The New York Post carries an AP story today of two villages in Dyala driving off attacks by al-Qaeda with considerable bloodshed - 17 villagers and 10 al-Qaeda gunmen killed.
Louis L'Amour, the great writer of Westerns, always said he hated the movie High Noon in which the townspeople left the sheriff to face the bad guys alone, because he said that was exactly what America was not about. That when gangs of bad guys tried to ride over towns in the Old West, they were shot to pieces by the entire citizenry firing from every window - Coffeyville, Kansas and Northfield, Minnesota being the two best-known examples.
Are we starting to see that spirit in Iraq?
Update: John B. Dwyer writes:
Not only are Iraqis uniting to oppose Al Qaeda, sometimes directly & physically, there is at least one instance in which a citizen gave his life to save the lives of US troops as reported in this Aug. 21 Multi-National Force-Iraq press release , and as mentioned by President Bush.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq - An Iraqi man saved the lives of four U.S. Soldiers and eight civilians when he intercepted a suicide bomber during a Concerned Citizens meeting in the town of al-Arafia Aug. 18.
The incident occurred while Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, were talking with members of the al-Arafia Concerned Citizens, a volunteer community group, at a member's house.
"I was about 12 feet away when the bomber came around the corner," said Staff Sgt. Sean Kane, of Los Altos, Calif., acting platoon sergeant of Troop B, 3-1 Cav. "I was about to engage when he jumped in front of us and intercepted the bomber as he ran toward us. As he pushed him away, the bomb went off."
The citizen's actions saved the lives of four U.S. Soldiers and eight civilians.
Kane felt the loss personally because he had met and interacted with his rescuer many times before the incident.
"He was high-spirited and really believed what the group (Concerned Citizens) was doing," Kane said. "I have no doubt the bomber was trying to kill American Soldiers. It was very calculated the way the bomber tried to do it. If he hadn't intercepted him, there is no telling how bad it could have been."
Kane believes the citizen is a hero.
"He could have run behind us or away from us, but he made the decision to sacrifice himself to protect everyone. Having talked with his father, I was told that even if he would have known the outcome before hand, he wouldn't have acted differently."
Capt. Brian Gilbert, of Boise, Idaho, the commander of Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, currently attached to 3-1 Cavalry, echoed Kane's sentiment.
"I spoke with the father," Gilbert said. "He said he has no remorse in his son's death because he died saving American Soldiers."
Later that night, the Concerned Citizens group contacted the local National Police director, Lt. Col. Samir, with the location of the al-Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for the attack. The National Police immediately conducted a raid that resulted in four arrests.
Despite the citizen's death, Gilbert is encouraged by the cooperation between citizens and the Iraqi National Police.
"The effort of the Concerned Citizens group has made the area much safer," he said. "They are proud of who they are and their area, and want to get rid of the terrorists in their area."