Sunday, September 12, 2004

 

Bad Day In Baghdad.

The AP story here is pretty ugly.
Insurgents hammered central Baghdad on Sunday with one of their most intense
mortar and rocket barrages ever in the heart of the capital, heralding a day of violence that killed nearly 60 people nationwide as security appeared to spiral out of control.
There seems to have been coordinated attacks nationwide by one of the "second-tier" terrorist groups operating in Iraq. Looks like they made a play for some attention today.
A Bradley fighting vehicle rushing down Haifa Street, a major traffic artery near the Green Zone, to assist a U.S. patrol was disabled by a car bomb about 6:50 a.m., the U.S. military said. Two Bradley crewmen were wounded by the bomb and four were injured by grenades and small-arms fire as they fled the vehicle, the military said.

Jubilant fighters, curiosity seekers and young boys swarmed around the burning vehicle, dancing, cheering and hurling firebombs. Several young men placed a black and yellow banner of Tawhid and Jihad in the barrel of the Bradley's main gun.
I haven't seen pictures of this yet, but why do I feel safe in assuming the scene will look exactly like one of those inhuman Palestinian car swarms that Little Green Footballs always show?

These sorts of attacks are always a good tactic for insurgents. National coordination, or even simply the appearance of national coordination, implies strength. Attacks confined to Baghdad, Fallujah and Najaf allow the people to compartmentalize the insurgency, to ignore it to a certain extent. There are millions of Iraqis living outside of the combat zones, in "quiet" areas of the country that don't face fighting. Hell, some have never even seen an American soldier, nearly a year and a half after the invasion. But everybody gets newspapers, and a lot of Iraqis can watch the TV news, so days like today can be highly effective at spreading a general sense of chaos, and foster feelings of hopelessness in the face of terrorism.

Which, of course, is exactly what these guys want not only the Iraqis but also us Americans to feel, especially this close to an election. To assume that they're not playing to the audience assumes they are idiots. While they may employ some of the stupidest people on Earth, I do not think the Zarqawi and Sadr types are idiots. Their best hope at ending the occupation lies not in militarily defeating the United States. It doesn't even rest on inflicting intolerable casualties on American soldiers; I sincerely believe that Americans are willing to accept far more bloodshed than we have up to this point-- as long as we can feel a sense of "forward progress" in the war.

What the Iraqi insurgent strategy does intend to do is one of two things, and probably both at the same time: force the Iraqi government to make concessions that are contrary to American strategic interests, and force a change in American government policy.

The latter, of course, is best achieved by getting a Kerry Administration into office. I will not attempt to predict what he and his advisers would recommend once in office. Kerry has obviously spoke of his intentions to withdraw American soldiers as soon as it is feasible, but the timelines he gives are vague, ranging anywhere from six months to four years, depending upon the sources one reads.

Regardless of what eventually happens, I'm willing to bet my left arm that the insurgent leadership at least believes that getting a Kerry Administration will help them better achieve their goals. At the very least, a Bush defeat redefines the scope of the war on terror, and like the Spanish elections would permit the insurgents to portray a Bush defeat as a glorious success.

It's a tough war, folks. . . and it ain't gonna be over for a long time to come.

Comments:
Condi Rice:

There are those who say, "Well, if you didn't go into Iraq, there wouldn't be terrorists there." They weren't some place drinking tea and playing Scrabble. These are hardened Jihadists who will fight us some place. And if they want to fight us in Iraq, where we are 140,000 strong, better there than in New York City again.
 
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