L. Paul Bremer III, chief of the American occupation authority, delivered a stark television address on Friday in which he declared that "Iraq faces a choice" and that the American plan to bring stability and democracy here might not succeed unless ordinary Iraqis come quickly to its defense.
"If you do not defend your beloved country, it will not be saved," he said.
Why doesn't that tell the reasonable Iraqi to do nothing? If time is short and the Americans are about to give up and leave Iraqis to their own devices, wouldn't you want to lie low and not call attention to yourself? Wouldn't you picture the future by reference to the aftermath of the 1991 war and steel yourself for the next brutal regime?