Friday, June 16, 2006

Troops in Iraq

I think Juan Cole might be right about this:
"I agree with Congressman Murtha that the main lesson of the killing of Zarqawi is that we don't need all those ground troops in Iraq, who mainly take casualties when driving around. If we didn't have so many troops there, they would not have to drive around so much. They aren't trained as police, aren't mostly doing counter-insurgency, don't have the language or local cultural skills to track down the guerrillas, and their search and destroy missions probably alienate more Iraqis than they are worth. We'd be ahead of the game with some Jordanian intelligence units coordinating with Iraqi forces,and maybe some US special ops teams who could call down the 500 pound bombs once the terrorist location is identified.

"The argument coming from the American military-industrial complex that the US could not have killed Zarqawi if there had been a troop draw-down is simplistic, as with all purely interest-driven arguments. It depends on which troops are withdrawn. The onces in Najaf province are acting really just as an occasional support to the Badr-infiltrated police in their struggle against the Mahdi Army militia. Those troops did not help get Zarqawi. Most of the US troops in Iraq don't have the linguistic or cultural knowledge to do effective counter-insurgency. In fact, my own suspicion is that it was the enlistment of Jordanian agents that was crucial. That, and Zarqawi stupidly alienated the Dulaim by blowing up police recruits in Ramadi. Tribal feuds tend to follow you once you start them."

As I've said before, I'm interested in ensuring Iraq isn't a safe haven for terrorism, not supporting one side in a civil war. The issues which underlie most of the insurgency will ultimately have to have a political resolution. The most military force can do is pressure the insurgents into an accomodating diplomatic posture, and in my mind the jury is out over whether that is happening. Then there's this about the proposed amnesty for insurgents:
"Those 'involved in shedding Iraqi blood' will be punished, but those who attacked Americans will be eligible for pardons. According to Adnan Ali al-Kadhimi, identified in the Post as an advisor to Maliki, 'That’s an area where we can see a green line. There’s some sort of preliminary understanding between us and the MNF-I,' the U.S.-led Multi-National Force-Iraq, 'that there is a patriotic feeling among the Iraqi youth and the belief that those attacks are legitimate acts of resistance and defending their homeland. These people will be pardoned definitely, I believe.'

"Do those strutting about on Capitol Hill today yammering about how Democrats don’t 'support the troops' on Capitol Hill have anything to say about the fact that we are now putting those troops into a country where their mission is to protect a government that has said that attacks on those same troops, and civilians, are 'legitimate acts of resistance' eligible for pardon?

I accept the fact that in a war, there are two sides, so the idea of pardoning insurgents doesn't bother me, as much as the administration has tried to paint them all with the Zarqawi brush. However, Schmitt's point is a good one about the direction negotiations are taking and where American forces stand in them.


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