I guess you'd agree, Joe, that the Iraqi quag is just about as miry as it could get, short of another Tet Offensive. Over 100 Iraqi cops were killed in two days last week. We've had 545 GIs killed. And scariest of all, there was a pitched battle in Fallujah between our Iraqi forces and the insurgents--and the insurgents won. They had at least 50 men in several detachments, staging simultaneous attacks on every security installation in town with mortars, rocket launchers and machine guns. They blew the Hell out of the cops (at least 20 cops killed), freed dozens of prisoners and got away clean. This was an operation even the Viet Cong would've been proud of.<br><br>So Joe, I'd like to ask you and the 40 or 50 other guys who wrote me to tell me how wrong I was a simple little question: ANY THOUGHTS?<br><br>The fact is, only a sucker could ever have believed Saddam had anything to do with the insurgency. You really thought he was Mister Big, running things from his kiddie-fort in somebody's back yard? Holed up there with a few comic books and Milky Ways like a junior high kid hiding from the school district? He didn't even have any communication equipment. Kind of hard to run an insurgency when you can't even talk to anybody unless they sneak into the back yard, yank out the concrete plug and crawl into your secret hideout. That's just not how it's done.<br><br>An urban guerrilla war like we're facing now is about the most labor-intensive business in the world. You have to be on the street, checking things out every second. You've got to be what my [censored] boss would call .a people person. You need to know who.s doing what, who can be trusted, who's going soft, whose cousin just got arrested, who's been complaining--you have to know everything. Not just about your side, but about the occupiers too. Can't be done from a kiddie fort.<br><br>Can't be done without bigtime public support, either. I can tell just from the way the attacks are going that the insurgents have everybody, and I mean everybody, in these towns like Fallujah backing them. You can't stage these roadside-bomb attacks as successfully as these guys are doing unless everybody in town is with you. You really think a couple of hardcore deadenders sneak up to an intersection at night, plant the bomb, and nobody sees them?<br><br>You can't do anything secret in an Arab town. Jesus Christ, these are the most sociable, nosey people in the world. I used to live by this corner grocery store that was run by Arabs and I stopped going after a while because the guy always touched me, called me "my friend," asked me where I was last week. I got sick of it. I don't like people talking to me, never mind touching me. I started driving to Safeway instead.<br><br>But to an Arab, everything's personal, everything gets watched. I found that out one day when I was in a hurry. Instead of driving to Safeway I went back to this Arab's store for Diet Coke and donuts, and he glared at me like I was his worst enemy. I tried to give him the money and he just said, "You don.t like dees store, do you?" I go, "Uh, no, I like it fine," and he goes, "I see you, you go to Safeway." I was so spooked I left the stuff on the counter and got the Hell out. Never went back.<br><br>Arabs are people persons, nosey as Hell. The only thing they like better than cheap cologne is spying on everybody in the neighborhood. So you have to face the fact that everybody in these towns where roadside bombs are hitting our patrols not only knows who planted the bomb but helped them do it.<br><br>For one thing, the bombs are killing our guys without a lot of civilians, no "collateral damage" so to speak. People don't realize how hard it is to do that--to hit the right target without blowing away a lot of civilians. What it proves is that they know enough to stay out of the way when the bomb's going to go off. They've got advance notice. Everyone in town, from grandmas to babies, is sitting inside their houses holding their breath waiting for the big BOOM!<br><br>Americans just don't understand how hard it is to carry out this kind of stuff.<br><br>Try thinking about it for a second, actually thinking like an Iraqi guerrilla. You have nothing. You start from scratch. So step one is getting a bomb. That means dealing with a lot of people--somebody's cousin who stole a couple of mortar shells, or a cop sent out the word he's actually on your side.<br><br>Before you even contact this guy you need to know, can you trust him? You don't get a second chance. If you contact him and he's actually working for the occupiers, they'll have you down in the basement with a guy smashing your fingertips with a hammer. Then they'll bring in your wife and start on her.