Saturday, July 02, 2005


Why We Need an Iraq Withdrawal Timetable

"Collateral Damage"
He said Mohammed, an engineering student, was visiting his family home when some 10 marines with an Egyptian interpreter knocked on the door at 1000 local time.

He opened the door to them and was "happy to exercise some of his English", said the ambassador.

When asked if there were any weapons in the house, Mohammed took the marines to a room where there was a rifle with no live ammunition.

It was the last the family saw him alive. Shortly after, another brother was dragged out and beaten and the family was ordered to wait outside.

As the marines left "smiling at each other" an hour later, the interpreter told the mother they had killed Mohammed, said Mr Sumaidaie.

"In the bedroom, Mohammed was found dead and laying in a clotted pool of his blood. A single bullet had penetrated his neck."

The US military said the allegations "roughly correspond to an incident involving coalition forces on that day and in that general location".
(Source: BBC News Iraq envoy accuses US of killing, July 2, 2005.)
If the late Mohammed hadn't been Iraq's UN Ambassador's cousin this would have been either ignored or reported as just another dead insurgent. As it stands, some low ranker will get punished for this one incident. The real problem is that similar incidents undoubtedly happen on a regular basis, and every dead Iraqi has LOTS of cousins in their extended family. Thus, every Iraqi killed generates more volunteers for the insurgency.

US Armed Forces fighting World War 2 had a well-defined end point: the war was over once Berlin / Tokyo surrendered or were taken by force. Gulf War 1 had a defined goal: freeing Kuwait. This is more like Reagan's ill-fated Lebanese adventure: occupy Beirut until the situation stabilizes.

Reagan withdrew our forces after a truck bomb attack on the Marines' barracks, thus dodging the "quagmire" problem. The Bush-2 administration refuses to give up their dream of permanently occupying those 12 "permanent" military bases in Iraq for ensuring continued oil flows from the area. This means they can't promise to withdraw without admitting they made a big mistake.

The insurgents have a much easier task: keep Iraq in chaos until they achieve their goals. Iraq's Sunnis want political control over the Shi'ites and Kurds. Al Qaeda, like the US, doesn't care who runs the country so long as they let Al Qaeda have lots of bases and support their positions.

Setting up a deadline for withdrawal of US forces makes this a potential wedge issue between the Sunnis and the foreign Al Qaeda terrorists. Think of all US vehicles bearing placards saying "Every bomb means one more week the US has to stay in Iraq" and meaning it. Posting a withdrawal date, and pushing it out after each car bomb or suicide attack gives everyone something to look forward to - and puts the blame on the terrorists when the date slips. It won't work immediately, but it would have a cumulative effect - and let us counter the "patriot fights for his countryside" message unifying the insurgents.


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