events from their living rooms.

    And what if the Shiites realize it’s “their country” and decide to proclaim a theocracy? Is this really so unthinkable? Or what if the Kurds decide they desire a particularly robust form of federalism?

    If we’re very, very lucky, Sistani will pressure the Shiite delegates to a) permit a secular government, and b) ask the USA to leave by July 1. We should go.

  3. “And what if the Shiites realize it’s “their country” and decide to proclaim a theocracy? Is this really so unthinkable? Or what if the Kurds decide they desire a particularly robust form of federalism?

    If we’re very, very lucky, Sistani will pressure the Shiite delegates to a) permit a secular government, and b) ask the USA to leave by July 1. We should go.”

    Without trying to be rude, you don’t seem to have a very deep knowledge of the situation in Iraq.

    There are simply not enought supporters of theocracy among the Shia to bring about a copy of Iran. And Sistani is not fond of the Iranian model at all, and since he carries considerable weight among the religious Shia, you can dismiss that issue out of hand.

    The Kurds will want a strong Federalism, to be sure, but they will recognize they are much safer in a greater Iraq than a landlocked Kurdish state without any friends close by.

    As for when the US should go, that depends on the security situation in Iraq. Once the Iraqis can handle most of the security needs themselves, we should start packing up. That could be sooner or later, but hopefully sooner.

  4. One of Andrew Sullivan’s readers suggests painting your index finger purple in solidarity with the Iraqis. One step further – perhaps we could compile a photo album of folks here holding up purple index fingers – a kind of “we’re with you and we get it” message and a riposte to the “we’re sorry!” photo albums compiled in the wake of Bush’s re-election. Something FoD could host maybe? See also here.

  5. There are simply not enought supporters of theocracy among the Shia to bring about a copy of Iran. And Sistani is not fond of the Iranian model at all, and since he carries considerable weight among the religious Shia, you can dismiss that issue out of hand.

    How do you know? Sistani, remember, is still an Iranian citizen. We in the USA have been exposed to a raft of anecdotes but nothing like a real impartial view of public opinion. Remember that the theocrats in Iran at least have the electricity grid up and the plumbing working. The USA has not quite managed that. It’s far from unlikely that there’s a whole passel of Iranian agents whispering in the ears of southern Iraqis, too.

    I hope that stories out of Basra regarding popular disgust with the heavy-handed mullahs are true. But hope is not a plan.

    What if we’re wrong? Will the USA permit a theocracy? Will Saudi Arabia? Will we have a choice?

    Once the Iraqis can handle most of the security needs themselves, we should start packing up.

    Well, that’s rather imprecise. Who decides this? Sistani? Or an increasingly restive American Congress? How many more $80 billion supplementals will Bush be asking for? How many more extended tours?

  6. And what if the Shiites realize it’s “their country” and decide to proclaim a theocracy? Is this really so unthinkable? Or what if the Kurds decide they desire a particularly robust form of federalism?

    Worse yet, what if the Fantastic Four were to lose all of their super-powers?

    I think the cynics need to make up their minds whether Iraqis are mono-maniacal nationalists (a “fact” which we were recently lectured about) or separatists who are all itching to secede from each other. Figure out which one of those presents the worst possible scenario, and stick with it.

    This morning I spent some time reading Daily Kos, where commenters were saying we should go home and “allow” Iraq to be split into a tripartite state. Otherwise, they think, we’ll wind up backing a Kurdish puppet regime in a proxy war against a zillion Shi’ite Ayatollah-Khomeini-wannabes. Then the polar ice caps will melt, and everybody in the world will drown …

  7. Marxo-Defeatocrats: carp,carp,carp,carp,carp,carp,carp,carp

    Only marginally, microscopically above the “Bushitler” “No Blood For Oil!” crap

    Cultural Marxism will let Europe and canada fall under Sharia Law.

    Leftist solution ? “Surrender!”:http://powerlineblog.com/archives/009398.php

    The Stalinist left are evil, the defeatist left are pathetic. both are a culture of death.

  8. _Ordinary Sunnis…_

    Umm, stickler, forgive me for pointing this out but i thought perhaps you knew– the Kurds are Sunni. You need to differntiate beween arab Sunni and kurdish Sunni.

  9. WIth that vote, Saddam was officially consigned to the dustbin of history.

    HOw arrogant and condescending of you ignorant lib***t jerks who seem to think that Iraq is incapable of goiverning its own affairs responsibly. I woudl trust a government run by Iraqis over a government run by your ilk any day. At least the Iraqis have an idea what the loss of freedom means, they have experience with Tyranny. They know what its like to live at the whim of a madman. Brings me in mind, perhaps, of places like Poland or several of the states of the former Soviet Union. Places that can truly and viscerally appreciate what they have gained because people will remember when they didn’t have it.

    So go stick your head back in that dark place its been occupying, go back and weave your little conspiracy theories and whining about “Bushhitler” and complaining, and in the meantime, I’ll celebrate the freesom of more than 20,000,000 people like a civilized and empathic human being.\

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