Saturday, February 10, 2007

Uh, Oh

General Petraeus, the new U.S. military commander in Iraq, says the Bush/McCain troop surge plan must work or "Iraq will be doomed to continuing violence and civil strife and surely that is a prospect all must strive to avoid."

Part of the Bush/McCain surge plan has the U.S. military adding 21,500 troops to Baghdad for a security crackdown. The other part requires Iraqi security forces to help the U.S. forces defeat the Sunni insurgency and quell the sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia.

McClatchy Newspapers
, however, says the Iraqi forces are not really up to the task:

Two weeks with American units that patrolled with Iraqi forces in west and east Baghdad found that Iraqi officers sold new uniforms meant for their troops, and that their soldiers wore plastic shower sandals while manning checkpoints, abused prisoners and solicited bribes to free suspects they'd captured.

During a patrol last week in a violent west Baghdad neighborhood that's the scene of regular sniper fire at U.S. and Iraqi troops, Staff Sgt. Jeremie Oliver saw Iraqi soldiers gathered in the middle of the road, near a streetlight, making them an easy target for gunmen on the surrounding rooftops.

Thinking that something might be wrong, Oliver, 30, of Farmington, Maine, jogged over. The Iraqis were looking at pornography on a cell phone.

The shortcomings that Oliver and other U.S. soldiers observed in the Iraqi troops are at the heart of America's dilemma in Iraq. If the country's police officers and soldiers aren't able to secure the capital, a U.S. withdrawal almost certainly would mean even more widespread carnage. Continuing to prop up the Iraqi forces, however, almost certainly would lead to more American casualties, but not necessarily to victory.

That story doesn't inspire much confidence in the ability of the Iraqi forces to hold up their ends of the surge plan bargain, does it? How about this story:

Interviews with U.S. soldiers, and reporting from accompanying them on patrols, made it clear that there are profound problems with the Iraqi troops, ranging from worries that they're operating on behalf of Shiite death squads to aggravation with their refusal to carry out basic tasks such as wearing flak vests.

In a west Baghdad neighborhood where bodies often turn up beside the road, facedown on the pavement with bullets in their heads, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Brendan Griswold looked on last week as Iraqi soldiers patted down three men at a checkpoint and thumbed through their documents. The Iraqi soldiers found a fake Iraqi passport on one of the men, whom they suspected was Jordanian and possibly an insurgent.

Griswold didn't stir, determined to let the Iraqis conduct the search on their own.

"I like going out with some of them. But some of the others are hard to control; they run away when things happen," said the 24-year-old 1st Cavalry Division platoon commander from Leavenworth, Kan.

An Iraqi soldier approached him. "Where do we put them?" he asked.

Griswold pointed to the Iraqi army Humvees in front of him. Iraqi soldiers grabbed the three men, opened the back trunks of their Humvees and started to stuff them inside.

"No, not in there," Griswold yelled, as he cussed under his breath and walked over to supervise.

After he made sure the detainees were seated in the Humvees, the convoy drove to an Iraqi army intelligence office. The Iraqi troops led the three men into what looked like a darkened closet. Griswold asked the Iraqis not to abuse the detainees, then shook hands and said goodbye. As he left the intelligence building, he asked his interpreter what the Iraqi troops would do to the detainees.

"They were asking them how much they would pay to be released," the interpreter replied with a grin.

Or this one:

On a patrol in west Baghdad with Iraqi soldiers last week, 1st Lt. Schuyler Williamson told his driver to stop as Iraqi soldiers pulled a car over. Williamson got out of his Humvee and asked why they'd stopped the car. The Iraqi lieutenant, who gave his first name as Zuhair, didn't respond.

Williamson stood and watched for a few minutes. The Iraqis looked as if they were going to detain the two men in the car, whom they were starting to shove around.

When a reporter walked up, Zuhair said in broken English, "No come back here!" He dragged one of the men to the back seat of a Humvee.

Williamson asked again: "Why are you detaining them?"

Zuhair didn't respond.

Williamson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla., turned to his interpreter and asked, "Why are they detaining them?" The interpreter asked Zuhair, who still didn't respond.

"Why the hell are we detaining them?" Williamson asked.

Still no answer.

Williamson walked back to his Humvee and screamed a string of obscenities.

The Iraqis took the two men back to the intelligence section at their base. One of the men had an identification card naming him as a lieutenant in the Interior Ministry. The card, which appeared to be of high quality, was a fake, Zuhair said.

The two men, said Zuhair - who's a Shiite - were Sunnis who'd been trolling the streets for Shiites to kidnap and kill.

A group of Iraqi soldiers took one of the men into a back room. There was yelling and what sounded like someone being punched, followed by a pounding noise. More yelling followed.

Williamson left a few minutes later, not knowing whether the two men were innocents detained by vengeful soldiers or members of a death squad picked up because of vigilant soldiers.

Asked which he thought it was, Williamson said: "I wouldn't be surprised either way."

Or this one:

On a patrol in east Baghdad, Capt. Dave Eastburn, a company commander in the 2nd Infantry Division, came upon a civilian car stopped in the road with a cluster of Iraqi police trucks nearby. Two dead men were in the middle of the street. "When we rolled up, the guy had been dead for 15 minutes; the police said they didn't know what had happened," said Eastburn, 30, of Columbus, Ohio. "But we found (police-issued) 9 mm shells on the ground."

General Petraeus and the Bush administration hacks say the Bush/McCain surge plan must work or Iraq will be doomed.

Yet given the levels of incompetence and corruption within the Iraqi security forces, is there any chance in hell that they're are actually going to help defeat the Sunni insurgency and quell the sectarian violence?

Why don't we say it openly? The Bush/McCain surge plan is doomed to failure because

a) it does not send nearly enough U.S. troops to handle the security crackdown (And how could it? The military doesn't have the 350,000 additional troops REALLY needed for even a slim chance at success) and

b) it relies heavily on incompetent, corrupt Iraqi security forces that seem to be made up of either the stooges or murderous vigilantes.

Given the slim chances for success for the Bush/McCain plan, I don't know why the politicians in Washington and the talking heads and pundits in the media won't state the obvious and say: the Bushies are using the surge plan as a delaying tactic to force the next administration to deal with the fall-out from defeat in Iraq...but the defeat is already here whether we pull out now, next year or five years from now. So let's start talking about the inevitable U.S. troop withdrawal date and even more importantly, talk about what happens after we pull out and all hell breaks loose.

The underlying assumption is that the surge was designed to work. It wasn't. It was designed to look like we have a plan to win a lost war. It's the modern-day Vietnamization plan.
That's it, abi - and I just want some in the media and in Wash to actually say what many are thinking - the surge is a bullshit strategy meant to save Bush politically, but won't help to stabilize Iraq in the long run.
Actually, I don't even see how it helps Bush. The whole "more of the same" thing is unlikely to resonate much with the public.
The polls seems to bear that out, nyc.
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