Sunday, November 06, 2005

Hearts and minds are irrelevant 

If I had a dollar for every time that the U.S. began some big new offensive to finish of the Iraqi insurgency I would be would be getting quite wealthy by now. Yet another such offensive has now begun. Of course the scores of previous offensives did nothing to put down the insurgency. Not even the destruction of entire cities such as Falluja. So the total lack of significance of the current one should come as no surprise.

Nevertheless, the news coverage of them is sometimes illuminating. It illuminates not by telling us things any perceptive person couldn’t have already surmised. Rather, it confirms those things which we already know but that the war apoligists go to great lengths to deny. Lets take the New York Times article on the current offensive as an example:

HUSAYBA, Iraq, Nov. 5 - Thousands of American and Iraqi troops laid siege on Saturday to this town near the Syrian border in one of the largest military assaults since American-led forces stormed the guerrilla stronghold of Falluja last year, Marine Corps officials said.

The sweep, aimed at shutting down the flow of foreign fighters along the Euphrates River, began early Saturday as 2,500 American troops and 1,000 Iraqi Army soldiers, all led by the Marines, cordoned off roads around Husayba before rolling into town in armored vehicles and marching in on foot.

Insurgents armed with Kalashnikovs opened fire down alleyways and from windows. Fighter jets streaked overhead, dropping 500-pound bombs. Explosions resounded throughout the day as the invading troops advanced house by house, searching each one.

By nightfall, the American-led forces had taken only several blocks in the town's western half and still had more than a mile to go before reaching the eastern edge. At least two Americans were wounded in combat. Marines began making camp in seized houses, while sporadic gunfire and mortar explosions could be heard in the streets.


In virtually all the previous offensives along the Euphrates River corridor, marines found that the insurgents had largely moved away by the time the Americans invaded the towns.

The operations took several weeks to plan, and commanders suspect that the guerrillas somehow received leaked information, subverting any chance of surprise. Often, marines kicked down doors along dusty streets to find that homes had been abandoned.


Even so, as they began the house-to-house searches, moving west to east like a croupier's rake, marines found empty rooms, with dishes washed and possessions carefully stored away, all awaiting the owners' return, as in other towns along the Euphrates that the Marines had invaded.

There had been an exodus of families during the past several weeks, officers said. It appeared that word of the offensive had leaked out in advance once again, or that insurgents had simply assumed that the Marines would strike Husayba because it had been the only major town along the Euphrates left untouched by the Americans in the recent offensives.

First off, we see what a sledgehammer approach the U.S. takes to this war. The have jets dropping bombs on cities and tanks firing at houses. This points out what a formidible opponent the insurgents are that U.S. troops are unwilling to engage them one on one but have to use air support even in built up areas in order to win. More importantly it certainly sounds like a military that long ago gave up worrying about killing innocents or alienating the local population . And of course, at the end of the article this is confirmed:

Yet they also acknowledge that it is as hard as ever for the Americans to win widespport among the people of Anbar. "It's a very primal fight," Colonel Davis said. "We don't do a lot of hearts and minds out here because it's irrelevant."

So any talk of the U.S. fighting to liberate or give freedom and democracy to the Iraqis is just propaganda. The U.S. is fighting to put the Iraqis down – nothing more, nothing less.


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