Apparently, American troops are better at protecting the furnishings of Saddam's palaces than such trifling landmarks as the Baghdad Museum and library. Lolling about the place, General Franks --entering Baghdad under heavy guard -- is confident, as is his commander in chief, that the War is over.
As is the press. The main question asked by Slate's Chris Suellentrop right now is when are we going to roast those Syrians. That's fairly representative of media opinion.
Well, in the face of such unanimity, and given the nature of the unanimous, we have a hard time buying the pitch.
The occupation of Iraq differs from that of Germany or Japan, and is like that of Afghanistan, in that the other side disappeared. It's evanescence was taken, in Afghanistan, as surrender -- and for all practical purposes, the US definitely achieved its goal in Afghanistan. It denied a haven to Al qaeda. It overturned Alqy's protectors.
In Iraq, the forces of Saddam are through. But the War still rumbles, in Mosul, in Baghdad, in Basra. These are weeks of shifting. We don't think the War part 2 is necessary. We think it is preventable. We think the factional struggles that racked Northern Iraq don't have to be replicated on a national scale with quite that fury. But we also think that the longer the Americans display their insensibility to their situation in Iraq, as long as they sign contracts that seemingly are premised on the assumption of months, if not years, of occupation, we creep ever closer to a pot shot war. One in which Americans casualties will be higher than the pot shot war in Afghanistan, and Iraqi casualties, as seems to be the destiny of wars waged in Iraq, will be much higher still. There's probably some calculable multiple, now, of American to Iraqi deaths.
This story from Mosul is ominous enough not to have received much attention in the American press:
"Whatever the cause, the two shootings have killed 17 Iraqis and wounded 39, according to Dr. Ayad Ramadhani, director of the city's general hospital, who said the toll from Tuesday's shooting rose overnight to 13 from 10.
American officials said they believed that seven people died in the incident on Tuesday, but they had no figures for Wednesday's deaths.
All of the shootings occurred outside the governor's office in downtown Mosul, which was occupied by American troops on Tuesday. Iraqi witnesses said that in Wednesday's incident, Iraqi policemen who had surrounded looters in a nearby bank building had fired shots in the air to disperse a crowd. The Americans, thinking they were under fire, started shooting, they said. Among the wounded were the two police officers who fired the warning shots, a 12-year-old boy and 61-year-old man.
Maj. Steve Katz, a special operations civil affairs officer, said that despite the shooting, most Iraqis were still welcoming American forces here."
The smiley face that is being painted relentlessly across this occupation is treacherous. Welcomes, after all, presage stays. Making oneself at home. Sampling the home cooking. Electing the new "mayor" of Baghdad, and following him with a couple of jeep loads of Chalabi bullyboys, armed and clothed by the Pentagon.
In the meantime, where is Smilin' Jay's prefector in Northern Iraq? Isn't General "Loose" Bruce Moore supposed to be in charge up there? Although Loose Bruce is a hard man to keep tabs on. In a recent Glaswegian spreadsheet about the Military-Industrial complex about to run Iraq from the banks of the Potomac , Loose rated merely a mention. No company ties, no nothing. But if they keep mowing down Iraqis for unprofessional displays of impolitic fervor, eventually Loose Bruce will have to say something.