I am the first to admit that I find the reporting on Iraq not only lacking seriousness, but pushy. The media seems always to push us toward admitting that going into Iraq was a mistake. This is true whether they are reporting on a blown-up pipeline, or another American killed. And if they are not insisting on that mistake, then the next line is that we are unprepared to establish (or re-establish, if you like) civil society, and unprepared to defend against the kind of terrorist attacks we have witnessed. The media demands that we arise each morning to re-evaluate both our purposes and our means. They keep pressing us with fundamental questions: see, if we wouldn’t have gone into Iraq none of these bad things would have happened. Perhaps this has also happened in exactly the same way in the past; but, if it did, it did not have the kind of immediacy to it that it has now because of television and instantenious communications. The contemporary world may have made decision making more difficult, and it may make courage and perseverance a lot more difficult. It is certainly the case that when the media (or the opponents of the Iraq war) keep crying wolf, one is less inclined to listen and then perhaps less able to see the wolf when it does arrive.
Given all this, it still must be said that the bombing of the UN headquarters is a significant act; and an act different in kind from what we have seen before. It may be the wolf. This is not simply an anti-American terrorist act. It is an anti-Western act, crushing a major building in the center of Baghdad. And this probably means that it wasn’t simply conducted by remnants of the Saddam regime. It is now almost certainly the case that the reports we have been hearing about foreigners coming into Iraq are true. Perhaps the magnet theory is right: all the bad guys are pouring into Iraq from Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and they are to do mischief in the same way that such folks have done mischief to Israel.
This was a "soft target." I know that could mean that the "hard targets" have become harder to kill, and therefore could be seen to be a good sign. The bad guys are forced to pick different targets. But there are a lot of soft targets, from Bali to Rijad, and within Iraq. It is not impossible that Iraq will attract jihad fighters the same way that Afghanistan or Kosovo did at one time. If this is the case--as has been implied by US authorities for weeks--than this will mean that a shift in tactics and strategy will have to be necessary. It will certainly mean that more of our troops will move into "defensive" positions, positions that will defend possible soft targets. Is this a good thing? Would this mean that we will be able to go after bad guys with fewer men and less vigor? Tough questions are now going to be raised, as they should. In the meantime, until those questions are raised and some answers offered, it is certainly the case that courage and preseverance are called for, now more than ever. I think the rubber has hit the road. "’Tis true that we are in great danger; The greater therefore should our courage be."