Oddly, the absence of widespread applause from Iraqis for US forces may turn out to be a good thing. That kind of reception is always temporary in occupations, and it can lead the occupier to dangerously complacent assumptions on how strong his support is.
Yet the most consequential step may well be when US leaders decide which local agents it will join with, and how much of Saddam Hussein’s old Ba’ath Party administration it allows to stay on. Right now there appear to be few good options.
And then, even under the best circumstances, an occupation’s most significant consequences may not be known for years. “The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan gave us the Taliban,” AbuKhalil says. “The American occupation of Saudi Arabia gave us bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The Israeli occupation of Lebanon gave us Hezbollah. Let us see what the American occupation of Iraq is going to give us.”