Thursday, August 07, 2003

Intifada 2.0?-That's what Iraq is starting to feel like. The latest bombing of the Jordanian embassy smells like something Hamas would do. The nearly-daily sniper attacks and bombings are designed to get the Americans to go home. There are three problems with that Baathist hard-case strategy. The first is that the Iraqi people aren't behind the Baathists, whereas a plurality of the Palestinians seem to be behind the autoboomers there. The bad guys are being turned in at a steady rate, so this appears to be a scorched-earth strategy. There's only an outside shot that they'll win, but to give up would likely mean spending a long stretch in jail. The second is that the Baathists have a finite amount of resources. The Palestinian terrorists have plenty of help from overseas, while the Baathists have little but what they had stashed overseas and underground while they were in power. I don't see them getting more than a token amount of help from Arab militants elsewhere. The Baathist resistance is a finite well that is going dry quickly. The third is that they don't have a cause that excites the Iraqi people. Returning to a thuggish government isn't a great idea, and Ahmed Doe knows that. If they let the Americans do their thing, they'll have something resembling a representative democracy in a year or two. If they resist, they get Return of Saddam. That's one sequel the Iraqis don't want to see at the theaters. We may have people striving for a third option, some sort of Islamic state, but if we show efforts at an honest democracy, the Islamist minority can get nudged aside. Liberals and paleocons will likely bring up the prospect of a quagmire, and there will be a partial truth to their critiques; this is bloodier than most of us counted on. The peace is almost more deadly that the war. However, when we're done over their, we'll have one more democracy and one less tyrant, and the lives spent making it so will be lives well spent.

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