Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lashing Out

An article in Time soberly weighs the potential for acts of violence in Iraq:

Imagine a day in Iraq when catastrophic car bombs rip through not just one Iraqi city but several. Explosions coordinated to go off nearly simultaneously in places like Baghdad, Baqubah, Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul, all places where insurgents are actively pursuing bombing campaigns, could bring about the highest death daily death toll seen yet and leave no question about the insurgency's ability to hold the entire country in a deadly grip more or less at will.
I don't like being told by journalists to imagine things - it strikes me as an imposition - but I'm willing to put that aside for now, in order to learn about further possibilities for unrest in Iraq.

Apparently, "U.S. forces themselves could come under coordinated attacks" in different parts of the country. You heard it here first! And even the Green Zone isn't safe from the ravages of war:
30 minutes of sustained, aimed mortar fire could kill dozens in one stroke as well as shatter official Iraqi buildings that represent the only meaningful display of governmental order in the country.
Shocking. The loss of life would be bad enough, but what if the illusion of order were shattered?

Fortunately, the military has taken the lessons of the last four years to heart, and is expecting trouble. As Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner says, "We fully expect al-Qaeda in Iraq operatives to lash out and stage spectacular attacks."

All in all, this is one of the stranger articles I've read about Iraq. The facts on the ground are disturbing enough that you'd think there'd be no need for this airy speculation about "coordinated explosions."

The image of insurgents "lashing out" against US forces is obviously ideological: these attacks will forever represent the death throes of dead enders, even if they "hold the entire country in a deadly grip more or less at will." It seems an effort is being made to represent what's happening in Iraq as something other than warfare, despite the fact that this is supposedly the "central front of the War on Terror." The attacks aren't military operations, but attempts to disturb order; that this order is illusory is beside the point.

On the bright side, we're fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here. Which is not to say that Iraq isn't a springboard, of some inexplicable sort, for Al-Qaeda to attack the USA.
The terrorist network Al-Qaida will likely leverage its contacts and capabilities in Iraq to mount an attack on U.S. soil, according to a new National Intelligence Estimate on threats to the United States.
It's not obvious to me why extremists fighting in Iraq would be better able to attack the United States than extremists living anywhere else on earth, but it does underscore the point that oceans don't protect us any better than BushCo protects State Department personnel in the Green Zone:
While some 100 British embassy workers and about 55 United Nations personnel living in the Green Zone sleep in hardened housing, State Department personnel sleep unprotected. Asked how State could require workers to walk around outdoors in body armor while making them sleep in unprotected quarters, the embassy official said: "I wouldn't characterize it as being a mixed message."

U.S. embassy workers, speaking on condition of anonymity, have told McClatchy that they're angry and scared. They'll get hardened sleeping quarters when construction of the new American embassy compound is complete. That's expected to be this fall.
So everything will be fine soon. In the meantime, these workers are just lashing out.

No comments: