Monday, October 06, 2003

American soldiers have been attacked again in Fallujah the day I visit the smoldering core of revolt in Iraq’s “Sunni triangle.” But what is worrying Sheikh Khamis Hassnawi, the leader of one of the region’s largest tribes, isn’t the possibility that the US occupiers might stay, but that they might leave.

“It would be a disaster,” says Hassnawi of a quick American pullout. “If coalition forces withdraw now, the strong will eat the weak and people will start killing each other in the streets.”

Fallujah is the last place I thought I would hear Iraqis plead for the United States to stay the course. But the tribal leader’s comments are an illustration that things in post-war Iraq aren’t always what they appear from a distance.

What angers most Iraqis isn’t the US invasion ­ which nearly everyone I met still describes as liberation from a hated regime ­ but America’s surprisingly poor performance in delivering services and security...

“If the coalition forces will leave us now, people will say that Saddam was right. The Americans came and destroyed the country, and then left the country and went home without any solution,” Hassnawi warns.

And as for the "poor performance in delivering services and security", well, the US Military tends to do well that which it is trained to do.

They are trained to fight, which no one can dispute we did well. But this nation building stuff, I'm afraid that's a bit outside the training regimen of the Infantrymen, Tankers, Artillerymen and Quartermasters now in Baghdad.

But someone has to do it...and I don't see a whole lot of volunteers stepping up.

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