Peters: Iraq Transition is Working
Ralph Peters offers easily the cheeriest analysis of the current situation in Iraq that I have encountered from a knowledgable observer:
THE reporting out of Baghdad continues to be hysterical and dishonest. There is no civil war in the streets. None. Period.
Terrorism, yes. Civil war, no. Clear enough?
Yesterday, I crisscrossed Baghdad, visiting communities on both banks of the Tigris and logging at least 25 miles on the streets. With the weekend curfew lifted, I saw traffic jams, booming business — and everyday life in abundance.
Yes, there were bombings yesterday. The terrorists won’t give up on their dream of sectional strife, and know they can count on allies in the media as long as they keep the images of carnage coming. They’ll keep on bombing. But Baghdad isn’t London during the Blitz, and certainly not New York on 9/11.
It’s more like a city suffering a minor, but deadly epidemic. As in an epidemic, no one knows who will be stricken. Rich or poor, soldier or civilian, Iraqi or foreigner. But life goes on. No one’s fleeing the Black Death — or the plague of terror.
And the people here have been impressed that their government reacted effectively to last week’s strife, that their soldiers and police brought order to the streets. The transition is working.
While his underlying observations are likely right — most Iraqis just want to go on with their lives and each attack just makes them hate the terrorists more — this conclusion does not necessarily follow.
Collect relatively isolated events in a chronological list and presto: the impression of uninterrupted, widespread violence destroying Iraq. But that was a false impression. Every day, coalition forces were moving thousands of 18-wheelers from Kuwait and Turkey into Iraq, and if the “insurgents” were lucky they blew up one. However, flash the flames of that one rig on CNN and, “Oh my God, America can’t stop these guys,” is the impression left in Boise and Beijing.
It is certainly the case that isolated attacks by guerrillas and terrorists can give the impression of a situation much worse than it is. After all, no one claims that the Israeli experiment with democracy is failing when they have a run of suicide bombers.
Still, if the violence in the streets can discourage Bill Buckley and Bill Kristol from the safety of their living rooms, one imagines that it is much harder to keep the faith in the streets of Baghdad.