Iraq: Popular sentiment or foreign jihad?

An article on the downing of a US helicopter that resulted in the deaths of 15 US soldiers includes a telling observation:

The region, just south of the Euphrates town of Fallujah, has emerged as a center of resentment over the U.S. occupation, and most residents gathered near the crash site celebrated the helicopter’s downing as a victory. By noon, soldiers forced onlookers to evacuate the site.

“Why are the Americans here? They’re just showing off their muscles,” said Habib Ali, 36, a truck driver. “Force creates force.”

Others from the nearby village of Albu Ali Harat gathered around. “This is an expression of our opinion,” he said, “of Muslims, of all people.”

“This is my land, and they came as strangers,” said Jassim Mohammed, 22. “They should be afraid.”

Nafia Fahed Hamoud, 32, a builder who lives near the crash site, praised the person who fired the missile as “an honest man who does not like to be occupied by foreigners.”

What happened to greeting US soldiers with flowers and gifts? This is scary, because it means the atrocities are likely to continue, fueled by popular support. I’d be less nervous if the only ones against us were a shadowy foreign jihad, terrorists who seeped into Iraq to harrass us. When you have a large amount of the populace behind them, you have the ground paved for another Viet Cong.

The link is via Calpundit, who comments:

I wish we had a better clue about just how widespread this kind of sentiment is. Unfortunately, given the Pollyanna PR campaign underway by the administration, it’s impossible to take anything they say at face value. So in the end, even though we’re told that American reporters are practically rooting for failure, it looks like their reports are all we have.

And so far they’ve been pretty accurate. Certainly more so than visiting congressmen and dance troupes returning from their carefully scripted tourist trips, that’s for sure.

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