Michael Ubaldi, January 13, 2005.
Is the continued presence of organized and active terrorists in Iraq enough to confirm their ability? Does it reflect success? I answer in the resounding negative. The enemy's primary objective has been to disrupt Iraq's reformation, its reconstruction and its transcendence of authoritarian tradition. All three of these labors proceed, and their administrators can produce evidence of progress since March of 2003.
In most of Iraq, the daily routine has settled into the common denominator that modern men know as "normal": a home, a job, merchants from whom to buy goods. Even if there weren't killers dedicating their misspent lives to Iraqi misery, life is difficult; but then picking up the pieces left by despotism is never, ever easy. The official document and the odd Iraqi's anecdote report construction, from cultivation of dirt to development of metal and concrete, as moving forward; not as quickly and confidently as it would without sabotage and murder, though never stopping, managed in the most unlikely places. The market is expanding and the dinar is stable. Iraqi soldiers and policemen brave hits and intimidation on and off the job; prospective recruits remain undaunted by palpable risks. A broad electorate is ready to vote, and the state has promised to give it a means to do so.
Iraq's enemies have yet failed.
There are counters: Could terrorists count their losses and lie in wait? For what? Where? The American military's hammer has been granted four more years to swing while the Iraqi common good is making for a sturdier anvil, and coordination between the two improves. Another counter: What about tribes, familial ties and their impediment to pluralism? That's a selective take on history. Society is subordinate to governance, not the other way around. Every culture has manifested rule of the strong in its own way but the mass democratization of countries over six decades — particularly Germany and Japan, the former for its deep roots in Teutonic, pagan tribalism and the latter for its remarkably undeveloped regard for individual dignity and self-determination — proves that, with resolve, the old ways can be stopped dead in a matter of a few years.
Criticism of the war effort, even that which is intended to strengthen, cannot rest its case on the fact that evil men still prowl Iraq's streets and hurt good people. A persistent, mindless assault, the basest form of rule by strength, is what Near East fascism offers. It is perversive, accomplishing the most damage inside the village walls. Once the enemy is inside, reason and civility — found abundantly among free men — are twisted into weakness. I sought to encapsulate it here:
Iraq, and to a lesser extent, Afghanistan, are prime examples of terrorism point-blank, a full-throated, viral onslaught against an open society. There is no longer any Saddamite Mukhabarat, no network of informants, no Babylonian Big Brother tracking every citizen and holding an impenetrable monopoly on the methods and execution of strength through fear. In today's Iraq there is an Allied military force with far-reaching intelligence capabilities but one that inherits the limitations of freeborn men — that is, the inclination to leave most people in peace and quiet — while the Iraqis themselves must welcome the enfranchisement of life based on law and trust but bear its vulnerabilities.
While patrolling the city, Iraqi Police reported to their Joint Coordination Center a suspicious vehicle was parked near the Tikrit Provincial police station about 9:20 a.m. on Jan. 11. The Iraqi Police were preparing to investigate when the vehicle concealed improvised explosive device detonated.
Wretchard of Belmont Club aptly described the current exchange between free and fascist with the phrase "trading punches." He did not assign values; I will. The enemy is swinging wide or short, in perpetual reverse gear on a shrinking mat. Stamina may prove irrelevant if the champion can muster a knockout. Is it coming? The best mark of the rule of law is whether crimes against the people enjoy impunity or risk liability. Terrorist cells continue to be rolled up. More suspects in Ali al-Haidri's assassination are in custody. The Iraqi policemen who helped nab them have just been joined by 1,600 fellows. Who is winning? Don't ask those who will deprive us of the better by insisting on the perfect. Ask the millions of Iraqis who head to polls at the end of this month.
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