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Winning Fights

It's way down at the bottom, and it's not written like good news, but this is good news, I think:

Also, gunmen opened fire on patrolling Iraqi National Guardsmen in Hillah, 60 miles south of the capital, sparking a shootout that killed two suspected insurgents and wounded three Guardsmen, Maj. Fatik Iyd said.
There's no further detail given, but taking that sentence at its word what you have here is an instance of Iraqi National Guardsmen patrolling around, getting attacked, standing their ground, fighting off the insurgents, killing two insurgents, and suffering no fatalities of their own, all without on-the-ground American assistance. If this sort of thing is really happening now, it constitutes major progress. Naturally enough, American reporters like to focus on what Americans are doing, but what happens in engagements where Americans aren't present is really the crucial issue here.

February 17, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

Well, you can expect the Guardsmen to fire back if someone tries to kill them and thay have a gun handy, even if Americans are not present.

Posted by: Otto | Feb 17, 2005 2:46:33 PM

Its only remotely "good news" if its typical, unless you've somehow taken the few highly publicized cases of Iraqi security forces refusing to do their jobs (usually, when US forces were present) to be universal.

Posted by: cmdicely | Feb 17, 2005 2:47:04 PM

I like the outcome, but not the location. I'd like to have predominantly Shiite areas in the south well in hand by now, though Hillah is in easy driving distances from some Sunni "triangle of death" towns just south of Baghdad. When this happens in, say, Samarra, then we're cooking with gas.

Posted by: rd | Feb 17, 2005 2:47:34 PM

What rd said. If we have Shiite guardsmen fighting Sunni insurgents, the narrative becomes a lot less positive. Wait and see, I guess.

Posted by: JP | Feb 17, 2005 2:52:40 PM

Who are you, and what have you done with Matt Yglesias? Why, Al just proved a few threads down that the REAL Yglesias is obviously on Saddam's and Bin Laden's side.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw | Feb 17, 2005 3:08:11 PM

Two dirty ragheads dead (suspected insurgents?) and three wounded - good news indeed. Finally we're making 'em pay for the 9/11. Thank God for Bush.

Posted by: abb1 | Feb 17, 2005 3:09:02 PM

Well, CM, I think that for most of the spring and summer of 2004 we were seeing the rather natural result of two particular bits of egregious foolishness on the part of the Bush administration, viz., ceding large parts of Al Anbar to the Ba'athists (while simultaneously campaigning on being unwavering in the face of America's enemies, but I digress), and putting Iraqi national guardsmen/police into uniform with what amounts to a week's worth of training.
One can hope that perhaps the folks directing this nonsense from Washington have learned from their mistakes and that there are Iraqi troops in the pipeline who are getting better training.Though of course expecting anyone in the current administration to learn from their mistakes is a pretty tall order.

Posted by: Andrew Reeves | Feb 17, 2005 3:10:12 PM

Mistakes? What mistakes? The administration hasn't made any mistakes that they can recall.

Posted by: Matt G. | Feb 17, 2005 3:22:58 PM

No, Matt, the crucial issue is the shape of the new government. I understand Iranian police stand their ground when attacked, too, but the strength of the Iranian government is not necessarily a good thing.

The problem with the Iraq war, is that we will likely end up with a government that is more friendly with Islamist fundamentalists than the previous one.

Or isn't Islamist fundamentalism the problem anymore?

Posted by: epistemology | Feb 17, 2005 3:39:53 PM

This isn't a new phenomenon. A large number of Iraqis have been fighting quite enthusiastically against insurgents. Unfortunately, it has been Kurds fighting Arabs. This just sets the stage for reprisals, counter reprisals and so on. It is good that they were not non-government militia. They have a more embittering effect. It is also good that they were competent enough to win th e fight.

Besides Matt, haven't you heard, we liberals are supposed to want the effort in Iraq to go badly. All the conservatives tell me so, so it must be true.

Posted by: Njorl | Feb 17, 2005 4:08:50 PM

"Two dirty ragheads dead..."? Well that'll show undecided Arabs (and Muslims generally) were on their side! Sheesh! The more 'W's supporters try to show that they're not religious bigots, the more they drive that fact home.

