Steve Fainaru reports for the Washington Post about the fighting around the Sunni Arab insurgency stronghold of Tal Afar (a.k.a. Talafar or Tall Afar). Tribalism makes whole villages into the insurgency.
"The village. He wants you to arrest all the men in the village," the interpreter told Army Capt. Eric Beaty, commander of Company C, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment.
"They're all bad?" Beaty asked.
The interpreter consulted The Source. "Yes, all bad," he said.
"Well, what we'll do is we'll put you up on the top of the Stryker, and you can tell us where to go left or go right, okay?" Beaty said.
Reading the article I didn't feel much confidence that the Iraqi informant had such a firm grasp on who the insurgents were. Was he just eager to get paid money for sketchy intelligence he had accumulated? How'd he know who to pick out of groups? Had he seen these people before?
The fact that US soldiers have to use interpreters to communicate with dubious informants try to identify insurgents in villages shows just how futlie US efforts are at this point. Identification of just who is active in the resistance is an extremely difficult job and requires a large amount of local language and cultural skills and local knowledge of the sort that police investigators accumulate. The US military is not trained for counter-insurgency at the level it would need to be done in order to be done well.
Pfc. Mario Rutigliano, 19, of Clifton, N.J understands something that the neocons in the Bush Administration are too ideologically dense to figure out.
"We need to get some music in here," Rutigliano said as the Stryker rolled toward the village.
"Yeah, we do," Cate agreed.
"You lose your mind if you take this stuff too seriously," Rutigliano said.
Rutigliano said he thought the Stryker Brigade had defeated local insurgents, but he predicted they'd be back. "It doesn't matter how many we kill, they'll always keep coming back," he said. "They've all got cousins, brothers. They have an endless supply."
See also Insurgency In Iraq Like Self-Replicating Virus and John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq and Steve Sailer's Cousin Marriage Conundrum.
Last night ABC News showed footage from within Najaf. Najaf was seriously trashed. Lots of multi-story buildings are torn to shreds. The Iraq post-war deconstruction is making a lot of progress in Najaf. To slightly paraphrase a Vietnam War quote, we have to destroy the city in order to save it. Except of course it hasn't been saved. There are plenty of insurgent Mahdists ready to fight another day. A couple of ABC reporters had embedded with the US military and gone around Najaf with them during fighting. The lady reporter (whose name escapes me) said that at this point there are few opportunities for reporters in Iraq to go into the field because it is too dangerous. So they have to embed.
The brothers and cousins are unemployed and the continued war is damaging the economy still further. Little money has been spent on reconstruction. Idle hands are the devil's workshop. The devil is busy. Saddam, not Chris, has Satan's ear on Iraq (anyone get the ref?). The Bush Administration wants to shift $3.5 billion in reconstruction aid toward security.
Including previous reallocations, the administration hopes to redirect more than 20 percent of $18.4 billion in reconstruction funds to cope with an escalating insurgency and the glacial pace of rebuilding. With two weeks left in the fiscal year, and 11 months after Congress approved the money, only $1.1 billion of it has been spent, because of attacks, contracting problems and other unforeseen issues, according to figures released by the State Department.
John Derbyshire (who continues to support the original decision to invade btw) has written a speech for George W. Bush to deliver after the election to announce US withdrawal from Iraq.
I do not believe anyone could say that we have stinted in these efforts to help restore Iraq's ability to function as an independent nation. If, following our withdrawal, Iraq proves unable so to function, I do not believe the U.S. could be fairly blamed, nor do I believe the American people will blame their government. We have done our best for Iraq.
There is, however, a limit to what we can do, and a limit to the patience of our own people. If Iraqis cherish their nation, they must themselves be willing to sacrifice for it. If Iraqis wish to be citizens of a peaceful and prosperous country, they must themselves work hard to those ends. Many Iraqis, of course, are so willing, and indeed many have sacrificed their lives to those ends in this past year and a half. However, Iraq will only be a single nation, and at peace, if the overwhelming majority of Iraqis sink their differences and join together in a spirit of patriotic solidarity to preserve this nation. If Iraqis are not willing to do that, then there is no hope for Iraq, either under occupation or free from it.
We do not hear "Give me liberty or give me death" uttered by Iraqi fighters rushing to oppose tribal rule and theocracy. Instead we hear something that sounds more like "Give me victory over the infidels and revenge for the death of cousins Abdul and Akmed or give me martyrdom."
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2004 September 15 11:41 AM Mideast Iraq Human Nature|