Thursday, April 01, 2004

Mobs and their mad cruelty -- but the past is a poor guide

BBC NEWS | Middle East | US vows to catch Falluja killers
The echo of what happened in Somalia a decade ago will also be unwelcome for George W Bush as he seeks re-election as president later this year, our correspondent adds.

The BBC is wrong; the cruelty of the Falluja mob will strengthen US support for the near-term occupation. The reaction to Mogadishu was amplified by American talk radio and had a powerful connection to Clinton-hatred. Now that same demographic strongly supports Bush; they will viscerally connect the Falluja mob to the 9/11 attackers. In some sense they will appreciate having a clear enemy to focus on.

As others have pointed out, the lynch gangs of pre-1930s America would have been at home with this mob. The US military, fortunately for Falluja, is more disciplined. By now it will have occurred to many of the mob that the occupation forces have clear images of their faces and those around them. They will be starting to sweat.

This terrible event may yet be turned to the advantage of the occupation, and I hope to the advantage of greater Iraq -- if it's handled wisely. In that sense something positive may yet come of this.

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