Posted by: Diogenes | Feb 17, 2005 4:16:35 PM

This isn't a new phenomenon. A large number of Iraqis have been fighting quite enthusiastically against insurgents. Unfortunately, it has been Kurds fighting Arabs.

This is sadly true. Usually, when you hear about a national guard or army unit that has fought particularly well against the sunnis if you ever find out where they came from they inevitably turn out to be Kurds. We are bringing Kurds down from the North to work as guardsmen in Sunni areas. Sometimes they are a bit too enthusiastic about their work, which is not surprising but doesn't bode well for the future. This has been a particular problem for Kurds hired as "private security personnel" (aka mercenaries) which is a scandel that is currently being ignored by the SCLM.

Posted by: Freder Frederson | Feb 17, 2005 4:19:56 PM

Mr. Diogenes,

That was Abb1, who has a sometimes heavy handed sense of humor. I believe he was trying to depict his idea of how a conservative would react to the news, being as he is unsympathetic to us conservatives.

Posted by: luisalegria | Feb 17, 2005 4:25:30 PM

Though of course expecting anyone in the current administration to learn from their mistakes is a pretty tall order.

AFAICT, if a member of this administration learns from their mistakes, it is a sure bet that they are due to be replaced soon.

Posted by: cmdicely | Feb 17, 2005 4:33:26 PM

Hey great news! For a while I thought the insurgents would be controlling every road in and out of Baghdad. Oh wait . . .

Posted by: Philboid Studge | Feb 17, 2005 4:37:06 PM

"Why, Al just proved a few threads down that the REAL Yglesias is obviously on Saddam's and Bin Laden's side."

Nah, Mister Al got it wrong: Bush is Bin Laden's recruiting agent.

Posted by: Blue Iris | Feb 17, 2005 4:46:27 PM

Are you kidding?

Posted by: absynthe | Feb 17, 2005 4:54:21 PM

abb1 is in a really bad mood lately. Cheer up dude, WWII is just a missle strike on Syria away.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 17, 2005 5:08:55 PM

I read a story somewhere last week (and have no idea of the accuracy) of some Baathist gangsters trying to exact retribution on a village in the Sunni triangle for election participation, and getting shot up for their efforts, by the residents of the village. More of this would be welcome.

Posted by: Will Allen | Feb 17, 2005 5:09:29 PM

Matt, you really didn't understand that, did you?

That situation represents a 3:2 casualty rate of the Guard against the Rebels. Assuming of course that any rebels were actually killed.

Posted by: Nope | Feb 17, 2005 5:35:32 PM

Probably shouldn't extrapolate too much from one incident involving five casualties?

Posted by: Bob H | Feb 17, 2005 5:38:27 PM

Philboid,
A strong insurgent presence in Salman Pak is not the same thing as the insurgents controling every road out of Baghdad. Though still very much a problem.

Posted by: Andrew Reeves | Feb 17, 2005 5:59:34 PM

Well, I glad we're now at the point where we believe all news reports coming out of Iraq. I was worried that the unending stream of lies had left us somewhat skeptical.

Posted by: Social Scientist | Feb 17, 2005 11:20:16 PM

A strong insurgent presence in Salman Pak is not the same thing as the insurgents controling every road out of Baghdad.

Andrew, thank you for pointing this out. But, I'm not sure why you thought this needed pointing out.

Posted by: Philboid Studge | Feb 18, 2005 11:33:11 AM

Phil,
I was just pointing it out because the situation in the "triangle of death" is still too fluid to put under the classification of "insurgents in control of all roads." From what I can tell by means of Google news, the western part of the triangle has been mostly substantially improved from it's nadir last summer; Salman Pak, though, is up in the air (cf. last week's huge gun battle), and is fairly uncertain at the moment since according to the most recent news, the town has been mostly sealed off for the last week while U.S. and Iraqi security forces are engaged in... something inside the town.
Basically, the dynamic of places like Samarra, Baquba, Ramadi, Haifa Street, and parts of the "triangle of death" is too ambiguous to make a decent judgment on. As far as I can tell, they're not in as bad a shape as they were last summer when the folks in Washington decided to basically cede most of them to the Ba'athists, but Iraqi Interim Government control is still shaky at best.
Now, if only they can at least put a crimp in those daily car bombings...

Posted by: Andrew Reeves | Feb 18, 2005 12:04:58 PM

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