Saturday, April 2, 2005

Beating the Terror Plague

The Strategy Page brings more glad tidings from the Iraqi security front:

April 1, 2005: Another major Shia religious festival, which lasted from 29-31 March, ended without incident. The government made a major effort to provide security for the large gatherings of Shia Arabs attending religious ceremonies. Sunni Arab terrorists, especially al Qaeda, consider these ceremonies a major insult to Sunni religious beliefs.

The government deployed a security effort on the same level as the one rolled out for the January elections. Coalition troops deployed mostly as back up and quick reaction forces. Al Qaeda tried to use suicide car bombers, but none of them got through to large assemblies of Shia Arabs. In one incident, a car bomb went off and killed five people, which was the most any of the attacks were able to do.

Another reason the attacks were not successful was that, in the days before March 29th, police arrested hundreds of Sunni Arabs and foreigners suspected of being terrorists. Many were, and this is because an increasing number of Sunni Arab religious leaders have changed their minds about armed resistance to democracy, and coalition forces. This has made it easier for Sunni Arabs to pass on information to the police.

The Sunni religious leaders have done the math and concluded that they were backing the losing side. Some have made deals with the government, to provide information, or pro-government sermons, in return for favorable treatment (money, access to jobs for their followers, reconstruction projects). But most have simply stopped preaching violence, or cut back on the intensity of their calls for violence against Kurds, Sunni Arabs and infidels (non-Moslems). Many Sunni Arab clerics have also noted that most of their followers are not in favor of terror attacks that kill Iraqis, no matter what their religion or ethnicity.

The terrorists have largely given up attacking American troops. The level of such attacks is about half what it was a year ago. The reason is that the attackers are much more likely to fail, and get killed, when they attack American troops. It's much easier, and safer, to attack Iraqi civilians, or even Iraqi police and troops. But the Iraqi government forces are becoming more lethal as well, and Iraqi government forces usually have American troops backing them up.

The impact of all this has been striking. The overall level of terrorist violence has fallen by about half in the last month. Terrorist attacks that target Iraqis has been very unpopular in Iraq, and caused even many Sunni Arabs to turn against al Qaeda and Sunni Arab terrorist organizations. But at the street level, most Iraqis are more concerned with criminal gangs (who commit far more violence against Iraqis than terrorists) and corruption (which is encountered daily, while you might go weeks without even hearing about a terror attack in your neighborhood.)

Pretty soon we'll begin to notice that there are no reports at all on the evening news about Iraq. Once there's no longer anything bad to report then the whole topic of Iraq will just drop off their radar screen.

Why Iran Is Important

This soon-to-appear television ad on Iran's terrorist designs will pretty much spoil your day. You can go here for an extended version, but it won't make you feel any better.

Thanks to Regime Change Iran for the tip.

Political Violence

The Left did a lot of hand-wringing during the two-week long judicial murder of Terri Schiavo about the possibility of "right-wing violence" (see here, for example). Yet almost all of the actual violence of the last couple of weeks has been perpetrated by Leftists against conservatives, and there's been nary a peep of censure from the hand-wringers about it.

Richard Perle, William Kristol, Ann Coulter, and Pat Buchanan have all been assaulted as they spoke on various campuses around the country. The attacks have not been physically serious, they involved shoes and pies being thrown at them, which says something for the level of argument to which the Left has been reduced, but imagine the outcry if, say, Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy had been attacked in like manner by conservative students while trying to give a speech. The MSM would be apoplectic over goose-stepping brown-shirts on college campuses seeking to stifle free speech.

As it is, the attacks do not come from the Right, so the media chooses not to rouse itself from its torpor.

Democracy in America

Listening to Michael Schiavo's lawyer George Felos expatiate on Terri Schiavo's last hours and the scrupulous attention to judicial punctilio which, in Felos' telling of it, led up to them, I was reminded of a passage from Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. Tocqueville, writing about the legislative extirpation of the Creek and Cherokee Indians in the 1830's, says this:

"...[T]he conduct of the United States...toward the natives was inspired by the most chaste affection for legal formalities....The Spaniards, by unparalleled atrocities which brand them with indelible shame, did not succeed in exterminating the Indian race and could not even prevent them from sharing their rights; the...Americans have attained both these results with wonderful ease, quietly, legally, and philanthropically, without spilling blood and without violating a single one of the great principles of morality in the eyes of the world. It is impossible to destroy men with more respect to the laws of humanity."

Tocqueville could have been writing, mutatis mutandis, about the judicial extirpation of Terri Schiavo.