The Therapy Sessions
Friday, August 22, 2003
The media, as usual, is missing the story about this whole Iraq "quagmire:" Our enemies have made a clear change in strategy.
Direct attacks on our soldiers have decreased, and there have been a number of attacks on lightly defended "soft" targets (the UN, the Jordanian Embassy, the oil pipeline, and the water pipeline).
They are trying now to inflame things, attacking sites with the intention of screwing things up. Using bombings, they intend to create Iraqi civil war between Iraq's factions.
Attacking American troops head on hasn't stopped. But in changing strategy, the enemy is acknowledging that this tactic isn't doing the two things it was meant to do: inspire Americans to give up (the strategy worked in Somalia and Lebanon, but is has been failing since 9/11) and inspire large numbers of nationalist Iraqis to join the jihad against the infidels.
Attacking US soldiers directly is expensive, in terms of both people and money. Even the Iraqi mafia is demanding big money to fire a RPG at a US humvee, and few of the attackers are returning to attack again. The attacks are pinpricks against a force of 140,000, and could be endured for a hundred years, if necessary.
That is too long for the Baathists - whose ability to inspire fear among Iraqis is rapidly disappearing.
To make matters worse, In a country where nearly everyone has an AK-47, few regular people were showing much stomach for the struggle (this is a particularly bitter pill for the Arab world). This is a difficult time in which Iraq faces an uncertain future, but most Iraqis are in no mood for a civil war.
The Baathists have lost heart, and they have given up trying to get their country back. They are sullen and frustrated, and they realize that the Americans are staying.
Our enemy is now changing.
Baathists are usually not suicide attackers:loyalty to Hussein does not extend into the afterlife. Many of the people we are now encountering in Iraq are Islamic groups like Al Qaeda who are in it for the long haul. They have every interest in turning Iraq into chaos.
We are fighting terrorists now.
The enemy is trying new things to try to make people angry enough to fight each other, if not the Americans. Their strategy is that the Americans will be unable to prevent Iraq from tearing itself apart. But the good news is this: It is clear to everyone (except the French) that the coalition is staying put. Even Howard Dean realizes it.
And it is important that the message be heard loud and clear.
The arrival of Al Qaeda in Iraq is both ominous and reassuring. It is ominous because Al Qaeda is formidable and crafty enemy that will use desperate measures to kill Americans. It is reassuring because the Americans they are choosing to attack are our professional soldiers in Iraq (not civilians in Manhattan).
Luckily for us, terrorists are not motivated by clear strategic thinking: destroying water pipelines and killing Ayatollahs is no way to win the hearts of the Iraqi people. But they don't care about the people anymore.
The war on terror will be won or lost in Iraq.