Thursday, September 27, 2007

No Business Being There

I listened to a follow up report by a journalist returning to a village in Diyala province Iraq. Us troops had moved in to quell insurgent activity and secure a bridge across a canal. When she returned, the town was nearly deserted. The only two-story building in town faced the bridge and The soldiers had commandeered the as their headquarters. Although there had been attacks and a building had been rigged as an IED against the military force, insurgent activity had ebbed somewhat.

Unfortunately, because the road leading from the bridge crossed in front the headquarters, in the name of force protection the US officer would not let anyone cross the bridge. Business dried up and most of the town was leaving.

The journalist recorded a conversation that he commanding officer had with an Iraqi man who was packing his belongings to move away. This man made some statements about how the Americans had moved in and were thus responsible for security and how they were not living up to their responsibilities. Through an interpreter, the American starts to complain to the Iraqi man that the US can not do it for the Iraqis and that they need to take some responsibility for their own security. His frustration was extremely obvious. It seems every time I her the actual voice of a soldier on the ground, this edge is glaring.

I do not blame these officers. They have been put to a task that America has not built it's military to perform. It may even be an impossible task. I do not blame the Iraqis. I imagine their history has been such that individuals are not encouraged to take initiative on security issues - it is the job of the tribe, warlord or strongman.

The simple fact is that our men and women are not trained nor psychologically suited to a colonial or imperial enterprise. Americans do not have the patience or tolerance to operate in such an different culture. Yet another reason that our mission is likely doomed to failure. Pull 'em out. They can do no further good.

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