Al-Qaida's now-deceased emir in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, understood the stakes. In a message to al-Qaida (intercepted by the Coalition in February 2004), Zarqawi wrote that after Iraqis run their own government, U.S. troops will remain, "but the sons of this land will be the authority. ... This is the democracy. We will have no pretexts." Iraq's new army and police will link with the people "by lineage, blood and appearance."
The terrorists and tyrants understand. It's a shame America's chatterers don't.
Unable to defeat coalition soldiers or dim liberty's appeal, Zarqawi and his terror clique chose Iraqi civilians as their target. They concluded that an Islamic sectarian war between Shia and Sunni was the only way al-Qaida would avoid defeat. That might entail temporarily placing a secular Saddam-type tyrant in power -- hence the short-term cooperation with thugs from the former regime. Al-Qaida and the Saddamists bet their bombs would break the Iraqi people. That has not happened. They know their resiliency is a stinging rebuke of terror and tyranny.
Targeting the vulnerable is the same tactic the Ku Klux Klan used to enforce segregation in America's South. The Klan burned African-American churches instead of mosques, but the Klan, al-Qaida and Saddamist fascists target a population with similar technique and tyrannical viciousness.
Most of us are glad the FBI didn't pull out of Mississippi and Alabama in 1963. The analogy isn't direct -- Baghdad isn't Birmingham. However, the goal of ending the oppressive destruction of lives is both comparable and noble.
The Iraqi people are earning their victory and their liberty. The price for both is inevitably paid in blood, sweat and toil. At this point in history, they need American patience.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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