<br><br>If you make contact and it goes well--you get the explosives from him--you're still a long way from being able to set up the bomb. You still need detonator wire and something like a blasting cap to set it off, so you have to contact another dude, maybe some guy who used to work in the Fallujah Radio Shack. Before you talk to him you need to know.for certain, no second chance, if you can trust him. If you're wrong: basement. Hammer. Fingernails.<br><br>So just getting your material is a big, scary step. It involves dozens of people, and if just one of them turns out to be working for the other side, your whole insurgent network will be wiped out before it carries out a single attack. The guy who told you who to contact--what if they capture him and take him down to the basement? It won't be a nice polite interrogation. It'll be torture.<br><br>I'll tell you a secret about torture: it works. On everybody. The movies lie, the way they have the hero holding out while they work him over. Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, George Patton--everybody talks under torture. Some in a second, some not till you've smashed all ten fingers and started on their balls. But sooner or later, everybody talks.<br><br>I've read accounts of guerrillas who started carrying pistols all the time (a real bad idea for an urban guerrilla, who needs to be able to pass through maybe a dozen police checkpoints every day) because they were so scared of torture that they wanted to be able to kill themselves if they were captured. Same idea behind the cyanide pills the Tamil Tigers carry: at least you can tell yourself you won't be tortured.<br><br>You can bet we're ready to use torture in Iraq, no matter what the papers say. It's basic practice in counter-insurgency warfare. We probably farm it out to Iraqis so we can deny taking part, but we're doing it.<br><br>Once you've got your materiel, you have to make the bomb. Not in a high-tech weapons factory but in somebody's basement. At every stage, you could be snitched on: moving the bomb to the basement, working on it, carrying it to the ambush site. The fact that we're not catching guys at these stages means we've got no decent snitches in Iraq. And that means we're losing the war. Snitches are the most important weapon in urban guerrilla warfare. You can put a squad on every corner, but if you don't have informers in the resistance, your soldiers are just targets, sitting ducks.<br><br>Not only do we not have informers, but it's clear the insurgents do. And good ones. They score a direct hit almost every time with these roadside bombs. That means granny's sitting at her window with a notebook, timing each American patrol so she can pass the info on to the resistance. It means every kid on the block is .playing. in the street just so they can get a good look at who's manning the machine gun at the corner, when the GIs lose concentration, where their blind spots are.<br><br>If you're the urban guerrilla, you have to know what info to trust. First of all, is anybody feeding you false info, luring you into a counter-ambush? Good counterinsurgency armies like the British and the Israelis do this all the time: lure the guerrillas into hitting an apparently soft target and meeting them with a squad of SAS or Paras. So once again, you.ve got to be a people person, got to know how to handle all your sources. Not just whether they.re traitors, but whether they talk too much. One of the most deadly dangers for an urban guerrilla is the neighborhood guy who brags about his rebel connections to impress the ladies: "Yeah, I'm helping our glorious rebels, I'm in with them, in fact I helped them set up this great ambush we're gonna do next week--so what's your sign, honey?"<br><br>If just one of the hundreds of people who know about the ambush talks, you're finished. Rounded up and blindfolded, then taken down to the basement, where--it's.you guessed it--fingernails, meet Mister Hammer! If you trust your sources, you put the ambush in place. Where? You have to pick a place where you'll kill soldiers but not civilians. Hard to do in a crowded Iraqi town. (If you start killing your own civvies, you'll breed informers like roaches. It.s fatal for guerrilla groups to get that sloppy.)<br><br>Once you're in place, you have to wait. Think how that must feel. Ten, 20, 30 hours sitting in place, waiting for your target. Panicking every time you hear a diesel engine or heavy footsteps coming your way, thinking about that basement, with the hammer. Maybe a patrol comes along just when the local kids' soccer game is on. You can't trigger the ambush. You wait again, another hot long day. That day the patrol happens to come by just when some idiot is driving his water-truck just behind them. You can't fire.<br><br>Imagine the discipline--what the Germans call "fire discipline"--it takes to maintain a static ambush like that. And then trigger it at the right time. Not easy for amateurs, and the Iraqis are amateurs.