Tuesday, February 13, 2007


You simply do not know who is an insurgent and who is not, and to complicate matters, the "right" answer changes from hour to hour and from day to day.

All the high tech weaponry in the world cannot look into a man's heart and tell you what he is thinking.this is what you are, in part up against:

Let me give you a fictional example, lets call him Ali. Ali is a gas station owner. When the Americans arrived in Baghdad, Ali was optimistic. He hated Saadam Hussien. Ali's uncle, a minor Shia Imam had been imprisoned for three years by the Baathists.Ali thought the Americans would bring american style prosperity to Baghdad, and eagerly looked for their leadership in building a new and better Iraq.

Unfortunately for Ali, things got worse, not better. Gas became in short supply which meant his wages went down. While some Iraqis were getting rich, it wasn't Ali. The Americans were throwing money around but none of it was thrown in Ali's direction.Then Ali's brother, a plumber was shot and killed by a frightened American nineteen year old at a checkpoint. His little old Toyota had poor brakes and didn't stop quickly enough at a checkpoint. They didn't know about the brakes, or that his brother was almost blind.

Ali was then enraged when the Americans went to Ali's brothers house and interrogated his sister in law with no relatives present.Then Ali heard about a relative who had been locked up and tortured in Al Ghraib and similar happenings. Ali was not feeling very secure either. There were rumors of Sunni's "getting even" with Shia people. Ali wondered if he had ever made any enemies who would come after him. If they did, the police would be no use, they were corrupt anyway, and as for the Americans - forget it!

After two years of depressing violence, Ali was desperate. His business was going nowhere. It was becoming dangerous to visit certain areas. He had bought an AK47 at great expense for home safety, but things were getting worse.

But then he met Omar at the local Mosque. The next week Omar appeared at his gas station and bought some fuel. Omar agreed with Ali that the situation was bad and blamed it all on the Americans, corrupt Iraqi politicians and the Sunnis. A week later Omar came to Ali's for a meal. Omar said that he knew someone who could help Ali keep his house and business safe.The next week, after Friday prayers, Omar introduced Ali to Maki. Maki explained that he was part of a Shia militia and that he would be happy to keep a watchful eye on Ali's home and business, purely out of friendship and religious duty.

Ali was relieved.Things got a better for Ali. Maki and his friends bought their gas from him and violence in their suburb declined.Then one day Maki asked a small favor in return. Would Ali mind ringing this phone number if he saw any Americans or security contractors? Of course Ali would.Six months later Maki asked Ali if he would mind burying this package in the floor of his house? It was ammunition, Maki explained, and he might need it at any hour of the day or night. He was asked to bury it under something metal so that it could not be easily detected.Six weeks later Maki rang Ali at six pm. Could he please dig up the package and bring it to a certain place where Maki's friends would meet him? The next day Ali heard an IED explosion had killed two Americans nearby. Maki told him that the IED was his package, congratulated him and thanked him for doing his patriotic and religious duty. Maki gave Ali three mortar rounds to hide.As if in retaliation, American troops then conducted a "search and destroy" sweep through the neighbourhood, Ali was warned it was coming, but his wife and daughters were interrogated but said nothing. Others were not so lucky, a friends teenage son was shot while running away from his house.Ali introduced the grieving friend to Omar.......

Multiply this by millions of Iraqis and you have your insurgency.

Gum chewing, sunglass wearing idiots in body armor with a "bad attitude" cannot defeat Ali and his ilk. They have to be won over, and our opportunities to do so have been squandered.

Against such "insurgents" all of "shock and awe", "net-centric networked warfare", "precision guided munitions", "surgical strikes" is just BS.As for little forts scattered through Baghdad, this is not a good idea. It worked in Malaysia (fortified towns)because when the bad guys attacked them, the search and destroy that followed was through country where anyone was fair game.I shudder to think what a "rapid reaction" force is going to do when one of these forts are under attack.

Posted by: walrus | 28 January 2007 at 02:43 PM

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