FAKE RAIDS….The Wall Street Journal reports today that Iraqi businessmen are in a tough situation: they need American funds to restart their businesses, but if anyone knows they’re getting U.S. cash they run the risk of being shot or blown up. Capt. Dan Cederman came up with an answer to this dilemma last year while he was talking with the owner of a vocational school that was receiving U.S. reconstruction funds:

With the work well under way last fall, Dr. Noori asked Capt. Cederman to see the renovations for himself, both men say. But the Iraqi stressed the importance of keeping the U.S. role secret. “Can you come in without anyone seeing you come in?” Dr. Noori remembers asking….”I thought, ‘Why don’t we just raid the place?’ ” Capt. Cederman recalls.

….The U.S. raid took place last September. Dr. Noori, who had been alerted to the timing, stayed home the day of the strike to prevent his workers from finding out that he knew many of the soldiers….The ruse worked so well that Capt. Cederman decided to carry out a similar raid last month at the printing plant here that had been fixed up with U.S. funds.

….In recent days, meanwhile, U.S. forces staged a raid to solve a nettlesome — and potentially life-threatening — problem in the nearby city of Bayji.

An Iraqi who worked as a translator for U.S. forces there was getting death threats from insurgents and asked the U.S. for help. The Americans responded by raiding his house, publicly arresting him, and holding him in jail for two days.

“A lot of people there now think he’s a bad guy,” Capt. Cederman says. “It bought him a lot of street cred.”

This is clever stuff. At the same time, it’s a pretty stark reminder of just how unpopular we are in Iraq. Like so many things, it seems like an idea that might help us in the short term but will just end up making things even worse in the long term.