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February 10, 2005

A visit to Iraq this morning.

First, for Cassandra:

'Nuff said.

Second - pictures like this always bring out the Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor in me:

by Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson February 2, 2005 Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 185th Armor Regiment, 81st Infantry Brigade, I Corps, in their M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, lead Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division in their Bradley Fighting Vehicles, in an effort to beef up security in Mosul, Iraq.

Lastly - a little news with a spin you don't generally see... because it takes more analysis than the broadcast media has time for.

IRAQ: Too Much Prosperity February 10, 2005: Terrorists in Iraq have resumed their terrorist campaign of suicide bombings, murders and threats. But there's been a change since the January 30th elections. In many mixed neighborhoods (where Sunni Arabs live next to Shia Arabs and/or other minorities), the amount of tips to police regarding terrorist activity has increased. It's uncertain if this is because of the morale boost from the election turnout, the growing use of Iraqi commandos and SWAT teams for raids against terrorists, or the growing availability of cell phones. It's probably all three. As a result, American and Iraqi security officials are more confident that American troops will be able to start leaving this year. While details are not given, there is apparently better security on the Syrian and Iranian borders. There are dozens of new border guard bases (actually small forts) being built on those borders, and more aircraft and UAVs patrolling there as well.

The economy is booming. The terrorist attacks are too few to paralyze the entire country, and seem to stage their operations mainly for the foreign media friendly to their goals (the return of a Sunni Arab dictatorship). The number of cars on the roads has nearly tripled in two years and sales of consumer goods continues to grow as electricity is more widely available. Because it takes so long to build oil refineries, Iraq must import most of its vehicle fuel. That, with the growing number of personal and commercial vehicles, creates frequent fuel shortages.

All from the inestimable folks at Strategy Page.