April 22, 2004

Falluja, Mosul, two cities...

Wretchard quotes this backgrounder on Fallujah from the Department of Defense:...

While Iraq is laced with antiquities, Fallujah isn't one of them. Just after World War II, the population of the town was around 10,000. The city, about 40 miles west of Baghdad, is on the edge of the desert, and now has about 300,000 citizens. It is a dry and arid landscape, made productive only because of extensive irrigation from the nearby Euphrates River. It was, however, located on the main routes into Jordan and Syria. And in crime, as in real estate, location is everything. The city was on the main route for smugglers, and sheltered a number of very successful crime lords...
And Andrew Sullivan has a a fascinating letter from a chaplain in Falluja:
...Nonetheless, in Faluja, the supposed hotbed of dissent in Iraq, countless Iraqis tell our psyopers they want to cooperate with us but are afraid the thugs will slit their throats or kill their kids. A bad gang can do that to a neighborhood and a town. That's what is happening here...
If you believe news reports, anywhere things are going badly is the real Iraq. And where they happen to be going well isn't considered "news."

But in fact, there are signs of things moving in the direction we hope them to go. If people like me think we should not panic yet, and not turn things over to the brave protectors of Rawanda, it's because of stories like this:

...Like the rest of Iraq, residents of Mosul had seen what was happening in Fallujah and had demonstrated. Unlike in the rest of the country, their demonstrations remained peaceful. "That was due to the early involvement of religious and government leaders, members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Iraqi Police," Ham said.

But when the attack came later that night, it was not Task Force Olympia's Stryker combat vehicles that answered the call. Instead, the men of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Iraqi police responded. "They stood strong," Ham said. "It was those forces that repelled the attack."

The galvanizing force was the governor of the province and the city, Ham said. "He never left the building, and his personal courage made a big difference," the general noted.

"The Iraqi people in Mosul got the message that here is a strong, democratic leader with a competent security force." Ham said.

He pointed out that the Iraqi Security Forces had to call on U.S. forces to help in only one incident that night, but all the heavy lifting was done by the Iraqis.

Ham said it was Iraqi leadership that made the difference with the security forces. He said he is very proud of them for the way they reacted...

I'm proud of them too. I've come to care about these people. Unlike the "anti"-war activists, who would dump them down the sewer if it would hurt Bush.

Mosul shows what Iraq could be. That's what we are fighting for. Not out of altruism, but because such a transformation in the very heart of the enemy realm, will be a blow more devastating to our enemies than any number of nukes. The "enemy realm" is not a place, but a culture that repeatedly brings forth terrorist groups. And we are planting a counter-culture in the midst of it.

One of these days Charlene and I (if we ever make any money) will vacation in Iraq. And feel smug. We will wear our Bush/Cheney pins, and be popular...(And if you think that sounds optimistic, reflect that we could do it right now in the Kurdish north. Those guys have made tremendous progress in just ten years, both in prosperity and freedom and democracy. I would make much of them, but the prune-faced crew would just sneer that Kurds are different, and that Arabsstill aren't suited for freedom, and would rather be ruled by strongmen. )

Posted by John Weidner at April 22, 2004 12:01 PM
Weblog by John Weidner