Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dejavu all over again 

Is it just me, or does this article, which was the front page headline on USAToday seem odd:

The battle for Baghdad, again
Bush, al-Maliki to send troops; ‘control Baghdad, control Iraq'
By Rick Jervis and David Jackson

BAGHDAD — The battle for Iraq's future has come down to this: Can the country's U.S.-supported government control escalating violence in the streets of its capital?

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with President Bush on Tuesday at the White House, where they announced a plan to dispatch more U.S. and Iraqi troops to Baghdad to try to salvage a faltering security plan for Iraq's war-ravaged capital.

The leaders said an unspecified number of troops would be redeployed to respond to a surge in violence that has killed more than 100 civilians a day since Bush's surprise visit to Baghdad six weeks ago, when al-Maliki announced a security crackdown in Baghdad.

About 9,000 of the 125,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are in Baghdad, a city of about 6.5 million where centuries-old tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims have exploded into increasingly difficult-to-control violence. The chaos is being fueled by militias and foreign Arab fighters such as al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni extremist group trying to undermine U.S.-led efforts to establish a democracy in that nation. There are about 43,000 Iraqi soldiers and police in Baghdad.

Bush said additional U.S. troops will be sent to Baghdad from elsewhere in Iraq and will help train Iraqi security forces to eventually take over the job of protecting the capital. The plan includes placing more U.S. military police with Iraqi forces and giving the Iraqi forces more mobility and firepower. The focus will be on securing individual neighborhoods.

National security adviser Stephen Hadley said military officials are still working out a “repositioning” of forces and are deciding which ones to send to Baghdad.

“Our strategy is to remain on the offense, including in Baghdad,” Bush said during a White House news conference with al-Maliki. “We still face challenges in Baghdad, yet we see progress elsewhere in Iraq.”

Al-Maliki added that Iraq's new government is “determined to defeat terrorism, and the security plan for Baghdad has entered the second phase.”

Its kind of bizarre. I could swear they claimed they captured that place before. In fact, unless I'm dreaming I've seen constant re-runs on TV of a documentary on the Discovery/Times Channel showing how the U.S. marines captured Baghdad. Yet when I checked the TV listings, there it was "The Battle for Baghdad" with the following program description:

The invasion of Iraq is often characterized by the coalition's superior land forces, and by an infantry that advanced swiftly to the capital with minimal losses. Follow the tough land campaign, which involved hand-to-hand fighting and close engagements.

Ah, the good old days of "minimal losses". I'm sure the U.S. military looks back fondly on that time - back when war was nothing more than a big video game. Back then when they were Rambos in tanks just shooting up Iraq with narry any resistance they seemed to be having fun. Now that the Iraqis are actually shooting back they don't seem to be having as much fun. I think I can understand why. Growing up I knew lots of people who used to go into the woods and shoot deer as a hobby. I never heard of any of the hunters getting attacked by the deer. I suspect if the deer had guns and shot back not so many people would have hunting as their hobby.

Anyways, I'm digressing. I still don't get why they have to fight a second Battle of Baghdad if they already won the first. Its kind of like this problem the Israelis are having:

Close to the Israeli border, in Bint Jbeil, eight Israeli soldiers were killed and 22 more were wounded during fighting with Hezbollah militiamen, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

There were heavy casualties among Hezbollah fighters, according to Israeli soldiers. Hezbollah has not released casualty figures since fighting began.

On Tuesday the IDF said it had taken control of the city, which it dubbed Hezbollah's "terror capital." More Israeli troops were sent to the city late Wednesday.

If you control the town (in another article an Israeli officer bragged they had 100% control of the town) it seems kind of strange that you troops would be killed there. This is all starting to rather like that very nasty episode in South East Asia where we were told again and again, "we're winning, we're winning, complete victory is just around the corner (provided we send another 100,000 troops of course)". Somehow "we" never did seem to win. I wonder if this will turn out the same. I don't know about you but I hate sitting through these drawn out movies where we already know the ending.


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