Thursday, April 15, 2004

I just found this article, written last month, on the public opinion polls for how Iraqis feel about their current state of affairs. The editorial tries to make it seem as though things are going well in Iraq, with the large portion of the population seeing an improvement in the country compared to the same time last year. While the polls are correct, we must think back to the state of Iraq in March of 2003.

Iraq was at war with the coalition. Saddam's regime had yet to be ousted, and civilians were being routinely shot by jumpy American servicemen at checkpoints across the country. I was decidedly pro-war at that time. I thought that taking control of Iraq would allow us to steal all the oil we wanted and drop the prices on gasoline. I was cheated.

Of course things are better than they were then. The war is over, and some of the shit we blew up last year is being rebuilt. This article was written before the insurgency and the Mahdi Army had really begun to grow, so if the same poll were put out today, I would be very interested in seeing how the Iraqis feel about the occupation now. Although there are some signs that the bloodbath in Fallujah and elsewhere might calm down some, we are still on very shaky ground. The insurgents are still ambushing our troops, and our troops are still falling for these ambushes. We have now begun to occupy abandoned buildings in the city and are setting them up as ambush points and sniper nests just like Sadr's minions, so we are starting to learn how to fight an effective urban battle with them. But the British are a little concerned with our tactics in this new upsurge in violence.

The British chain of command have stated that they are concerned that our response to the attacks in Fallujah are out of proportion with the threat we are under. They believe that American forces are fighting as if every Iraqi is out to kill them, and they have no concern for innocent lives. Now, while not all Iraqis are out to kill our troops, a good portion of the residents of Fallujah are. Even if they don't pick up a weapon, collaborators allow gunmen to hide in their houses, feed them, and sometimes act as "meatshields", standing in the line of coalition fire so that U.S. forces can't get a good shot at militiamen. This is just plain dirty pool. Although attacking a mosque was not the greatest idea we've ever had, the lion's share of the blame falls on the religious leaders who allowed gunmen into their compound and begin firing on our soldiers. These tactics are used to undermine the occupation, and are largely successful. We hate hearing about the "innocent" civilians caught in the crossfire almost as much as we dislike seeing the corpses of our countrymen hanging from a bridge in some shitpot town on the other side of the world. I have a hard time believing that the residents of Fallujah thought that we weren't going to go in and lay waste to their town in retaliation. I was hoping we wouldn't, because this action has further sullied our reputation as a just and good army, but I guess that was just wishful thinking.

So, yes, things are a little bit better than they were a year ago in Iraq, but not by much.

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