News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Commentary: Why the Gunships?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Commentary: Why the Gunships?

News reports show that the Pentagon is sending the famous (or is that infamous) C-130 gunships to fight the insurgency in Iraq. On the face of it, this seems normal--there is a war, after all. But some questions arise.

First, why now? ...

That question crops up because this insurgency has been going on for some time. So, are you telling me that the Pentagon just now realized that it needs these birds now. Yeah, I know, their planning has been off all along.

But the question still remains: Why now?

After all, the favorite attack methods used by the insurgents include IEDs and suicide bombs. Not much a C-130 gunship can do against those, is there?

So what's changed in the tactics that might lead the higher pay-grades to send these birds into the air?

Oh yeah, there's a civil war going on. But the top brass deny that. Yeah, well, after three years of lies, misinformation, and disinformation about this war, I think few are gonna take those prognostications to the bank.

That and a dollar will get you a good cup of coffee.

Still, what's so bothersome about a civil war? I mean, many experts have said for the last few years that Iraq's been in a low-intensity civil war anyway.

Okay, but things are different now. Now, there's a real chance for all out civil war. If that happens, I imagine the gunships can hold off warring factions from tearing each other's lings out and feeding it to their families.

All of this is--of course--pure speculation. I think the real reason, though, is something that few in the MSM have entertained or reported on. That's the fact that the Sunnis and the Shiites could band together to get rid of the US forces.

Fanciful? Not really. Muqtada al-Sadr, a cleric whose political capital has risen dramatically in the past few months, called for just such a union between the factions.

Okay, let's say this has some feasibility. Why the gattling guns? Here goes: should the Iraqis actually join forces against US forces in a way they didn't under Saddam, the potential for all-out war arises. Then you have to worry about your supply lines, lines of communication, and perimeters, etc.

A war in which 100s of thousands of motivated Iraqis try to oust the occupier is quite different from maybe 50,000 insurgents.

That's why I think the Pentagon has sent the C-130s. They're planning for a scenario that ultimately jeopardizes all of our troops in a way they have not seen.

All along, my concern has been that the Iraq war would fall out in the following way. The Iraqis would lose battle after battle, giving the impression that the US is winning. Once the US is there, deeply ensconced in the country--entrenched and surrounded--the Iraqis would then turn en masse against US troops.

The first stage of this war was to make the US think they had the enemy on the run. The real objective was to allow the US military inside and once there they'd be outflanked and overwhelmed by a whole nation.

So, the answer to the question, "why?" is that these birds are good in a full-scale retreat.

Nightmarish? You bet. Without wanting to sound like "I told you so," though, I've been right about the outcome of this war so far, for what that's worth.

Several weeks ago, former Senator Gary Hart appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher. Amid the hilrity and jokes, Hart made an interesting statement in the context of civil war in Iraq.

I don't have a transcript, nor does the show publish one, so I have to paraphrase. Hart said something along the lines of, "[with civil war in Iraq] We will face the problem of protecting our troops."

Unfortunately, Maher did not pursue the meaning of this statement. I suggest that Hart was saying that our troops face the real prospect of being stranded in Iraq, perhaps having to fight their way out if they stay too long.

Update 3/6?06 Now there is this quote by Hart from The Seattle Times:

"Our army is in danger," he said. "If all-out civil war breaks out, we could lose our army. If Sunnis and Shiites take to the streets by the thousands, it could literally be impossible to get [the soldiers] out. ... I know that sounds apocalyptic, but it's not out of the question. We need an exit strategy. We have no choice. We're making things worse. Ninety percent of the insurgents are Iraqis who don't like the fact that we have occupied their country. ...

"I know we can't just pack up and leave right away, but we're still acting as if we hold all the cards over there. We don't. We're losing control of the situation. ... The British occupied Iraq for 35 years and finally had to leave because there was a constant insurgency against them. We haven't learned anything."
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Bukko in Australia said...

Have you studied the history of British colonisation? There were several instances in which large forces of Pommie troops were wiped out (Khartoum and Afghanistan come immediately to mind) by less-sophisticated indigenous hordes. I don't think the Iraqis had the foresight to plan your scenario in advance, but the same thing COULD happen in Iraq. The New York Times Sunday Magazine had a good article in late 2003 about how the shite (pun intended -- Aussie spelling of "shit") would hit the fan if the Shi'ites decided that it was time to throw the U.S. off like a dog shakes a flea. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind...

Anonymous said...

Should the US decides to tighten the screw against Iran, the shiites connection could make like tough for the odd 130K American in Iraq.