Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Nov 2, 2006 in At TMV | 23 comments

Ethnic Cleansing and the Abandonment of a US Soldier

The quantity of violence in Iraq today is staggering. But the nature of that violence – the audacity and grotesqueness of it – is even more appalling. Two stories from today underscore just how brazen the insurgents and militias are Baghdad. First is the seizure of a US soldier, establishment of checkpoints in Sadr City to hunt down the captors, and eventual abandonment of the checkpoints at Maliki’s urging. As Andrew Sullivan points out, we have essentially abandoned a US soldier behind enemy lines. There are strange circumstances surrounding the kidnapping; the soldier was Iraqi-born and had apparently married an Iraqi woman against army rules. Still the soldier was kidnapped. And we rightly cordoned off Sadr City in search of the kidnappers. This is no small matter. Hell, it even sparked a war between Lebanon and Israel recently. Then Sunni insurgents blew up a market in Sadr City, the Sadrites blamed the bombing on the Americans for preventing the Mahdi Army from patrolling the neighborhood. Maliki channeled the Sadrites claim, and the US acquiesced. What is the final result? Moqtada al-Sadr wins, and real questions emerge about our commitment to the “honor and sacrifice” of US servicemen. This is as disgraceful as the lynching of the contractors in Fallujah.

Then there’s another story about over 30 Shi’ites being dragged off a bus near Balad and kidnapped by Sunni insurgents. They are almost certainly dead by now. But worse than that, it is part of a campaign by Sunnis to encircle Baghdad and cut it off from the rest of the country. Shi’ite militias control Baghdad – especially the Eastern half. And Sunni insurgents control all routes into and out of the city. Food shortages are already occurring in some neighborhoods as residents cannot get to stores.

The scale of killing is already as bad as Bosnia at the height of the Balkans conflict. An apocalyptic scenario could well emerge – with slaughter on a massive scale. As America prepares its exit strategy, the fear in Iraq is of a genocidal conflict between the Sunni minority and the Shias in which an entire society implodes. Individual atrocities often obscure the bigger picture where:

* upwards of 1,000 Iraqis are dying violently every week;

* Shia fighters have taken over much of Baghdad; the Sunni encircle the capital;

* the Iraqi Red Crescent says 1.5 million people have fled their homes within the country;

* the Shia and Sunni militias control Iraq, not the enfeebled army or police.

No target is too innocent. Yesterday a bomb tore through a party of wedding guests in Ur, on the outskirts of Sadr City, killing 15 people, including four children. Iraqi wedding parties are very identifiable, with coloured streamers attached to the cars and cheering relatives hanging out the windows.

The overall picture here is that of a country completely out of control. I posted an article earlier about the quantitative breakdown in control; increased militia activity, murders, etc. But when you consider how impossible daily life has become for residents of Baghdad, it shocks the conscience. And then when you consider our unwillingness to rescue our own captured soldier, it becomes obvious that we have lost our ability to manage the security situation in Iraq – possibly for good. Cockburn may be right in suggesting that a US pullout would only lead to a cataclysmic escalation of the violence. But that may be happening even with us standing by.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2006 The Moderate Voice
  • grognard

    Yes it is dismal, in fact it is getting to the point that I wonder if the Baker report will be too late. The Congress will not do anything until the newly elected representatives take the oath, Bush has proclaimed that Rumsfeld will stay, so no change there. If the election goes badly for the Republicans I might see a revolt within the party as they look at 2008 and the possibility of loosing the presidency if things are not showing some sign of change, but that is a way down the road. If there is a series of close races that end up in court the left and right will be fuming at each other and what little remains of reasonable debate will be out the window. In that poisonous climate the war will be only a background. So we do exactly the same thing we have been doing at least for the foreseeable future. By the time we get sorted out domestically the situation could well be beyond salvaging. In “saving“ Iraq from Saddam we might have caused more casualties than all of his wars combined. The price of the freedom that Bush keeps talking about will be high indeed.

  • BeYourGuest

    Dismal is the word. It’s hard to imagine it getting any better any time soon.

