October 29, 2006 -- AMERICAN angst over Iraq typically misses two key points.
First: The United States has already achieved the goals it had proclaimed when it set out to liberate the country in 2003. Saddam Hussein and his war machinery are gone, with a democracy in their place, inspiring reform across the region.
Second: This success threatens countless interests - so the many enemies of the new Iraq are attempting to derail it. Yet their only real hope of victory lies with America public opinion.
Consider the events of the last month.
NEW Iraq's various enemies had designated the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan that has just ended as "The Month of Battle and Victory" (shahr al-maarakah wa al-nasr). Through their various statements, distributed on jihadist Web sites and TV channels owned by Arab despots, they had fixed a number of objectives that they had hoped to achieve with a view to demoralizing the American people and strengthening the cut-and-run party in Washington and London.
The average televiewer in the United States or Europe may well conclude that the enemies of new Iraq have achieved their Ramadan objectives. This has been the deadliest month in well over a year, with at least 600 civilians killed in several dozen insurgent operations. The Iraqi army and police lost more than 180 men, while U.S. forces suffered 98 dead.
The perception created is that of a situation in which the terrorists can strike where and when they want while U.S. and Iraqi forces are murdered without inflicting the slightest harm on the enemy.
Nevertheless, the Saddamites, the jihadists and the militias sponsored by Tehran not only achieved none of their objectives but also suffered their biggest losses since the start of the insurgency in 2004.
HERE are some of the objectives that the Jihadists, the Saddamites and other enemies of new Iraq had fixed for themselves but did not achieve:
* Seizing enough territory in and around the towns of Haditha and Aanah in the al-Anbar province to establish an "Islamic emirate" there. Despite several major attempts they failed, largely because a strong new coalition of Sunni Arab tribes in Anbar has entered the fight to flush the jihadists out of Iraq.
* To gain a foothold in Mosul, Iraq's largest Arab Sunni city, and turn it into a new base as Fallujah had been in 2004. Again, despite several attempts, the plan failed - thanks to the new Iraqi army backed by U.S. forces.
* To blow up the Shiite holy shrines in Karbala and Najaf just as was done in Samarrah last year. At least 12 suicide-bombers were sent to the two cities on the last day of Ramadan. The authorities decided to close the shrines for 48 hours, captured some of the would-be bombers and nipped the plot in the bud.
* Attacking the "Green Zone" in the heat of Baghdad, where most Iraqi government offices and the U.S. embassy are located. The insurgents made at least two attempts but failed, suffering heavy casualties.
* To paralyze the parliament by threatening to kill its members at a time they were discussing such key issues as federalism, a law for foreign investments in Iraq and the terms of an amnesty and national reconciliation. Again, despite several attempts on the lives of parliamentarians, the plot failed.
* To prevent Arab Sunni clerics from traveling to Mecca to sign a concordat with their Shiite clerics, calling for an end to sectarian killings. Again, the jihadist efforts failed, as all key figures in the Arab Sunni clerical elite of Iraq went to Mecca and signed the concordat.
* Muqtada al-Sadr and his Jaish al-Mahdi (Mahdi Army) tried to seize control of the southern Shiite city of al-Amarah with a well-planned attack reportedly designed by Iranian advisers. However, the attack failed and Sadr's gunmen were flushed out of the city.
* Sadr's militia, in alliance with local gangsters, tried to seize control of part of the border with Iran through which crude oil is smuggled from Iraq to the Iranian refinery at Kermanshah. The attempt failed - thanks to the new Iraqi army, which now controls virtually the whole of the border outside the Kurdish areas.
* Despite numerous murders and abductions, the jihadist promise to force the total closure of hospitals, universities, schools, newspapers, TV stations and even barber shops was not fulfilled.
* A plot by Sadr militias to seize the Interior Ministry and reinstate the 1,300 of their members who had been purged by the new minister failed, again thanks to the new Iraqi police.
* Despite explicit murder threats, more than a dozen prominent Iraqi political figures, among them former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and former Deputy Premier Ahmad Chalabi, returned to Baghdad after months spent abroad.
* Attempts at preventing the forthcoming local government elections by destroying voter lists and killing election organizers have failed. The elections will take place on schedule with all Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish and Christian parties already in the field.
* To drive a wedge between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Grand Ayatollah Ali-Muhamamd Sistani, the primus inter pares of the Shiite clergy. The attempt, backed by Sadr and others, failed when Maliki went to Najaf to acknowledge Sistani's position and secure his blessing for planned amnesty measures.
* To prevent the marking of the Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan) by threatening people with massive suicide attacks. Again, despite several murder operations, the terrorists failed as countless Iraqis celebrated the feast with greater determination than previous years.
The various enemies of new Iraq murdered a large number of people in Ramadan, but failed to translate their crimes into any political gains for themselves. Politically, the Saddamites, the jihadists and other enemies of new Iraq have passed their worst month ever.
THE only success they have had is in the field of perceptions in the United States and the West in general. They could point to the fact that the "Iraq is a failure" chorus is at its loudest yet in the United States, while signs of a possible British loss of nerve multiply.
It is largely the hope of breaking the will of the American people and its key allies that keeps the insurgency alive.
Tomorrow: The Big Picture
Amir Taheri is a member of Benador Associates.