Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bagdad Carved Up for Vietnam-like Counterinsurgency

Stephen Soldz over at Psyche, Science and Society, has an important post up on U.S. plans for the "pacification" of Bagdad. He relies heavily on an important story by Robert Fisk, over at the UK Independent: "Divide and Rule -- America's Plan for Baghdad", who calls the U.S. operation "the most ambitious counter-insurgency programme yet mounted by the U.S. in Iraq."

Soldz writes that "the plan [is to] to turn half of Baghdad into a series of immense prisons."

From the Fisk article:

US forces in the city are now planning a massive and highly controversial counter-insurgency operation that will seal off vast areas of the city, enclosing whole neighbourhoods with barricades and allowing only Iraqis with newly issued ID cards to enter.

The campaign of “gated communities” - whose genesis was in the Vietnam War - will involve up to 30 of the city’s 89 official districts and will be the most ambitious counter-insurgency programme yet mounted by the US in Iraq....

S-Iraqi forces will supposedly clear militias from civilian streets which will then be walled off and the occupants issued with ID cards. Only the occupants will be allowed into these “gated communities” and there will be continuous patrolling by US-Iraqi forces. There are likely to be pass systems, “visitor” registration and restrictions on movement outside the “gated communities”. Civilians may find themselves inside a “controlled population” prison.

But the plan, godfathered by Gen. David Petraeus, apparently is also meant to display a show of force to Iran:

But the campaign has far wider military ambitions than the pacification of Baghdad. It now appears that the US military intends to place as many as five mechanised brigades - comprising about 40,000 men - south and east of Baghdad, at least three of them positioned between the capital and the Iranian border. This would present Iran with a powerful - and potentially aggressive - American military force close to its border in the event of a US or Israeli military strike against its nuclear facilities later this year.

That Petraeus's proposal is akin to Israeli attempts to control the Gaza strip or portions of the West Bank has not gone unnoticed. Fran Shor wrote an interesting piece at Counterpunch a few years back that has lost none of its saliency.

This policy of counterinsurgency, while consonant with Israeli military occupation, is also reminiscent of Vietnam pacification programs. Such programs were intended to dry up the guerrilla sources of support when, in fact, they often led to civilian massacres and the creation of more insurgency. Part of the reason for the failure of US counterinsurgency in Vietnam "was to treat indigenous political culture as a nullity" (Richard Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation, 590)

Go read one or all of these postings, and get ready to write your editor, your Congressman, or join your favorite antiwar organization!

1 comment:

Valtin said...

An update from NYT on 4/23/07:

"American and Iraqi officials appeared today to be moving away from a plan to build a wall around a mostly Sunni neighborhood here.

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said Sunday he was ordering a halt to construction of the wall around the Adhamiya neighborhood. And American officials, who did not immediately concur, indicated today they would go along with Mr. Maliki."

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