Major E. is our man at Camp Victory in Baghdad. Today he writes to comment on the attack on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, heading his report “Bombs in Baghdad — Spectacularly Ineffective”:
By now, I am sure that many of your readers have seen the eye-catching video of multiple vehicle bombs detonating in front of a Baghdad hotel. Since it is being broadcast all over the airwaves, I just wanted to remind readers that even though it was an apparent public relations success for the terrorists, the attack was a failure in military terms.
The number of terrorists involved and the follow-on small arms attacks make it clear that the overall goal was to use suicide vehicle bombs to breach the security perimeter, then take over the hotel and hold the international guests as hostages. Instead, they failed to achieve those objectives and the attackers were killed.
Now, the terrorists can only hope that the video of a failed attack will result in a strategic victory by undermining the level of support that war-weary American people have for the democratization of Iraq. I am writing to encourage readers to take a different view.
The media sources I have seen breathlessly point out the spectacular nature of the attack and show the video clip over and over. They do not seem, however, to be pointing out that the Iraqi Police were instrumental in repelling the assault. They did receive some assistance from the US quick reaction force that arrived later, but the real story here is that the Islamic terrorists in Iraq are incapable of even seizing, let alone holding, a hotel full of journalists. Meanwhile, the Iraqi security forces continue to get stronger and more capable by the day.
During my last couple of months in theater, I interacted with various US units that have been working more and more closely with the Iraqis in order to bring about the transition of military responsibility from the coalition. Across the board, the US troops are impressed with the progress being made by their Iraqi counterparts. That progress was demonstrated under fire during successful operations in Tall Afar last month, where a majority of the troops that defeated the terrorists in that area and destroyed their operational safe havens were Iraqi.
But good news is so slow to get out, if it ever does. As I mentioned last week, I have been speaking and sharing slides with local civic and political groups here at home and, unfortunately, almost no one with whom I have spoken has even heard of Tall Afar or any of the positive developments coming from there.
On the other hand, seemingly every person knows of Fallujah and remains aware of the high casualties taken by the Marines who secured the city late last year. Yet no one seems to know that just last week, an estimated 70,000 Fallujans voted in the referendum. That is a dramatic increase over voter turnout last January, when essentially zero votes were cast because the lack of security made it too dangerous to establish polling stations.
Many Americans seem to know the bad news from last year, but not the good news from last week. While I am glad that the public knows that many gave life and limb for Fallujah, I am saddened that so few know the incredibly positive result of that sacrifice. There is so much good happening in Iraq in terms of rebuilding the society and offering the people the priceless opportunity of freedom and democracy, yet so little of the good is being reported in the media. I hope those reading this will make the connection between the sacrifice of the troops and the ever-expanding freedom of the Iraqi people.
Every American deserves to know that the sacrifice made on the streets of Fallujah by US servicemembers last year is what made possible last week the jubilant dancing of Iraqis waving their ink-stained fingers after they had cast the first vote of their lives. The Iraqi people know and appreciate what we have done for them, and I hope that the American people will come to know it more and more as well.
The conflict will, however, continue to be a tough fight because the terrorists know that the stakes could not be higher. The continued march toward an elected government with the legitimacy of several popular votes, each with successively higher turnout, thwarts their desire to impose Islamic tyranny on the Iraqi people.
Thank you for reporting positive developments and I pray that your readers will continue to read widely in order to get a more objective sense of what is going on there–and then tell everyone they know that things are much better in Iraq than the media would like you to believe.