Thursday, July 08, 2004


Consider this headline and story in USA Today:
Stability coming back to streets of Baghdad

Inspector Adnan Kadhum of the Baghdad traffic police says he noticed the change about 10 days ago: The city's notoriously unruly drivers suddenly started obeying his commands. They stopped when he signaled for them to stop; they went when he signaled for them to go.

"Before, you found hardly anyone listening to you," the 27-year police force veteran says. Kadhum, 48, spent his days flailing around in 105-degree heat, sometimes waving his pistol in a futile attempt to make motorists follow his commands. "Now, by barely moving my hand, I get respect."

Iraq's interim government, which began exerting influence even before it officially took political power last week, seems to be restoring a semblance of order to Baghdad's lawless streets. It's unclear how much the new respect for authority reflects Iraqi pride in getting their government back from U.S. occupation forces and how much it reflects fear of the new prime minister, Iyad Allawi, and his beefed-up security forces.

Either way, the difference is visible. Iraqi police patrols are roaming the city in brand-new Toyota Land Cruisers. Baghdad's streets are still chaotic by any reasonable standard. But there are noticeably fewer cars moving at high speeds, weaving in and out of traffic or careening the wrong way down city boulevards. Most of all, more than a week went by without a major insurgent attack in the city — until a gunbattle broke out Wednesday in central Baghdad.
Of course, they don't give our troops any credit...but folks smarter than me have long contended that amazing things are possible so long as one doesn't care about who gets the credit.

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