Got to hand it to the new Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Here's a guy who, less than two months on the job, has discovered the real enemy of his country. It's not, of course, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- he's dead. It's not other mass murderers of jihad who blow up markets and shoot up schools, who kidnap and maim and chop off heads. It's neither Baathist party holdouts nor "sectarian" violence. It doesn't come from Al Qaeda, and it doesn't come from Iran.
The enemy of Iraq comes from Haditha.
Haditha, of course, is the Iraqi town where American troops are alleged to have killed civilians on Nov. 19, 2005. If American society were not suicidal and self-loathing, this singular incident would be seen in the context of the greater war effort. If American society were not suicidal and self-loathing, the rush to judgment would halt in the imagined tracks of fellow Americans on patrol among hostile, even murderous townspeople. But no. American society is indeed suicidal and self-loathing, so Haditha is portrayed as the culmination of the war even as we giddily judge ourselves guilty as thrillingly charged. But that hardly excuses al-Maliki.
The New York Times reported his reaction to Haditha on its front page. The prime minister "lashed out at the American military," the newspaper wrote, "denouncing what he characterized as habitual attacks by troops against Iraqi civilians." The Times quoted al-Maliki as saying violence against civilians had become "a daily phenomenon" -- the next edition of the paper corrected this phrase to "regular occurrence" -- by many American troops who "do not respect the Iraqi people." al-Maliki went on: "They (the Americans) crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable."
What's completely unacceptable are al-Maliki's hyperbolic remarks. Iraq, drenched in American blood, littered with American limbs, is a land of American sacrifice. The goal of this sacrifice is a stable and peaceable Iraq that is no party to Islamic terrorism. Frankly, this is all very generous of us because, as far as strictly American interests go, we could certainly achieve an Iraq that is no party to Islamic terrorism without bothering with the stable and peaceable part -- and at much less American sacrifice.