<br><br>So what does it say that they've been doing these ambushes every single day for months, most of the time hitting us hard, killing GIs, without killing Iraqi civilians or getting caught? Simple--it means everybody, and I repeat: EVERYBODY in town is with them. Not just passively, but actively helping them. The Iraqis are our enemies. The people we're there to liberate hate our guts.<br><br>Now plug in this fact: every single day, our troops run into at least 25 attacks like this. You realize how many people that implicates?<br><br>Ordinary Iraqi amateurs so pissed off they're ready to go through all the sheer terror of a day in the life of an urban guerrilla, just to get a shot at the soldiers we sent there to liberate these people. That's the situation.<br><br>It'd help if we'd face up to it. So far nobody I know wants to. Not at the office where I work anyway. They've clammed up about the war. They're still for it, but they know it's going bad. So instead of thinking about it, they've decided to forget about it and get all upset about whether a couple of fags are going to get married in San Francisco. Cheney must be sending secret thank-you notes to the fags in SF for distracting everybody from this mess in Iraq. Them and the Jacksons. Between them, they're the best propaganda Bush has, because they keep the suckers distracted.<br><br>When you try to talk to people about it, they tell you one of the lies they got on TV. Like after the big attack in Fallujah, this Christian-Republican secretary says to me, "Well they've proved it was just foreign agitators."<br><br>Right. A gang of 50-plus foreign agitators stage a successful daylight urban attack.<br><br>I went on the net to check this crazy lady's version and found this, from USA Today, the day after the attack: "Two of the dead insurgents carried papers identifying them as Lebanese and one carried papers identifying him as Iranian, according to Iraqi and U.S. military officials." Turned out Paul Bremer, our Iraq honcho, helped spread the lie too: Bremer told ABC's This Week on Sunday that he believed the attackers were from outside Iraq.<br><br>I guess that was good enough for the suckers in Fresno, because nobody bothered to check out the disclaimer in the next day's USA Today--"Iraqi insurgents, not foreign terrorists, overran the police headquarters here in an audacious daylight raid over the weekend, Iraqi police officials said in interviews Sunday--the four dead and one wounded assailant all appeared to be Iraqi, police said. Lt. Col. Brian Drinkwine, who commands the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne battalion responsible for the city, said police were able to identify several of the attackers as local residents during the raid."<br><br>These guys weren't just Iraqis, they were "local residents" so familiar to the Iraqi cops that they could identify the bodies on sight: "Oh yeah, that's Rashid, he works at the 7-11. And there's Hamid from the hardware store!"<br><br>You can bet the four dead attackers are local legends by now. Families will be naming their kids after them, putting pictures of them on every wall. You can also bet they had little brothers who are just itching to pick up their dead brothers' RPG-7 launchers. Meaning this can go on and on. I keep coming back to the line an anonymous US officer told a reporter months ago: "You tell me how this ends, because I don.t see it ending ever."<br><br>The more I checked out the Fallujah battle, the crazier the press coverage got.<br><br>If you.re wondering why we left the cops to defend themselves, here's why, in a story from CNN last December:"The U.S. military has reduced its presence at a police station in the restive town of Fallujah, west of the Iraqi capital, a coalition spokesman said Friday.<br><br>"The move is characterized as a step toward having Iraqis police themselves.<br><br>"Calling it a 'positive step forward,' Maj. Sean Gibson said the 3rd Infantry Division was reducing its presence at one Fallujah police station from 30 to six people.<br><br>"He said Iraqi police in the city--the site of frequent unrest and attacks against U.S. troops--had told U.S. military officials that they could handle a greater share of policing duties.<br><br>"Iraqi police also had complained to U.S. troops that their presence was endangering Iraqi police."<br><br>That's what happened: we started believing our own lies so much we actually stripped our troops from the most dangerous city in Iraq because Bush & co. were more interested in making their phony Vietnamization program look like it was working than actually keeping the situation under control.