Day By Day

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Meanwhile in Ramadi

The L.A. Times [immediately below] is no fan of the administration and just a few months ago was portraying the Iraq campaign as a total debacle. Their willingness to abandon, even partially, their ideological blinkers is a good indication that things are going rather well in Mesopotamia. More important, though, is this remarkable article that appeared in the violently anti-American Der Spiegel.

Describing the situation in Ramadi, formerly a major battle zone, Der Spiegel writes:
Ramadi is an irritating contradiction of almost everything the world thinks it knows about Iraq -- it is proof that the US military is more successful than the world wants to believe. Ramadi demonstrates that large parts of Iraq -- not just Anbar Province, but also many other rural areas along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers -- are essentially pacified today. This is news the world doesn't hear: Ramadi, long a hotbed of unrest, a city that once formed the southwestern tip of the notorious "Sunni Triangle," is now telling a different story, a story of Americans who came here as liberators, became hated occupiers and are now the protectors of Iraqi reconstruction.
Even more striking is the description of how ordinary Iraqis react to the presence of American troops.

The square in front of the mosque, a trash-covered wasteland between ruined rows of houses, fills up with people at the end of Friday prayers. Children hang on the American soldiers like grapes on a vine, plucking at their trousers, vying for their attention, for a glance, a piece of candy, a dollar, gazing up at the big foreigners as if they were gods.

The Americans run into acquaintances in the crowd. After being stationed in the city for 10 months, they have become a familiar sight. Bearded men greet the soldiers with hugs and kisses, and passersby hand them cold cans of lemonade. "Thank you, Mister," "Hello, Mister," "How are you, Mister?" they say. They talk about paint for schools and soccer jerseys, and they invite the Americans over for lunch. The Iraqis pose for photos with them, making "V's" for "victory" with their fingers.

And perhaps most significantly the emergence of indigenous Iraqi heroes:

Every child in the city knows the story of how, on May 16, 2007, terrorists attempted to stage a massive attack. Using four car bombs, they first blew up two bridges across the Tigris River in the city's northwest. A short time later, three other car bombs exploded in front of the headquarters of the district police. They, too, were packed with explosives, ripping craters into the ground the size of swimming pools. An eighth bomb struck a police station in the southeast. The attackers followed each of the bombings with an assault with rockets, machine guns and Kalashnikovs. It was clear, on that May 15, that the terrorists were intent on scoring a major coup. But they failed, and in doing so they lost their war.

The Iraqi police officers and soldiers, who until then had not been expected to perform well in combat, threw themselves into battle. Even the wounded refused to be carried off the battlefield, continuing to fight as best they could. Heroes were born on that day in May, the kind of heroes that the entire country sorely needs -- not Sunni, not Shiite, not Kurdish or Assyrian or Turkmen heroes, but Iraqi heroes.

Read the whole thing here.

The NYT and leading Democrats are hedging their bets on the war. The LA Times sees hope. Now, in the most rabidly anti-Bush nation in the world, Germany [see David's Medienkritik on their hatred for America here], a leading journalistic outlet is willing to portray the American intervention positively [although getting in some Bush bashing as it does so]. A significant turning point has been reached in both national and world opinion.