1) Since Ramadan started, violence has been up about 25%.
2) The south has been quiet. Remember when we had daily attacks on oil pipelines and convoys down there? Hardly any of that anymore. I think a big reason for this is Sistani's growing influence and his vocal support of the elections. The success in Najaf probably helped as well. There's some other stuff, but I'd have to kill you if I told you about it...
3) The north (especially Mosul) is not quiet. There's a noticable increase in violence up there in the past few weeks. It's fairly obvious that the insurgents are pouring out of Fallujah, Samarra, et al and heading north in the hopes of finding a more "suitable" environment. I think they are destined for dissapointment.
Why are they leaving the Sunni Triangle?
I see a couple reasons for this.
First the most obvious- we've been making Fallujah a not-so-great place for them to live. Nightly air raids and daily checkpoints around the city make it tough for them to get any work done. It's hard to execute a good plan when you're dead.
The second reason is not as obvious, but even more important- the people in the Sunni Triangle are sick of the violence. It took them a long time to figure it out, but they're finally starting to realize the truth. I can't blame them for taking so long. We have to understand how difficult it is for them to fully understand what is real and what isn't. Al Jazeera, the most watched channel in Iraq, reports everything with an anti-coalition slant- "US slaughters 12 innocent women and children" "Coalition martyrs 3 car bombers" "Israel believed responsible as 34 Iraqi children slaughtered by car bomber" "US to hand control of Iraq to Israel by end of 2005" You get the idea- most of it's too ridiculous to even comprehend. The insurgents reiterate and repeat these bogus stories and offer to protect the frightened civilians from the "evil American oil-thieves." We can't force the people to watch different channels. We can't even force Al Jazeera off the air (although that would help a lot). The only thing we can do is what we've always been doing- let our actions do the talking. Build up the infrastructure. Protect and serve. It may take some time, but eventually the people begin to notice that what they see on TV does not mesh with the reality being played out before them. It's finally happening in that region. What the insurgents are certain to find out is that the people up north have known the truth for quite some time. The insurgents will not be welcome up there. The good people of Mosul will sell them out much faster than the folks in Fallujah did. Uday and Qusay would back me up on this one, but they're too dead right now. The insurgents are starting to look more and more like dollar signs to the newly opportunistic violence-weary populace. This is not good news for the insurgency. Hopefully, a successful election will compound their problems. I agree with Mohammed from Baghdad:
We will triumph and our patience and belief in our cause are our weapons and the support we get from freedom lovers from all over the world encourages us to move on and fight with more faith in victory.The pessimism we’re being flooded by from the media began to lose its 'glitter' and a bunch of terrorists backed by a bunch of “abduction scholars” will not succeed to steal the dreams of a nation.
Read the rest at Iraq the Model (thank you Sara).
Why Did We Have To Do This?
I'm amazed by how often I hear this question- even today. It's clear that many people in this country still don't understand why we had to forcefully remove Saddam from power. Many people want to blame this on the politicians- especially Bush. I won't defend the politicians for "failing to get the word out," but I will offer an alternative blame scenario. What if it's not the politician's fault? What if it's the media's fault? What if the politicians presented a dozen reasons for the invasion- each reason a perfectly good justification in and of itself- but the only thing ever reported by the media is "there were no weapons of mass destruction." Is that Bush's fault? Is it the media's fault? What if the media is only pandering to the demands of the common people? Is it then our fault? How can we demand the truth when all we want to hear is controversy? The media chases ratings, and the numbers don't lie. I just think these are reasonable questions that are seldom asked and never answered. I bring it up because I just read some excerpts from an upcoming Rolling Stone interview with Eminem. Here's what Slim Shady had to say:
He’s (Bush) been painted to be this hero and he’s got our troops over there dying for no reason. I haven’t heard an explanation yet that I can understand. Explain to us why we have troops over there dying.
My question to Eminem would be simple- Why do you have to understand the explanation in order for it to be valid? It's bad enough that Kerry wants a "Global Test"- could you imagine the strain on our national defense capability if we had to vet our foreign policy decisions through an "Eminem Test?" I wonder if Eminem ever read a book about Saddam or the Middle East in general? I wonder if Eminem is smart enough to understand the following passage from this Charles Moore article from the Telegraph:
Bush has got the big idea. There is a global problem with Islamism. There is a problem of alliances between bad states and terror organisations that reach beyond state boundaries. There is an almost universal rottenness in the politics of the Arab world. There is an atrocious weakness or, as the UN oil-for-food scandal shows, worse than weakness, in many of the Western nations and international organisations that are supposed to help guarantee our security. And it is the duty of the most powerful nation on earth to do something about it.
There are thousands of articles like this one out there. There are hundreds of books as well. The mainstream media has no interest in presenting you with this kind of information. The mainstream media wants to give you whatever supports their bottom line- determined by focus groups and ratings. Get your information spoon-fed to you by the mainstream media and I promise you- you'll be as clueless as Eminem. You'll get "brain candy." You will be made to feel that you are on the cutting edge of current events- that you've been given a real-time feed of the truth as it stands right now. They'll tell you that you can't afford not to watch- you never know when that alert level might change to orange. But underneath it all, you'll only be seeing what the media thinks you want to see. If you want the real truth, you'll have to go find it on your own.
I would guess that Eminem is probably not smart enough to understand the global problem with Islamic governments or the dynamic challenges posed by Islamofascism. I would guess that he has no clue about the unbelievable implications of the current oil-for-food scandal. I'd like to ask him what he thinks about the US as the only superpower in the world today. What does it mean in a global sense? What are the socioeconomic and geopolitical implications? How does it affect our strategic alliances with European nations? Middle Eastern nations? I'd love to ask him these things. You know what I'd get? That's right- a blank stare. Eminem blames Bush for not being able to explain the reasons for war in a way that Eminem can understand. I blame Eminem, because he makes no effort to understand. He could prove me wrong about this by answering some of those questions I cooked up for him. Think anyone will ever ask him those questions? No- it'll never happen, because no sane journalist is dumb enough to believe he'd even understand the questions, much less give a coherent answer. Eminem doesn't want to understand this war- but he loves to mouth off about it. And there are a lot of people like Eminem out there.