  • Gary

    I wanted Elrod to know that I am reading this:-)

    Grognard

    the left and right will be fuming at each other and what little remains of reasonable debate will be out the window. In that poisonous climate the war will be only a background.

    There hasn’t been REASONABLE debate for some time now. As we know, everything has been broken down into STAY THE COURSE and CUT’N’RUN for years. The current majorities in the House and Senate seem unable to do very much about it, and well, then there’s the president.

    The Iraqis are taking matters into their own hands. To say that things might still be salvageable at this point is very optimistic.

  • We’re now taking orders from Muqtada al Sadr.

  • grognard

    Gary, OK, how about if I change it to “what very very very very little remains of reasonable debate�.;) I also am not optimistic, this is completely in the hands of the Iraqis, we are for the most part just spectators now.

  • Gary

    Grognard,

    Sorry to push on that. It’s just been very depressing for very long–both the legislature and the war. It’s getting time to lance both those wounds.

  • Kim Ritter

    Grognard- If Maliki refuses to disband the militias, it means he is probably too weak to rule without their help. Probably a lot of the money and expertise that we have been pouring into Iraq has gone to Iraqis who were originally in the army but left for the militias. The population knows it can’t count on the army or police, and so turns to the militias for protection.

    It is the same thing we have seen in Lebanon and Palestine- weak federal government which is too inefficient to provide even the most basic of services- security, and a force that moves into the vacuum –powerful militias. And we are caught in the middle. How many will need to be trained in the Iraqi army to protect the country? I was watching a show that said at least 1/4 of the Iraqi army is on leave at one time.

  • Rubyeyes

    Stay the course … we’re fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here.

  • SnarkyShark

    There hasn’t been REASONABLE debate for some time now. As we know, everything has been broken down into STAY THE COURSE and CUT’N’RUN for years.

    The sad part is, it can get worse. As grognard pointed out, a lot of Florida 2000 type shenangins occur, and I shudder to think of how that will be.

    Maybe the Republicans could be stand up guys and do like Al Gore did. A magnamious gesture that would go a long way toward redemption.

    Oh good lord, I ate a bunch of mold on that ergot rhye bread I had. The colors! Look at all the pretty colors!

    This has been your daily required dose of snark!

    Be well

  • Rudi

    Snarky You weren’t part of that Weathermen group that freed Leary?

  • SnarkyShark

    The thought process is the same, that because the ideals are noble, they will eventually win out.

    Dude, I was 5 yrs old at that point. All I was doing was mooching pot off the teenaged babysitters.

    Life was good back then (sigh).

    Regarding elrods post, this development will be terrible for morale. Now each 11x-ray knows he will be left to get killed internet style if it suits Bushes political purpose.

    You can make the case that it was a geopolitical necessity, but I gar-un-tee that the grunts are not feeling warm and fuzzy right now.

  • SnarkyShark

    OOOPs

    Blockquote should have been

    Snarky You weren’t part of that Weathermen group that freed Leary?

    Damn mold. Damn spiders crawling up my back.

  • Elrod

    The fundamental problem in Iraq is that the sum is not greater than its parts. There simply is no central “Iraq” that the various official bodies like the military or police respect. 70 percent of the police are militiamen. I think the whole system is so rotten that we have to either start over or get out. And starting over won’t be easy.

  • AustinRoth

    Here is a very sobering and analytical look and civil war in general and Iraq in particular, and the likely consequences of ‘staying the course’ or ‘cut-and-running’ (hat tip to Crooked Timber). The answer is bad either way.

    A real must read for an unbiased view, even if it doesn’t support what you would like to believe:

    Iraq: Democracy or Civil War?

  • SnarkyShark

    AustinRoth-

    Better tag that one with a PDF alert. But I did manage to smoke a couple of bowls while that loaded.

    Yes, that position paper makes me feel a little bit better about my own analysis. But it doesn’t make me feel a bit better about our prospect there.

    We need to be getting ready for some serious blowback.

    No way do we get to walk away from this unscathyed.

