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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Posted by Jill | 6:45 AM
This is the Crawford Caligula's marvelous plan for dealing with the civil war in Iraq; the plan that his few remaining supporters (including Saint John McCave (sic)) think "can work:

In a miniature version of the troop increase that the United States hopes will secure the city, American soldiers and armored vehicles raced onto Haifa Street before dawn to dislodge Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias who have been battling for a stretch of ragged slums and mostly abandoned high rises. But as the sun rose, many of the Iraqi Army units who were supposed to do the actual searches of the buildings did not arrive on time, forcing the Americans to start the job on their own.

When the Iraqi units finally did show up, it was with the air of a class outing, cheering and laughing as the Americans blew locks off doors with shotguns. As the morning wore on and the troops came under fire from all directions, another apparent flaw in this strategy became clear as empty apartments became lairs for gunmen who flitted from window to window and killed at least one American soldier, with a shot to the head.

Whether the gunfire was coming from Sunni or Shiite insurgents or militia fighters or some of the Iraqi soldiers who had disappeared into the Gotham-like cityscape, no one could say.

“Who the hell is shooting at us?” shouted Sgt. First Class Marc Biletski, whose platoon was jammed into a small room off an alley that was being swept by a sniper’s bullets. “Who’s shooting at us? Do we know who they are?”

Just before the platoon tossed smoke bombs and sprinted through the alley to a more secure position, Sergeant Biletski had a moment to reflect on this spot, which the United States has now fought to regain from a mysterious enemy at least three times in the past two years.

“This place is a failure,” Sergeant Biletski said. “Every time we come here, we have to come back.”

He paused, then said, “Well, maybe not a total failure,” since American troops have smashed opposition on Haifa Street each time they have come in.

With that, Sergeant Biletski ran through the billowing yellow smoke and took up a new position.

The Haifa Street operation, involving Bradley Fighting Vehicles as well as the highly mobile Stryker vehicles, is likely to cause plenty of reflection by the commanders in charge of the Baghdad buildup of more than 20,000 troops. Just how those extra troops will be used is not yet known, but it is likely to mirror at least broadly the Haifa Street strategy of working with Iraqi forces to take on unruly groups from both sides of the Sunni-Shiite sectarian divide.

OK, so American soldiers "smash opposition" every time they have come in -- but they still need to go in regularly, going door-to-door while the Iraqi soldiers with whom they're supposed to be embedded cheer them on.

Is this what Americans signed onto even when a majority DID support this war? Is this what American families should be sending their sons to do? Go into Iraq to play whack-a-mole where the moles have guns?

Here is the unfortunate truth: Iraq is a completely fucked-up mess. Whether we stay or we leave, anarchy and violence rule in Iraq. And you didn't need to be a Middle East expert, or an expert in the history of Shi'a and Sunni Islam to know that this is exactly how this war was inevitably going to turn out. And this is why a half-million people marched in the street in February 2002.

Because we knew. And we wanted to prevent it.

And now it is Bush's war -- Bush's war and the war of everyone in Congress who made a political calculation that it was easier to give him the authority to do it and "get it off the table", as Pat Buchanan said on Scarborough Country last night. (And how sad is it that not only was I watching Scarborough Country, but actually agreeing with Pat Buchanan.) And it's the war of every American who allowed their basest fears after the 9/11/01 attacks to get in the way of their better judgment and continue voting for people who would support him in this misadventure, and those who gave this incompetent lunatic another four years to wreak his havoc.

George W. Bush's reputation and legacy are beyond repair. And not one more American life should be cut short trying to salvage what's left of it.
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