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Monday | July 14, 2003

Execute the hostages

By Steve Gilliard

I was looking at Atrios this morning, and they linked to a blog posting by Bill Grieder, long time Rolling Stone and Washington Post reporter, about the war.

On C-Span radio the other morning, I heard a Vietnam combat veteran earnestly worrying that our troops in Iraq might be "hand-cuffed." He had heard a rumor about rubber bullets that upset him. Another caller made the point more angrily "For every American who gets killed, they should take 20 Iraquians (his term) and hang them from lamp posts." This, he explained, is how the Klingons from Star Trek would handle it.

Then I got an email from a right-wing friend, a learned man with a Ph.D. in history: "We need a tough-minded Patton or MacArthur in full dress uniform...Follow the Roman rule: haul those people off in slavery and burn down the country...For every ten Americans slaughtered, burn down whole villages."

First, any adult who compares real life to Star Trek, should, in most cases, head directly to Match.com or Meetup.com to connect with human beings on a regular basis. I don't think one wants to relate the world of humans to the world that was inside Gene Roddenbury's head on a regular basis.

Second, we have the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq, not the 3rd SS Panzer. Hanging civilians to make a point is what Saddam did, but I thought we were supposed to be an upgrade from his hostage killing, village destroying ways. And his methods worked so well, he had to travel with a battalion of body guards.

Then, I have to wonder how and why a Ph.D in history would think MacArthur or Patton would contenance the murder of the innocent. My history books have them as liberators who showed mercy on their defeated enemies, not the kind of men who would murder whole villages to make a point. He might have meant a Pieper or Kesslering, but they make poor examples for the American military.

Beyond that, it leads to a larger question of how to police Iraq. Without Coalition forces and a large Iraqi police and Army, the US forces are hamstrung to do anything beyond stay alive.

What I find sad is that Congress still seems to be slow to the scale and level of deception Bush used and the resulting alienation it has caused. When John Kerry and other well meaning members of Congress suggest that NATO or Arab troops help us, they seem not to get it. They can't help us. This war remains unpopular. No one is coming to rescue us from our folly, not in any serious way.

We are still in the begining stages of our guerrilla war in Iraq. Losses will climb, attacks will grow more coordinated and staged with more intelligence and better planning. Losing one or two men a day may only be the harbinger to far greater losses.

No one is going to join Americans in a nasty guerrilla war, no matter how much we beg.

We alienated them to the point they cannot risk getting involved. Al Jazeera showed a steady diet of dead babies during the first part of the war. No Arab government wants any part of Iraq. Muslims don't want to touch it either. Bush's high handed rush to war left the US holding the bag.

Update:: In Rebuff to U.S., India Says It Won't Send Troops to Iraq
By JOHN KIFNER


NEW DELHI, July 14 In a sharp blow to America's postwar plans, India refused today to send peacekeeping troops to Iraq.

The Bush administration had hoped that India would send a full army division of 17,000 or more soldiers to serve in the Kurdish region around Mosul, and it had exerted considerable pressure on the government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to do so.

That would have made the Indian contingent second in numbers only to the United States in the occupation force and given a more international texture to a coalition that consists primarily of American and British troops. It would also have relieved hard-pressed American troops, who could either go home or be redeployed to more volatile Sunni Muslim areas in the center of the country.

...............

"Our longer-term national interest, our concern for the people of Iraq, our long-standing ties with the gulf region as a whole, as well as our growing dialogue and strengthened ties with the U.S. have been key elements in this consideration," India's foreign minister, Yashwant Sinha, said in a brief statement read to journalists after the meeting.

The reasoning, Indian political observers said, was relatively simple: the war in Iraq is extremely unpopular here.

Posted July 14, 2003 01:06 PM





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