Both the terrorists and U.S. troops know that victory has been defined as several weeks with no bombs going off in Baghdad. The media is keeping score, and they use their ears and video cameras. No loud bangs and no bodies equals no news. That’s victory.

Not really. The real war is within the Iraqi government. The terrorists lost two years ago, when the relentless slaughter of Moslem civilians turned the Arab world against al Qaeda. Journalists missed that one, but not the historians. The war in Iraq has always been about Arabs demonstrating that they can run a clean government, for the benefit of all the people, not just the tyrants on top. So far, there have lots of victories and defeats in this, and no clear decision overall. Elections have been held several times, but the people elected have proved to be as corrupt and venal as their tyrannical predecessors. Everyone admits that this bad behavior is not a good thing, but attempts to stop it have been only partially successful. Changing thousands of years of custom and tradition is not easy. The clay tablets dug up in the vicinity of Baghdad, reveal similar scandal and despair over four thousand years ago. Most Iraqis realize, however, that if the chain of corruption is not broken, the dreary past will again become a painful present.

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