My friend Derek sent me an article comparing the civil rights struggle of last century– and its fight against the Ku Klux Klan– with the present-day insurgency in Iraq.

The civil rights movement, described in the article, finally emerged victorious over the KKK “insurgents” because the population finally got tired of what was happening. To quote:

“The Sixteenth Street Church bombing was a wake-up call for northern whites. The deaths of four little girls in white dresses was too much even for whites who hadn’t cared about civil rights.”

So the “solution to the problem”, in this case, was for the general population to get fed up with the crap going on around them, and stand up for something.

Similarly, in Iraq, the solution will occur when (if?) the population decides the insurgency’s day is over, and fight back. Right now I suspect most people are living quietly in their homes, doing whatever they can to avoid the next car bomb or kidnapping incident.

The important thing I want to stress here is that the presence (or absence) of U.S. troops does precious little for this situation. One might argue that the insurgents aren’t quite as brash as they might otherwise be, knowing that some Marine sniper might be around the next corner. But overall, I don’t think the insurgency much cares about the U.S. forces. They run pell-mell through the streets, yanking people out of their cars or driving through the front door of a police precinct.

A billion dollars a week from us isn’t making the elections any safer.

Now, I’m fully aware that I’m sitting in my comfortable home writing this message– I’m not hiding out in a shack in the Baghdad suburbs wondering if my wife is going to make it back from the store today. It’s easy to assess a situation as an armchair quarterback, and I know the reality is far tougher. But my grandpa, who was a bomber pilot in World War II, said of the Jews who were buried in mass graves, “The Germans lined them up and made them dig their own graves, then shot them all. If I’d been one of those poor Jews, I’d be damned if I’d dig my own grave. Let them shoot me and dig it themselves.” He had spunk, to be sure, but the reason I bring this up is that it demonstrates a shift in attitude that will be necessary if the insurgency is ever going to be put down.