image credit: U.S. Army Here's the caption for this picture:
Spc. Herrick Lidstone, a radio operator with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, takes a security halt during a nighttime foot patrol in Sha'ab, Baghdad on May 4.
If you weren't convinced that we can't win in Iraq by my illustrated version, Patrick Lang and Ian Welsh provided the text to go with the pictures yesterday.
Colonel Lang wrote an article yesterday about those other fortresses that the U.S. is building in Iraq.
[retired Marine Corps General Anthony] Zinni is right. This is a bad idea. The reason for that is simple. The peoples of the region and across the world of Islam will regard this as proof that they were correct in their previous belief that all the high rhetoric about "liberation" and "democracy" was a lie and that the war in Iraq is simply a renewal of Western imperialism in the Middle East.
A Bad Idea
As I wrote in the comments, as far as I'm concerned you don't need to be a military expert to understand this issue. All you have to do is think about how you'd feel if this was going on in your own country. Building these things, given that we say we don't want to stay and just want to help Iraqis run their own country, is foolish in the extreme.
Ian Welsh wrote an excellent article on the strategy of guerrilla warfare. He then observes:
If people feel that the occupation of their country won’t end peacefully – then war is inevitable. If certain groups wish to impose their religion and know that it will not be allowed then war is a route to their goal. If people want law and order and occupation forces are unable to provide it – then a new government is necessary and if one cannot be obtained through peaceful means then it must be obtained through violent ones.
The Way of the Weak: Guerilla Warfare
Building huge fortresses in the middle of their country just might be taken as a sign the occupation won't end peacefully, don't you think?
Meanwhile, Juan Cole writes what many of us have been thinking lately every time we hear more about the saga of Paris Hilton on TV:
American television never mentions that the US has 19000 Iraqis in jail, or that some have been women, or that some are innocent, or how they feel about being in prison.
So is Paris Hilton being given special treatment by our media? We all are, folks.
Paris Hilton [and] Iraqi Prisoners
This morning, Christy Hardin Smith discusses the fate of some of our male prisoners. She quotes this NY Times article:
Ahktar Qassim Basit says he is not angry about the four years he spent as an American prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, before his captors mumbled a brief apology and flew him to this drab Balkan capital to begin a new life as a refugee.
It is this new life in Albania, Mr. Basit and other former Guantánamo detainees say, that is driving them to desperation.
Chinese Leave Guantánamo for Albanian Limbo
We scooped up a group of innocent people, kept them in prison for years, and then exiled them in another country they have little cultural knowledge of. We're winning friends everywhere these days, aren't we? Christy writes:
Note that the US cannot find asylum for these innocent people because the Chinese government told these nations not to take them. George Bush has put the United States in such a weakened posture that the Chinese government is now dictating terms to other nations on whether or not they can do the decent thing and accept innocent people who we have been wrongly detaining — for years — because the Chinese government doesn’t want these people to receive mercy. A lot of these nations have been enjoying Chinese loans (just like the US has been to finance a lot of George Bush’s follies), and they cannot afford to anger the Chinese and their substantially strengthened posture. Welcome to the world that George Bush built for all of us. Feeling safer now?
Who We Are At The Moment…
It's hard to imagine a bigger crew of screwups than the politicians of our country, until you look at what's gone on in the news the last few years. Have you heard about any of this stuff on TV news, in between the breathless coverage of Paris, Tom Cruise, American Idol, household pets, or whatever other nonsense they choose to devote air time to? When Scooter Libby was on trial, the TV news was all over the Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears stories. Why do I remember that? I wrote about it. The "bread and circuses" format of news these days is not only depressing, it's become dangerous to our country. We depend on these shitheads to tell us what's going on in our country, not to mention our world. That they choose to tell us about celebrity bimbos instead is a prescription for tragedy.
We're seeing one of those tragedies play out in Iraq.
UPDATE: Firedoglake is back up.
UPDATE 2: Tony Auth's cartoon summarizes the Iraq bases issue nicely (h/t Bob Geiger).