<br><br>Another hard lesson from the story is in that last line I quoted: "Iraqi police also had complained to US troops that their presence was endangering Iraqi police." That's how much we're loved, people. So much that the Iraqi cops were begging us to get the Hell away from them because we draw too much fire.<br><br>If we'd listened to them fast enough, it might've worked. Beat Saddam's army, then vanish and let the locals get the glory. Instead we did the worst of both worlds: stuck around pissing off the locals til they were ready to die for the chance to take a few of us with them, then left our poor scared local ARVN types on their lonesome.<br><br>Which is why they got their asses kicked for them last week.I tried explaining some of this in the coffee room at work, but nobody wanted to know. The guys were all tough about it and one of the secretaries said, .Well, at least there hasn't been another 9/11 since we went in there!.<br><br>I told her the joke about the elephant repellent, but she didn't get it. I'll try it on you, see if you get the point: Somebody asks this guy why he keeps spraying himself with this smelly gunk, and he says, "It's elephant repellent." The other guy says, "But there.re no elephants around here!" The guy with the spray says, "Yeah.the stuff really works."<br><br>So, Joe, those are my thoughts.<br><br>One last thought: '.m a patriot, not a sucker. Some of you guys out there need to learn the difference.<br><br>source<br><br>
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Loc: the ancient forests of MiddleE...
Ever thought of trying for Officer training?<br><br>Well that is what they said to me when I actually described Vietnam to the Australian Army Officers., at the age of fifteen.. Not ever having been to Vietnam.<br><br>Well done Iraszl. It seems we do have a similarity....<br><br><br><br>
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA
<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr><p>If we'd listened to them fast enough, it might've worked. Beat Saddam's army, then vanish and let the locals get the glory.<p><hr></blockquote><p>Unfortunately this wouldn't have worked either. The only thing that was holding Iraq from civil war was Sadam's ruthless dictatorship, which simply killed all opposition. Now that he's gone there are many different factions in iraq that think this is there time to rule, and would go to war for that right. Even with US troops there this might still happen. So a much as i think Bush handled this the wrong way, i also think this would have been wrong too. The sad part is, no matter how much i think or talk about the issue i can't find a way to handle this situation now that would lead to a peaceful iraq, at least not in the next 20 years.<br><br>One thing is for sure though, one of the first things that should have happened was rebuilding Iraq's military. Because now you have thousands of unemployed ex-members of the military with no place to go. And to make it worse there's no one to keep the peace in Iraq except a woefully inadequate police force and less then helpful US troops. Which as you've seen is not a good combination.<br><br>
#146067 - 03/07/0405:48 AMClear..acccording to whom?
the people of Iraq should have been left to their own devices, Its called Self Determination.<br>The US wouldn't have to go stormtrooping all over the globe if it just let a few nations sought out their own problems, let them crawl before you expect 'em to run.<br>But like the usual bully it always has to stick its nose in all the wrong places.....maybe because it smells oil!<br><br>
#146069 - 03/07/0410:49 AMRe: Let's make some things clear
The US had a policy of hands off on Iraq under Bush Sr. even though it was quite evident that it was a ruthless dictatorship. The regime was the only thing keeping the country together (not ideal, but....dictatorships never are) and preventing it from plunging into civil war. As much as it stunk, it was felt, the wise thing was to not bring down Saddam for fear of what the aftermath of such an action would bring. Sometimes I guess -- FATHER KNOWS BEST (old '50s TV show). Even if democracy is established (at least on paper) in Iraq, I don't think it will last and will degenerate in much the same way that Haiti degenerated into a corrupt and bad regime. In the end, there isn't much you can do to bring together factions that hate each others guts, except watch from the sidelines as they continue to kill each other ad infinitum. Sad, but more or less the way it is. It's kind of like Yugoslavia was, the only thing keeping things together was Tito. When he died, all hell broke loose soon thereafter and you had the Balkans erupting into war. Sometimes, as terrible as it may seem to us here used to getting along in a democractic environment, a strong centralized leadership is the only way to keep the idiots from cutting each others throats time and time again. <br><br>
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