I remember when I put together what I dubbed a Saturation Patrol in Detroit to help fight the multitude of arson fires on Devil's Night - the night before Halloween.
The police command post would contact our headquarters in the Fisher Building whenever there was a spike of fires in a neighborhood and we would dispatch cars with volunteers to patrol that area with amber lights on their cars to patrol the area.
The result was a decrease in the number of arson fires there.
But one Devil's Night, some of the arsonists fought back, tossing a brick through the windshield of one volunteer's car, slightly injuring his teenage son who was riding shotgun. I went to the hospital where he went for treatment and, for good reason, the father was angry.
I told him I was sorry about what happened and happy his son wasn't seriously hurt. But I also told him the incident had a good side to it. That had he and the rest of the patrol members not been effective, the arsonists wouldn't have been compelled to attack.
He actually took some solace in my suggestion.
I thought about that this morning when I read that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on a surprise visit to Iraq because of an upsurge of violence over the past several days. Like my visit to the hospital, Clinton's trip was designed to urge the Iraqis that the suicide bombings that have killed scores of people were a result of concerns by the insurgents that the new government there is actually going to succeed in uniting the nation. In other words, there is a good side to the violence.
Obviously, it's not an exact parallel. In my example, there was just one act of violence and it resulted in only a minor injury. In Iraq, rather than throwing bricks, they are blowing up bombs and people are dying.
Let's hope that the Clinton assessment is as correct as was mine. That the uptick of violence in Iraq is a last desperate push by the insurgents. And not a sign that they have regrouped and are prepared to take over neighborhoods they have lost.
If it's the latter rather than the former, history will judge us much more harshly for the invasion than we've collectively judged ourselves.
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