2004 December 24 Friday
Insider Attack In Mosul And A Long Term Insurgency

Iraqi loyalties are at the root of the problem.

The deadly suicide attack on a US military base in Mosul this week was an "inside job" carried out by insurgents who are part of the Iraqi armed forces, Asia Times Online has been told.

Sources said a strong nexus between Iraqi forces and the resistance is what allowed them to carry out the most devastating attack on US troops since the beginning of the invasion. US forces have imposed a curfew in Mosul and have launched a military operation in the city, but, the sources say, this will have little effect on the problem, for the simple reason that the US-trained Iraqi military is heavily infected with people loyal to the resistance groups.

Does it even need to be stated that there is no obvious way to shift their loyalties away from the insurgency and toward the Iraqi government that US forces keep in power? Anyone want to bet there will be a huge decrease in insurgent attacks once the Iraqi government is democratically elected? My expectation is for a strong insurgency in 2005 as the insurgents continue to learn how to better fight US forces.

Brigadier General Carter Ham confirms that the US military thinks the attack was carried out by a sucidie bomber.

What we think is likely but certainly not certain is that an individual in an Iraqi military uniform, possibly with a vest-worn explosive device, was inside the facility and detonated the facility, causing this tragedy. That's preliminary. We'll find out what the truth is and then take necessary actions as we gain more information.

Just how heavily infiltrated are the Iraqi security forces? Did this bomber get into this base with the help of confederates who passed him through security checkpoints?

National Defense University professor and former Marine Colonel Hammes says that insurgencies of the sort found in Iraq typically last for decades.

But Hammes says the most important change to be made now is in the way that American leaders talk to the people about what's going on in Iraq. He says history shows that most insurgencies, whether the Vietnamese against the French and later the US, or the Afghans against the Soviets, last from 10 to 30 years.

He says he sees no reason why Iraq is any different, but worries the American public was ill-prepared for this by the rosy Administration pronouncements for most of the war.

But does the American public want to fight a decades-long insurgency? That seems very unlikely. So how long will this war continue to play out before more open political opposition develops? The US either has to up the ante by building up a much larger military (perhaps another million in uniform) to mount a bigger counter-insurgency effort or it needs to start looking for a way to withdraw. The biggest obstacle to withdrawal is that as the continuing increase in the counts of Americans killed and maimed fighting in Iraq may cause at least some Americans to want to see some tangible benefit from having invading Iraq in the first place. That will make withdrawal difficult unless the government(s) left behind will look like they have the strength to stay in power after US forces leave.

Before the election in October 2004 Brent Scowcroft gave his rather dim assessment of Bush policy toward Iraq, Israel, and the rest of Bush foreign policy.

Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush, was highly critical of the current president's handling of foreign policy in an interview published this week, saying that the current President Bush is "mesmerized" by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, that Iraq is a "failing venture" and that the administration's unilateralist approach has harmed relations between Europe and the United States.

My thoroughly cynical thought for the day: One way the Iraqi government could be sure to stay in power after US forces leave would be to let the insurgency to penetrate so much of the government that they effectively control it. Then the insurgents would feel no need to overthrow it.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 December 24 04:24 PM  Mideast Iraq

gcochran said at December 24, 2004 5:16 PM:

Come on, there are obvious ways to make them fight for us . Shoot deserters, shoot waverers, take their women and children hostage. Do I have to tell people _all_ the answers?

Hmm.. You have to put in political officers in every division, have special light-armed units patrolling behind to shoot the unenthusiastic, have punishment battalions where those who pissed you off are used for suicidal tasks. Clearing minefields with their feet, for example. Actually, implement this same general attitude and you stop the resistance: just exterminate any town that gives you shit. Word will get around. Put all the women and children into a mosque and burn them alive: they'll submit, all right, and we won't need any more troops than we have today to do it. Look, Japan conquered most of China with only half a millon troops: this is a piece of cake.

I don't pretend that his strategy is original - it's been around for some time. Sure, the people over at Free Republic may _think_ they invented it, but at most that was a case of great minds thinking alike.

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