  • Jim S

    AustinRoth,

    The difference between the two is that ‘staying the course’ will cost more American lives and resources while basically accomplishing nothing. The hole that ChenRumCo has dug for us is so deep now that there is no way to actually win. Any chance of that is over especially since Takhallus is right about our position relating to Sadr. Sadr gives Maliki his marching orders and since we are pretending that Maliki is head of a viable government we obey Maliki.

    The only thing we’ve done is strengthen the position of the Kurds while creating chaos in the rest of Iraq. The brutal truth is that we’ll just have to be happy with having helped the Kurds make up for what’s happened to them in the past and let the Sunni/Shiite conflict play out. We can’t do a thing about it and no one else is willing to do it.

    What is the only thing that would change this? Something that won’t possibly happen. Maintain the status quo while the country really begins to treat it like the all out effort it would take to make a difference. Lose the tax cuts. We’re going to need the money. Ramp up military equipment production on an emergency basis. There would have to be a draft. That’s the only way you’ll see the number of people in the service it would take bacause to stand a chance of making a difference we would have to at least triple our forces in Iraq. That’s a minimum and it’s only enough to maybe give us the barest chance of success or something resembling it.

    Now, since we know that those things aren’t going to happen could we just start a pool on when Rummy will get his Medal of Freedom?

  • Mikef

    Shia fighters have taken over much of Baghdad; the Sunni encircle the capital

    That’s the most disturbing fact. Sunni militia encircle the capital? How does that happen when there are thousands of American troops in the area?

    We’ve become nearly irrelevant to this debacle. The civil war is on, right under our noses. If we can’t disband the death squads and stop a siege of the capital city, what are we there for?

  • Woodward chose the right title for his book: State of Denial. There is no other way of putting it. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfend simply are in denial. It happens more with leaders who are engaged in a war that’s not going well. Especially when that war defines their presidency.

  • grognard

    Some good comments, I want to expand on the Militia issue and lack of central authority. My belief is that eventually one of these Iraqi military/police units will defect to someone like Sadr or disappear entirely with their weapons. That will be the time when the state of denial will appear delusional, if it doesn’t already.

    Gary, yeah, I understand your frustration..

  • Kim Ritter

    I want to expand on the Militia issue and lack of central authority. My belief is that eventually one of these Iraqi military/police units will defect to someone like Sadr or disappear entirely with their weapons.

    I think this is already happening. 90,000 weapons meant for the Iraqi army (that are untraceable) disappeared this week. It has been documented in the media that the police force have been infiltrated by militia (1/3 are estimated to be militia members). This is probably why there have been more calls this week to expand the Iraqi army -as it is ineffective due to desertions.

  • C Stanley

    Kim and Elrod,
    You’ve both quoted figures for the percentage of militia members infiltrating the Iraqi police: Kim gave it as 33% and Elrod said 70%. Do either of you have a source for these figures? I’m not doubting that it is a serious problem, but I do wonder whether we can accurate state how widespread it is.

  • Kim Ritter

    CS- I realized my figure is out of date- Elrods is correct- I googled infiltration of Iraqi police and found the 70% figure on therawstory.com. Sorry for the error- I had read it in WaPo about a month ago.

  • Sue Hail

    Mikef,

    We have become nearly irrelevant to this debacle. The civil war is on, right under our noses. If we cannot disband the death squads and stop the seige of the capital city, what are we there for?

    True, Mikef, Americans have no reason to be there. Americans have lost their resolve for whatever reason and due that the commander in chief has wavered. The only choice now for Americans is to pull out. But it’s going to be an immediate catastrophe for the Middle East and in the long run to the whole world. And the UN will become irrelevant too.

    That is going to cost the people of the world dearly for their inaction and in some cases their narrow-minded actions. Americans will be blamed by the secularists and extremists alike. Iraq will become another Somalia and Afghanistan is to follow suit. The world is in self denial not only Bush Administration is.

    There are no easy solutions but I can assure you one thing. The world is in a very critical junction. The political and religous leaders of the world have to sit tight and have to look deeply into their souls, if they are to avert the not-too-distant catastrophes that are looming overhead and waiting to happen for someone to press the trigger.

Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com