Wednesday, February 11, 2004
The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil
All this is happening in the context of a new American strategy for the pacification of Iraq. That strategy, according to the NY Times, is to close down most U.S. bases in central Baghdad and withdraw to the outskirts of the city. American soldiers will get rid of their humvees, stick to the tanks, and count on Iraqi police and civil defense forces to handle everything except for big emergencies.
For this plan to work, Iraqis have got to be willing to join the police and civil defense forces. But if attacks like those of recent days continue, they won't be. Take a look at what an Iraqi man wounded in today's attack had to say:
Tearful and angry, Jamouri complained how the U.S.-led occupation authorities boast about the high number of Iraqis signing up for the new army and police but fail to protect them from guerrilla attacks.
"I hate the Americans. I hate them," said Jamouri, 28. "They did nothing to protect us. They don't protect Muslims."
Like many Iraqis, Jamouri thought the U.S.-led invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein in April would ease many of the hardships suffered under his iron-fisted rule.
Facing high unemployment in postwar Iraq, Jamouri decided to sign up for the new Iraqi army, and he couldn't wait to start work on Wednesday.
"We were many brothers and sisters. We were poor. I was in bad shape. I thought I could get work in the new army and protect and defend my country's honor," he said. "How can I protect my country when I can't even get protection?" Source: CNN
The standard Bush Administration script is to say that suicide attacks like these are "cowardly" and a sign of "desperation" and that the enemy's desperation is evidence that the insurgency is on its last legs. But the attacks don't seem at all desperate to me. They seem like a continuation of the same strategy that successfully drove out the U.N. and the other NGOs.
You get a more balanced view from the troops on the ground. Responding to today's attacks, General Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations chief in Baghdad, said, "This could be ... part of the ongoing pattern of intimidation we've seen of late…We have stated numerous times that in the lead-up to governance, there could be an uptick in the violence."
That's still too optimistic, but it's far closer to a realistic assessment of the threat. Hopefully, the opinions of the real decision makers are closer to those of Klimmitt than their rhetoric indicates. That is, hopefully they're still lying to us.
Tracked down a few comments from Administration higher ups regarding Tuesday's attack. Still looking for the full transcript. Here's what I've found so far:
"It's impossible to defend in every location against every conceivable kind of attack at every time of the day or night," US Defence Secretary Ronald Rumsfeld told reporters in Washington after Tuesday's blast.
At the same briefing, Air Force General Richard Myers, chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was optimistic about security despite the attack.
"We continue to be optimistic about the situation on the ground in Iraq," he said, adding there had been "a lot of success" in bringing stability and security to Iraq ahead of the June 30 target date for handing power to an Iraqi government. Source: Reuters
Update: More from the briefing (Source: Reuters)
Still no transcript, but here are some Rumsfeldisms from the briefing:
"That does not mean that there will not be people that are killed. I mean, look at any city on the face of the earth. Everyone's against homicide. And yet in every...major city on the face of the earth, homicides occur every week. Hundreds occur every year in every city.
"Now, why if we have all those policemen, why if we have everyone against homicides, do they still occur? The answer is because human beings are human beings."
Next, Rumsfeld was asked whether he personally had beleived the pre-war claim that Iraq could launch a missile attack on Britain in 45 minutes. Rumsfeld said, "I don't remember the statement being made, to be perfectly honest."
Whew! At least we can take comfort in the fact that they're still lying.