Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Idly putting two and two together....

Juan Cole:

The US military cannot defeat the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement any time soon for so many reasons that they cannot all be listed.

The guerrillas have widespread popular support in the Sunni Arab areas of Iraq, an area with some 4 million persons. Its cities and deserts offer plenty of cover for an unconventional war. Guerrilla movements can succeed if more than 40 percent of the local population supports them. While the guerrillas are a small proportion of Iraqis, they are very popular in the Sunni Arab areas. If you look at it as a regional war, they probably have 80 percent support in their region.

The guerrillas are mainly Iraqi Sunnis with an intelligence or military background, who know where secret weapons depots are containing some 250,000 tons of missing munitions, and who know how to use military strategy and tactics to good effect. They are well-funded and can easily get further funding from Gulf millionnaires any time they like.

The Iraqi guerrillas are given tactical support by foreign jihadi fighters. There are probably only a few hundred of them, but they are disproportionately willing to undertake very dangerous attacks, and to volunteer as suicide bombers.

There are simply too few US troops to fight the guerrillas. There are only about 70,000 US fighting troops in Iraq, they don't have that much person-power superiority over the guerrillas. There are only 10,000 US troops for all of Anbar province, a center of the guerrilla movement with a population of 820,000. A high Iraqi official estimated that there are 40,000 active guerrillas and another 80,000 close supporters of them. The only real explanation for the successes of the guerrillas is that the US military has been consistently underestimating their numbers and abilities. There is no prospect of increasing the number of US troops in Iraq.

The guerillas have enormous advantages, of knowing the local clans and terrain and urban quarters, of knowing Arabic, and of being local Muslims who are sympathetic figures for other Muslims. American audiences often forget that the US troops in Iraq are mostly clueless about what is going on around them, and do not have the knowledge base or skills to conduct effective counter-insurgency. Moreover, as foreign, largely Christian occupiers of an Arab, Muslim, country, they are widely disliked and mistrusted outside Kurdistan.

US military tactics, of replying to attacks with massive force, have alienated ever more Sunni Arabs as time has gone on. Fallujah was initially quiet, until the US military fired on a local demonstration against the stationing of US troops at a school (parents worried about their children being harmed if there was an attack). Mosul was held up as a model region under Gen. Petraeus, but exploded into long-term instability in reaction to the November Fallujah campaign. The Americans have lost effective control everywhere in the Sunni Arab areas. Even a West Baghdad quarter like Adhamiyah is essentially a Baath republic. Fallujah is a shadow of its former self, with 2/3s of its buildings damaged and half its population still refugeees, and is kept from becoming a guerrilla base again only by draconian methods by US troops that make it "the world's largest gated community." The London Times reports that the city's trade is still paralyzed.

The L.A. Times:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military's plan to pacify Iraq has run into trouble in a place where it urgently needs to succeed.

U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad agree that Al Anbar province — the vast desert badlands stretching west from the cities of Fallouja and Ramadi to the lawless region abutting the Syrian border — remains the epicenter of the country's deadly insurgency.

Yet U.S. troops and military officials in the embattled province said in recent interviews that they have neither enough combat power nor enough Iraqi military support to mount an effective counterinsurgency against an increasingly sophisticated enemy.

"You can't get all the Marines and train them on a single objective, because usually the objective is bigger than you are," said Maj. Mark Lister, a senior Marine air officer in Al Anbar province. "Basically, we've got all the toys, but not enough boys."

The Pentagon has made training Iraqi troops its top priority since Iraq's national election in late January. But in Al Anbar province, that objective is overshadowed by the more basic mission of trying to keep much of the region out of insurgent hands.

Just three battalions of Marines are stationed in the western part of the province, down from four a few months ago. Marine officials in western Al Anbar say that each of those battalions is smaller by one company than last year, meaning there are approximately 2,100 Marines there now, compared with about 3,600 last year.

Some U.S. military officers in Al Anbar province say that commanders in Baghdad and the Pentagon have denied their repeated requests for more troops.

"[Commanders] can't use the word, but we're withdrawing," said one U.S. military official in Al Anbar province, who asked not to be identified because it is the Pentagon that usually speaks publicly about troop levels. "Slowly, that's what we're doing."

Such reductions are especially problematic because U.S. commanders have determined that it is the western part of the province to which the insurgency's "center of resistance" has shifted. The insurgency's base of operations was once the eastern corridor between Fallouja and Ramadi. Now, Pentagon officials say, it is in villages and cities closer to the Syrian border.

Commanders also believe the insurgency is now made up of a larger percentage of foreign jihadists than the U.S. military previously believed, an indication that there are not enough U.S. and Iraqi troops to patrol miles of desert border.

Some Pentagon officials and experts in counterinsurgency warfare say the troop shortage has hamstrung the U.S. military's ability to effectively fight Iraqi insurgents.


Why stand far off, Lord?
Why hide away in times of trouble?
The wicked in their arrogance hunt down the afflicted:
may their crafty schemes prove their undoing!
The wicked boast of the desires they harbor;
in their greed they curse and revile the Lord.
The wicked in their pride do not seek God;
there is no place for God in any of their schemes.
Their ways are always devious;
your judgments are beyond their grasp,
and they scoff at all their adversaries.
Because they escape misfortune,
they think they will never be shaken.

Arise, Lord, set your hand to the task;
God, do not forget the afflicted.
Why have the wicked rejected you, God,
and said that you will not call them to account?

Lord, you have heard the lament of the humble;
you strengthen their hearts, you give heed to them,
bringing redress to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that no one on earth may ever again inspire terror.

Psalm 10: 1-6, 12-13, 17-18, REB.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home