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No, It's Not Vietnam
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So quit calling it that.

Tom Friedman nicely sums up a lot of stuff I've been thinking about for the past few weeks, and especially in light of the recent Red Cross/Red Crescent attack in Baghdad:

Monday's attacks in Baghdad were a new low. Just stop for one second and contemplate what happened: A suicide bomber, driving an ambulance loaded with explosives, crashed into the Red Cross office and blew himself up on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This suicide bomber was not restrained by either the sanctity of the Muslim holy day or the sanctity of the Red Cross. All civilizational norms were tossed aside. This is very unnerving. Because the message from these terrorists is: "There are no limits. We have created our own moral universe, where anything we do against Americans or Iraqis who cooperate with them is O.K."

What to do? The first thing is to understand who these people are. There is this notion being peddled by Europeans, the Arab press and the antiwar left that "Iraq" is just Arabic for Vietnam, and we should expect these kinds of attacks from Iraqis wanting to "liberate" their country from "U.S. occupation." These attackers are the Iraqi Vietcong.

Hogwash. The people who mounted the attacks on the Red Cross are not the Iraqi Vietcong. They are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge a murderous band of Saddam loyalists and Al Qaeda nihilists, who are not killing us so Iraqis can rule themselves. They are killing us so they can rule Iraqis.

Have you noticed that these bombers never say what their political agenda is or whom they represent? They don't want Iraqis to know who they really are. A vast majority of Iraqis would reject them, because these bombers either want to restore Baathism or install bin Ladenism.

Exactly. Painting the people who blew up the Red Cross center as "insurgents", or "freedom fighters" isn't just's sick. Out of all the potential targets in Baghdad, they drove an ambulance full of explosives into a hospital.

A fucking hospital.

One could possible make the strained argument that the Al Rasheed hotel was a military target. But the Red Cross center? No.

Friedman is moral or societal norms apply here. And these people are not interested in liberating a country from occupiers. They are interested in reoccupying Iraq themselves.

It seems to me that these attacks may in fact be from different, even competing groups. It seems likely that two alternative forms of governance want to replace the fledgling democracy that's trying to get going in Iraq. The Ba'athists obviously want back in power. But there is also a strong base of fundamental Islamists who want a religious despotism, ala the Taliban, instituted in Iraq.

Both must fail if we ever want to actually help those elements in Middle Eastern societies that have been yearning for years for democracy and human rights.

People who intentionally target hospitals are the bad guys. There should be no hesitation or reticence in saying so.

We're doing the right thing, despite the disparate motivations of the different players involved. We should not lose sight of this.

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