Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Well, I almost forgot it was twilight:
Scene from an occupation in twilight, even as it ramps up: Joshua Partlow of the Post has a great piece on an Army operation comprising about 350 soldiers who patrol the northern outskirts of Baghdad over two days. Supposedly there's an al-Qaeda presence in the neighborhood that harasses Shiites, terrorizes the local Sunnis and uses the area as a logistics hub to transport explosives and guns into the center of the capitol. The soldiers discover a weapons cache but no insurgents. Locals say they're nonviolent but don't appreciate the U.S. presence. The Iraqi police and Army have no interest in joining an operation that they're billed as leading. Then, finally, there's this:

Without such heightened presence, he said, even armed residents are afraid to confront the insurgents. "I know they have AK-47 weapons in their house. What they'll always tell you is, 'until you're out here full time we can't' " respond, (Lt. Col. Kurt) Pinkerton said.

If I were an Iraqi and I had an AK-47 in my house and U.S. troops asked what it was for, my response would be something on the order of yessir, I want to fight those insurgents, surely I do, but you've got to go out there first. Commanders like Pinkerton have little choice but to extend to them the benefit of the doubt -- population-protection doctrine dictating the need not to needlessly antagonize people who aren't clearly your antagonists. By the logic of the mission, accepting such a statement on face value is the right thing to do. But that still doesn't make it any less perverse for Pinkerton and his soldiers.

--Spencer Ackerman
A song lyric I recognized!

-Sam L
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