Yup. the Iraqi insurgency hit the pet market in Baghdad yesterday.

I mean, what a way to win “hearts and minds”: kill that unIslamic “foufou” poochie and parakeets, not to mention kids.

The US is blaming the Iranians, not Al quaeda, this time, and that makes sense: The Mullahs have been clamping down on the infidel dogs lately in Iran, so what better way to pay back the average Iraqi for that petition signed by 300 000 locals saying to the mullahs to mind their own business. (Note: Iraqi is Shiite but Arab…Iran is Persian. Their feud goes back to biblical times).

Yet signs of life are coming back: even the Democrats and the NYTimes has noticed it.

I have written before that Iraq is not Viet Nam, but Luzon, and that the “surge” was not about more troops, but about changing the style of the war. By inserting different types of troops who could coordinate with the growing Iraqi police and Army, in a manner similar to the change in tactics against the Huks by Magsaysay in the mid 1950’s, the war now is going back into the streets, weeding out the bad guys and letting the ordinary people know that the local cops will protect them (backed up by the US if they need help).

What is amazing is that it is working so quickly, and this may be partly to the fact that the Iraqi people are attributing their increased peace to their own security forces (not outsiders). Another factor is people weary of war will back the strong horse just to get peace. That is why dedicated revolutionaries in the USSR or China or Viet Nam were backed: Not because people loved communism, but because the forces of democracy were too weak and polite to keep fighting extremists who would kill or torture entire families if one of their members cooperated with the other side.

But this time, Bush, by ignoring the Democrats, is leting the world know the US is there until January 2009. This gives various factions time to regroup, but makes the more pragmatic put down their arms in hope to gain power by polls. There is a lot of complaints about the week central government, but if the locals can control their own streets with ordinary cops who help people rather than police or militias who bully locals, you will see peace.
We saw this in the Philippines when the MNLF made peace with the government in the 1990’s, and we are seeing it today with the MILF peace talks.

People get a choice: Carrot or stick, and the stick isn’t going away.

That will leave a hard core who will resort to terror tactics to get their own way. Ironically, they will hate those who change sides first (as with the bomb assasination of Congressman Akbar last week). But it won’t succeed, since the extended family members and clan will continue to cooperate.

Another change is that as money enters for development, young men have another job opportunity: given the choice between making money as an insurgent or working on a road, most men will chose the better career move. If insurgents are winning and rich, they join. If insurgents are loosing, road work or being an OFW in Saudi is the better choice.

That’s why pacification allows ex murderers an amnesty: weed out the extremists, give the average bloke a job.

Finally, a couple bombs isn’t enough to terrorize a population. The bombs will continue, but mainly to impress CNN.

But one can live with low grade terror the same way as low grade crime. People may die in bomb attacks but they will also die of disease, accidents, clan feuds, and natural disasters. In the third world, death is part of life, and the Pinoy Catholic’s “behala na” is echoed in the “It’s the will of Allah” of pious Muslims.

The dirty little secret about bombings to impress Americans on CNN is that dead babies also impress Indonsians and others watching Al Jeezerah (the only “free” Arab network in the world: The other Arab news sources are government controlled.)

Which is why Osama, despite successes in western Pakistan, is less popular in the Muslim world now than he was in 2001.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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