Thursday, April 19, 2007

This market [car-]bombed today was attacked only ten weeks ago. U.S. military spokesmen said there was supposed to be a ban [on cars] inside it.

--Hillary Brown of ABC News last night discussing yesterday's bombing of the Sadriya market in Baghdad, which killed approximately 140 people



by Mustafa al-Reynolds

On Wednesday, as the news of a wave of car bombings was unfolding, I went into my advanced law seminar here in Baghdad to find one of my students upset. My student, Miryam al-Wyllie, has an automobile, as well as a large collection of explosives looted after the fall of Saddam, but right now she isn't allowed to drive in Baghdad, and she is never allowed to drive while carrying explosives. That left her feeling unsafe. "Why couldn't we meet off campus today?" she asked.

My student is a responsible adult; if she chooses to turn her vehicle into a car bomb, I trust her not to use it improperly, and if something bad happened, I'd want her to have explosives in her car because I trust her to respond appropriately, making the rest of us safer.

The government doesn't have that kind of trust in its citizens. It believes that by making Baghdad "car-free," and "explosive-free," it will make people safer, when in fact it's only disarming innocent people, rather than allowing them to build their own car bombs to kill off car bombers before they can set off their car bombs.

This merely ensures that the terrorists have a free hand. If there were more responsible, armed car bombers in Baghdad, car bombing would be harder.

Coalition and Iraqi forces can't be everywhere, and by the time they show up at a car bombing, it's usually too late. On the other hand, one group of people is, by definition, always on the scene: the victims. Only if they have their own car bombs, they may wind up not being victims at all.

"Car-free zones" and "explosive-free zones" are premised on a fantasy: That car bombers will follow rules, and that people like my student would be a greater danger to those around them if they had car bombs than crazed car bombers like those responsible for the latest attacks. That's an insult. Sometimes, it's a deadly one.

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