News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: US Troops in the Kill Zone?

Monday, March 27, 2006

US Troops in the Kill Zone?

As I have posted before (in comments echoed by former Sen. Gary Hart), the threat of civil war in Iraq puts US troops in a perilous situation. This is not simply because the Defense Department will be tempted to choose sides, thereby contributing to one faction's genocide of another. The danger is that US troops will instead be attacked by both sides. This situation would potentially place the troops in a kill box that they would find almost impossible to escape from. ...

One instance of the danger that US troops will be targeted by both sides is the following:

The differing versions of what happened seemed to raise a broader question about who is in control of Iraq's security at a time when Iraqi politicians still have not formed a unified government, sectarian tensions are higher than ever and mutilated bodies keep surfacing on the streets.

Update I 3/28/06 Via Today in Iraq:
John Robb, via James Wolcott:

"Here's a likely scenario for how this will play out: deeper entrenchment within US bases (to limit casualties) and pledges of neutrality (Rumsfeld) will prove hollow. Ongoing ethnic slaughter will force US intervention to curtail the militias. Inevitably, this will increase tensions with the militias and quickly spin out of control. Military and police units sent to confront the militias will melt down (again), due to conflicting loyalties. Several large battles with militias will drive up US casualties sharply. Supply lines to US bases from Kuwait will be cut. Protesters will march on US bases to demand a withdrawal. Oil production via the south will be cut (again), bringing Iraqi oil exports to a halt. Meanwhile, the government will continue its ineffectual debate within the green zone, as irrelevant to the reality on the ground in the country as ever. Unable to function in the mounting chaos and facing a collapse in public support for the war, the US military will be forced to withdraw in haste. It will be ugly."

Update I 3/30/06 The situation I described in my previous posting is beginning to take shape. Clashes with al-Sadr have increased. This is not a good sign, indeed, as shown by the following article:
Some U.S. defense intellectuals have argued the now-fashionable nostrum of targeted killings or assassinations of insurgency local leaders or prominent cadre figures to "decapitate" insurgencies such as the Sunni one in Iraq.

But pursuing that kind of policy against the Mahdi Army or against Sadr himself would risk huge dangers. The Shiite branch of the Muslim faith has always been fixated on the martyrdom of heroic and righteous leaders and Sadr's father and two brothers both died violent and mysterious deaths, apparently at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime, years ago. If Sadr were to die violently too, and if the event could be plausibly, even if falsely, laid at America's door, it could set off a huge popular violent uprising across Shiite Iraq eagerly fanned by Iran.

However hard going the 130,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq find things now against the Sunni insurgency, it would be vastly worse if they faced a far larger insurgency simultaneously from within the Shiite community that could, at the very least, count on intelligence and some degree of cooperation from elements within the new Shiite-dominated police and military forces. Land supply routes to U.S. forces in Baghdad and central Iraq from Kuwait and the Gulf might then be interdicted and the Pentagon might be forced to rely on air transport, at least in the short term, to supply U.S. forces in the heart of the country.
Related Links

No comments: