Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Friday, February 23, 2007
Right On Schedule
The security program in Iraq is moving forward as predicted:
The Post and the NYT both stuff good dispatches from Iraq that illustrate the seemingly never-ending divide between Iraqi and American soldiers. The NYT takes a look at the street patrols in Baghdad that are part of the new security plan and says nothing much has changed. U.S. troops are still taking the lead and highly outnumber their Iraqi counterparts, who often make their sectarian affiliations clear and sometimes even warn residents of the approaching Americans. The Post spends some time in a police station in Baqubah that has both Iraqis and Americans. Again, it's the Americans that have to take the lead, and there is not much communication with the Iraqis, who are relegated to a different part of the station and have fewer rations and inferior equipment.
I have read nothing with any credibility that suggests that the escalation is just that .... an American escalation. The situation on the ground is the same as it's been for years except now American forces are far more extended from support and vulnerable. By soldiers being stationed in "alamo's", outposts in "cleared" (they can't even decide who the good guys are and who the bad guys are) territory, they become subject to much more aggressive attacks. And probably worst of all, the so-called Iraqi army is as bad as expected, showing up in fewer numbers than promised and underperforming dramatically.

Iraq is a country without a national identity. Wishing it had a national identity does not give it one and pursuing a strategy that assumes it does is going to lead to a long, drawn out, and ultimately failing military operation. It seems everyone understands this except for a narrow minority in the American government. Even Maliki understands it and is obviously just playing for time, and enjoying the anti-Sunni tilt of the American military. And so it goes ......

Update: Here are two quotes from the above mentioned news stories:
"Most of the troops . . . said they had no idea how their work might contribute to a larger effort, or even who the enemy is. And they said they do not trust the Iraqi police officers living one floor below them. At least one U.S. soldier stood guard with his rifle at all times, ensuring that none of the Iraqi police ventured into the American living area."
At least two of the national police officers who turned out for the operation were moving ahead of the American troops not to lead the security drive but to warn the residents to hide their weapons and other incriminating evidence. . . .

"The much anticipated effort to wrest Baghdad streets from the control of militias and insurgents has been presented in news conferences and public statements as an Iraqi-led operation. Iraqi officials have been out front, announcing arrests, weapons finds and other details, as well as new decrees intended to halt two years of so-called sectarian cleansing. But on the streets, the joint patrols seemed little different from those of the past few years: A handful of Iraqis, acting at the direction of a larger group of Americans, opening drawers and closets and looking behind furniture as they searched for banned weapons or other contraband.

"For the first few days of the operation, about 2,500 American troops took part, compared with about 300 Iraqi forces, a mix of police and Army personnel, military officials said."