Monday, September 18, 2006

Securing Baghdad Cuts Both Ways

The plan announced three days ago by Iraqi security forces and the U.S. Military seem to me to be highly problematic. The ‘landscaping’ of Baghdad amounts to a good deal of earthmoving. Berms, two to three feet high, trenches here and there, some barriers and fencing, all aimed at channeling traffic.

The plan announced three days ago by Iraqi security forces and the U.S. Military seem to me to be highly problematic. The ‘landscaping’ of Baghdad amounts to a good deal of earthmoving. Berms, two to three feet high, trenches here and there, some barriers and fencing, all aimed at channeling traffic.
Baghdadcheckpoint We’ve seen how well that worked along the U.S.-Mexico border and no one’s seriously trying to kill anyone there (at least not yet). You can tell this is mostly a U.S. plan, by the description. With a few dozen ‘checkpoints,’ military spokesman Barry Johnson says we will ensure that people move through predictable paths.
Sure we will, Barry. Maybe you’ve been in the Green Zone too long.
Johnson says Iraqis will man the checkpoints and patrol the terrain. As long as they last, that is (which is my comment, not his). Choking down traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, to a ‘few dozen’ checkpoints in a city of 5.5 million ought to beautifully concentrate suicide-bomber targets.
Carbomb_1 All those would-be martyrs, who used to have to drive around, looking for a crowd, can now get in line for assured productivity. Inch forward, until maximum victims are gathered and then just light it off. Next stop, twenty-seven virgins.
"We know there's a flow in and out of the city of those who are responsible for the violence," Johnson said. "The intent is to control Baghdad city."
Rumsfeldviperstyle_3 It’s really, really hard to believe a plan like this originated with graduates of the War College, but maybe college isn’t what it used to be under Don Rumsfeld. War planning has degenerated during Donnie’s regime to dream-wars, the smoke and mirrors of smoke and mirrors.
An administration that once sent a 24-year-old who had never worked in finance to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange, is capable of carrying through with adolescent stabs at security for a major city. This plan sounds like a 22-year-old, tops. According to the Washington Post,
“The plans were announced on a day when officials said 52 bound and tortured corpses were found across Baghdad over a 24-hour period.”
Cheneytimrussert Well, we’ll have no more of that. The new plan will so concentrate targets that there will be no time for binding and torture. As the body-count rises exponentially, the incidents of ‘bound and tortured’ will decline and administration spin-meisters will find a way to celebrate that as progress. I can’t wait for Dick Cheney on Tim Russert's show.
President Bush, in a logic known only to himself, announced
"The enemy is changing tactics, and we're adapting. The enemy moves, and we will help the Iraqis move. And so they're building a berm around the city to make it harder for people to come in with explosive devices, for example. . . . They got a clear-build-and-hold strategy."
What ‘they got’ is anybody’s guess, other than possibly a berm. If there has been a change of tactics, it seems to be away from explosive devices and toward dragging Iraqis from their homes in the middle of the night and putting a bullet in the backs of their heads. Usually after torture. Unless those heads were chopped off.
Bushlebanon_1 So, as the enemy veers away from explosive devices, Bush announces they are building two to three foot high berms around the 81 square miles of Baghdad to make it ‘harder’ for explosive devices to come in. That’s an exquisitely and predictably crafted Bush-Rumsfeld-Cheney solution. Ignore the enemy at hand (that we can’t beat) and devise a 'new' strategy for an enemy that has already moved on.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins in October, so this latest idiocy ought to be ready just in time for the enormous movement both into and out of Baghdad that accompanies Ramadan. From October 5th to November 4th, one might expect an additional crush of foot and automobile traffic at the dozen or so allowed entry points to the city.
Iraqipolicesadrmilitia Insurgents will be busy elsewhere, drifting through the darkness where Iraqi security dares not go or has been forewarned against going. Their strategy has proven to be both fluid and devastating. Adapting is the strength of flowing rivers, migrants and insurgents. Each shows an ability to move quickly in its own best interests.
They will send an occasional emissary to the checkpoints, to show the world they still control the game—martyrs, young men fed up with this life and eager for the afterlife. There seems to be a growing supply.
If ever there was a strategy that combined small benefits with enormous potential costs, it has been voluntarily delivered into the hands of the insurgents.
Now, we must wait to see what they choose to do with it.
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Other pickups to this story in the media;