Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 18, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

IRAQ....This morning's bad news roundup. From the Telegraph:

The commander of British troops in southern Iraq, Brig Nick Carter, admitted that he would be powerless to prevent the overthrow of Coalition forces if the Shia majority in Basra rose up in rebellion. Brig Carter, of the 20 Armoured Brigade, who has been in Iraq for four months, said British forces would stay in Basra with the consent of local Shia leaders, or not at all.

...."A crowd of 150,000 people at the gates of this barracks would be the end of this, as far as I'm concerned," Brig Carter said. "There would be absolutely nothing I could do about that."

"Mr. X," a former noncom now working as a private security contractor in Iraq (via an email newsletter):

In Baghdad, where we work, I've never seen the city this dangerous. It wasn't even this bad last spring, during the actual war.

....The Army recently extended the tour lengths another 4 months for a lot of their guys who have already been in the Middle East a year now. Their morale and motivation was already non-existent before the extension; now these guys, tens of thousands of them, are just taking up space over here.

....The Army is just making things worse for the coalition. The Army is intent on having its presence seen and felt in Iraq because they think that will make everyone think they are in charge. What they dont seem to realize is that a large military presence is the one thing, pretty much the only thing, the Iraqis can't tolerate. Despite reports by the news media to the contrary, Iraqis don't resent the humanitarian projects, or the rebuilding effort, or even the U.S. being in control of the government until the transition. Sure the Iraqis want to be in charge, but the majority can tolerate the situation until a transition happens, even if it's months down the road. But what they can NOT tolerate is waking up every day and seeing army tanks and Bradleys rolling through their towns and villages. And they can't tolerate being stopped by endless Army checkpoints on the highways, which were set up by commanding officers who think terrorists and insurgents haven't figured out a way yet to avoid those checkpoints. That's what the Iraqis resent and can't tolerate, along with a thousand other ways the Army makes its presence felt (and I didn't even mention having your door kicked in at 2 am because of some "hot Army intel").

The New York Times:

The chief spokesman for the American military said five American marines were killed on Saturday in a prolonged gunbattle that started when they came under mortar and small arms fire in Qusaybah, near the Syrian border.

The spokesman, Brig. Gen Mark Kimmit, said Iraqi anti-coalition forces and marines fought for about 14 hours in the battle, unusual for its duration and far from the area where marines have been fighting an offensive in Falluja, the Sunni Muslim town west of Baghdad.

"This is the first time we have lost five marines" in that area, General Kimmitt said by telephone.

Kevin Drum 2:22 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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