Iraq: August 8, 2003


 In the last four weeks, attacks on American troops have declined from about 40 a day to about three dozen. Defining what is an "attack" is sometimes difficult. US troops hearing nearby gunfire often discover they have come upon a crime being committed, or two groups of Iraqis settling a dispute. But the lethality of the attacks is going down. In the past week, there were four straight days without an American fatality. Iraqi attackers have become more cautious of late, because American "targets" are often traps.

American intelligence efforts have gathered a growing mountain of information on what's going on among Iraqis and that has made it possible for troops to more effectively go after the Baath Party resistance. The same "battlefield internet" that was so useful doing the fighting is now enabling commanders to quickly share information on the situation inside Iraq and while on operations against the resistance. This has led to the rapid development of  new tactics and understanding of the rapidly changing situation in Iraq. This high speed communication system was enormously popular during the war, and continued in use after the shooting stopped.  The impact of these new communications tools has gone largely unnoticed in the post-war operations. One of the few visible signs of this commo situation is the talk of "keeping Saddam on the run." This chase has been propelled by the masses of information gathered and the battlefield internet. 

The major problem so far has been the breakdown in law and order, a situation very similar to what happened in defeated dictatorships (Japan and Germany after World War II and East Europe after the Cold War.) Moreover, most of the Baath Party security forces (secret police, security troops) are still out there, although the US raids have been picking up the more active (in attacking Americans) of them. While the Islamic radicals involved (a minority so far) are in it for the anti-infidel hatred, the Baath Party is largely about money. Over the last few decades, Iraq turned into a money machine for the Baath Party and many senior Baath Party members still have lots of cash. They know that as law and order returns to Iraq, they are subject to prosecution for past crimes, and confiscation of their ill gotten gains. You don't hear much about the Baath Party hot shots who choose to go into exile, but the ones who are fighting to regain power are hard to miss. 




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