Sunday, January 01, 2006

The New Year looks to be anything but happy for Iraq 

Despite all the U.S. propoganda and spin things are clearly not going well for the occupying forces in Iraq. Moreover, they are starting to show signs of desperation. An article today in the Sunday Times had so much clear evidence of that its hard to know where to begin.

For starters, the U.S. is dramatically stepping up its bombing capeign. From the Times:

AMERICAN forces are dramatically stepping up air attacks on insurgents in Iraq as they prepare to start the withdrawal of ground troops in the spring.

The number of airstrikes in 2005, running at a monthly average of 25 until August, surged to 120 in November and an expected 150 in December, according to official military figures.

The tempo looks set to increase this year as the Americans pull back from urban combat, leaving street fighting increasingly to Iraqi forces supported by US air power.

From a military point of view this is a complete disaster for the U.S. In effect, it is an admission of defeat. In spite of U.S. claims, there is no way this bombing will kill only insurgents - it will kill a great many civilians (it probably already is but seeing as in the U.S. there is almost no media coverage of the war its not possible to know). And killing civilians is a guarenteed way to boost support for the insurgency.

In fact these kind of air campeigns are almost a guarenteed way to increase the resistence of your adversary. In the second world war the U.S. deliberatly bombed the German civilian population. When they reviewed the effect of the bombing campeign after the war, in a study called the Strategic Bombing Survery, they realized that bombing civilians only surved to increase the determination of the German population to resist to the end, which they did. Similiarly, although far more bombs were dropped on Vietnam than in all of the second world war the Vietnamise population never capitulated. They fought on in an ever more derermined fashion until the U.S. finally left.

So the U.S. military commanders know this won't work. They are probably turning to air power a) because they simply don't know what else to do and b) because the U.S. government is coming under pressure to draw down troop levels and one way to do that without it looking like a retreat is to increase bombing. Regardless of the intent, we can expect the insurgency to grow in proportion to the use of airpower.

As to the so-called troop drawdown here is what the Times said:

“The bottom line will be that as the Iraqi army and police gain in competence, they will be able to take on more and more of the territory,” said General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, announcing a cut in troop numbers from 160,000 to fewer than 138,000 by March.


If the use of planes proves effective, US troop levels should fall below 100,000 by next autumn in time for the American mid-term congressional elections. The US death toll in Iraq last year was 841 — just five short of the 2004 total.

First off, this "reduction" of 160,000 to 138,000 is a joke. The normal level of troops in Iraq for some time had been 138,000. It is only 160,000 because they increased it due to the elections. So rather than a cut this is just a return to normal. Whats more, this is not a move they are attempting due to success on the ground in Iraq. Rather, it is a response to political pressures in the U.S. where even some formerly pro-war politicians are starting to see the writing on the wall and want out. With both Bush and the war polling very poorly they know they can't keep this up much longer.

Yet, any reduction is U.S. troops will only embolden and streanghen the insurgents. They certainly won't be fooled. They will see it for exactly what it is, the beginnings of a retreat. Additionally, the fewer U.S. troops there are in Iraq the better for the insurgents. In spite of what the U.S. high command says they DON'T have enough troops there to win the war. U.S. generals can't say that because they know they'll lose their jobs. But officers in the field say it. Last week on a Sunday morning talk show they had a rountable which included Lara Logan who has been the CBS correspondent in Iraq and very, very much a pro-war cheerleader. When asked about a troop drawdown she stated emphatically that all the officers she talks to in Iraq complain bitterly they don't have enough troops and therefore can't actually hold any ground against the insurgents. Coming from such an apologist for the war that says alot about the true nature of what is going on there.

So far, we have the U.S. adopting military tactics that they know will fail and beginning a troop drawdown that no matter how they dress it up is nothing but the beginning of a retreat. Given these facts it would seem that the U.S. is beginning to acknowledge defeat in Iraq and would need to begin to change what its objectives are there. In fact, from the Sunday Times article we see that they are beginning to do just that:

President George W Bush promised in a pre-Chistmas speech that America will leave Iraq only when “victory” has been achieved, but the term is being quietly redefined.

Dov Zakheim, a senior Pentagon official during Bush’s first term in office, said: “The goal is not democracy, it is a united Iraq that doesn’t bother its neighbours. There is no law that says American troops have to be in the most hostile areas.”

So lets see if we have this straight. First the goal was eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction that Iraq supposedly had. Then when it turned out that they didn't have any the goal was we were "liberating" Iraq and bringing democracy to the Middle East. Now democracy is no longer important, they just need a "unified" Iraq that doesn't attack its neighbors. Sounds kind of like what they had when Saddam was in power. And if they had some face saving way to do it I'm sure they would put him back in power. But they don't so they will come up with some new dictator who they will have try to rule using an iron fist supported by American bombs. 2006 and 2007 will be about seeing if that works. But for now it sure looks like a steady descent into hell.


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