Jewish World Review Sept. 22, 2004 / 7 Tishrei, 5765

Jack Kelly

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Iraqis want their new government to succeed — does the media? | The National Intelligence Council, a collection of the poobahs from all of our intelligence agencies, has issued a pessimistic national intelligence estimate (NIE) on Iraq.

The estimate was given to President Bush in July. It is classified, but the rough outline of its contents have been leaked to journalists.

The NIE said there were three possible outcomes in Iraq over the next 18 months: civil war among the various ethnic/religious/tribal factions; partition, and a continuation of the status quo, with a continuation of the status quo being the outcome considered most likely.

The NIE was based on information gathered in April and May, when the situation in Iraq looked more bleak than it does now. This was the time of the on again/off again offensive in Fallujah, and the Moqtada al Sadr's first uprising in Najaf.

A Marine major on the staff of the MultiNational Force thinks things have gotten a lot better since April and May.

"The naysayers will point to the recent battles in Najaf and draw parallels between that and what happened in Fallujah in April. They aren't even close," said the major in an email to friends. "The bad guys did us a huge favor by gathering in one place and trying to make a stand...Al Sadr's troops were thoroughly smashed.

"Before the battle, residents of the city were afraid to walk the streets. Now Najafians can and do walk the streets in safety. Commerce has returned and the city is being rebuilt. Iraqi security forces and U.S. troops are welcomed and smiled upon."

The major also pointed to a largely unreported triumph in Samarra: "Two weeks ago, that Sunni Triangle city was a no-go area for U.S. troops,' he said. But guess what? The locals got sick of living in fear from the insurgents and foreign fighters and let them know they weren't welcome. The mayor of the town brokered a deal with the U.S. commander to return Iraqi government sovereignty to the city without a fight."

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There has been an upsurge of violence in Iraq — most of it directed at Iraqis — as the terrorists seek to influence our election, and to disrupt the Iraqi elections scheduled for January. But media reports that the "insurgency" is gaining ground are no more genuine than Dan Rather's memos on President Bush's National Guard service.

"Suicide bombing attacks on police facilities, and gun battles against police patrols in Sunni Arab areas have not worked," said in a Sept. 19th analysis. "The police continue to recruit, and police patrols grow larger and more aggressive as they move into Sunni Arab neighborhoods in cities like Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul, and arrest known or suspected terrorists and armed anti-government activists. A growing network of informers in Sunni-controlled areas provide targets for daily bombing attacks."

American forces recently passed 1,000 deaths from all causes in Iraq. But casualties in the war in Iraq remain astonishingly low, compared to earlier conflicts.

The Iraqi Health Ministry announced Sept. 3rd that in the previous four months, 2,956 Iraqis died as a result of anti-government violence. This is an annual death rate from violence of 48 per 100,000, far higher than the 5.6 deaths per 100,000 Americans suffer from violent crime, but less than the 56 per 100,000 violent deaths in South Africa, where there is no war. And most of the Iraqi deaths are insurgents killed by U.S. and Iraqi security forces, which have been inflicting fatalities on about a 50:1 ratio.

Contrary to vague news reports of a "widening conflict," an analysis of where casualties are being inflicted indicates the conflict is still restricted largely to the Sunni triangle areas where it has always been. Two thirds of the country and three quarters of the population are relatively peaceful.

"You may here analysts and prognosticators on CNN, ABC and the like talking about how bleak the situation is here in Iraq, but from where I sit, it's looking significantly better now than when I got here," the Marine major said. "It is very demoralizing for us here in uniform to read and hear such negativity in our press. It is fodder for our enemies to use against us and against the vast majority of Iraqis who want their new government to succeed."

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

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