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An Unseen Factor in Iraq

President Bush’s proposal to add tens of thousands of American troops in Iraq as a way to handle the calamitous chaos over there may well provoke a hidden counter movement that will strengthen the anti-American forces in Iraq. Throughout world history, there have been many occasions when a war dedicated to a noble purpose drew significant support from people of other countries. The American Revolution of 1776 was a striking case.

From France came Lafayette to offer his military talents. From Germany came de Kalb and von Steuben. From Poland came Pulaski and Kosciusko. To these foreigners, the American Revolution was “a shot heard ’round the world.” And they responded.

When, in more recent times, there was a civil war in Spain, American boys enrolled in the Lincoln Brigade and in the Debs Brigade, and in unnamed outfits pitched into the combat. There was even an organization of Israelis.

To millions of Muslims, the war in Iraq is a holy war against the heathen of the West. Just what the number of these “freedom fighters” is nobody knows. But to them, America’s “pre-emptive” war against Iraq is the return of pre-World War II imperialism.

For these true believers, death in combat with the devil will be rewarded with a speedy entry into a heaven dripping with earthly delights. Hence, the great number of suicide bombers.

Their numbers can well match or even surpass the number of added troops Bush is moving into Iraq.

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