December 17, 2005


Election Day on the Euphrates: Democracy vs. Zarqawi (Bill Roggio, 12/26/2005, Weekly Standard)

In the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar, the cities of Barwana, Haqlaniya, and Haditha are collectively known as the Triad. Over the summer, before the joint U.S. military and Iraqi forces established a security presence in the Triad, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's commander in Iraq, was said to have run up the black flag and declared the region an "Islamic Republic." Beheadings, hangings, and execution-style killings were routinely carried out against those who were believed to have cooperated with U.S. forces or the Iraqi government.

On Election Day last week, the atmosphere in the Triad was quite different. In the city of Barwana, with a population of approximately 20,000, voters showed up in droves. The process was more or less orderly, and no one was harassed for participating. I observed all this as an embed with Lima Company of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, the unit assigned to ensure the security of the city in conjunction with the Iraqi Army.

The polling site in Barwana was on the Euphrates River, between hills and a teeming palm grove, a welcome site in the land of deserts. The voting center was easy to secure as well as accessible to the residents. But there seemed to be a hidden meaning behind its placement. The voting center sat directly beneath the recently destroyed Barwana bridge, where Zarqawi terrorists had routinely executed residents. And the building itself used to be the headquarters of the local Baath party. If there was a message here, it was this: The old order is dead, and a new government has replaced the repressive regimes that once dominated the Triad and Iraq.

As in the wars against Nazism and Communism, folks underestimate the advantage we have thanks to our enemy being delusional.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 17, 2005 12:46 PM

Bill Roggio has done yeoman's work explaining the military situation in Iraq. Stuff you just can't find in the MSM. Honest journalists ... if that's not an oxymoron ... should be ashamed of their coverage.

Posted by: ghostcat at December 17, 2005 2:36 PM

The point about the delusional enemies is very well taken. It is very hard for Americans to understand that a major failing of the various opponents we have crushed over the years has been their civilian, i.e. political, control over their militaries.

This is a hard teaching, contrary to our own myths about "civilian control," and the "militarism" of those whom we have surpassed.

Totalitarians talk tough, even going so far as to have their politicians pose in uniforms, but their militaries are undermined by political agenda, political spies and political tampering with military institutions.

Our system escapes the worst of these debilitating political influences virtue of the checks and balances of power between the executive and the legislature and by the miltitarization of the electorate.

An illustration of this strength is the story to Clinton's "Gays in the Military" fiasco. If the rest of the world wants to force a politically motivated change on the military, they do so, for us, the forced change was dead on arrival.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 17, 2005 3:54 PM

And the restless Sunnis joined in.

"In your face, space-coyote!" - Homer Simpson.

Posted by: Mikey at December 17, 2005 5:10 PM