U.S. says Iran training Iraqis to make weapons
Practice makes perfect in Iraq.
“U.S. says Iran training Iraqis to make weapons” was a headline on CNN today. I was shocked by it, especially after reading the article. Why was I shocked by the idea that Iran might be teaching Iraqi insurgents how to build bombs? Because it is almost certainly the complete opposite of what is actually going on. The bomb making technology and know how is flowing out of Iraq, not into it.
While it’s entirely possible that Iran is providing some logistical support to Iraqi insurgents, you would if you were in their shoes, it’s the insurgents who fight American forces every day that are learning new ways to construct IEDS and new ways to attack American forces. They’ve had four years to practise and they are getting better at it steadily. Insurgents and irregular forces can adapt and change their tactics with lightning speed compared to giant conventional armies like the US’s. Quite literally the US forces in Iraq are the Redcoats standing in the field while the Yankees shoot at them from the bushes.
This is why it’s so infuriating (at least one of the reasons) when people say “progress is being made” in Iraq. Yes, our enemies are getting better at killing American soldiers, this is progress? Bush has sat in the White House for four years now pretending that everything is under control while our enemies use our soldiers for target practice and live fire training in Iraq.
What is even worse, is that the knowledge of how to build IEDs is spreading from Iraq to other countries. Roadside bomb attacks have become more numerous and sophisticated recently in Afghanistan, and they are showing up in Somalia now as well. Brace yourself, it’s a good idea, the world has a lot of roads and there are a lot of troops operating in countries where they are not welcome. The USA hasn’t even been able to make the highway from the Baghdad Airport to the Green Zone safe in four years, this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
Am I saying the situation is hopeless? Am I saying we can’t fight the insurgents? Of course not. I’m saying that a successful counter-insurgency requires a deep understanding of the people being fought and a willingness to skillfully use every resource at your disposal, which includes diplomacy. “Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, and the Iraqi insurgents are just all terrorist bad guys and we’re going to kill them all” is neither a sober analysis of the situation we face, nor a plan.
It is however a sure fire recipe for endless violence, instability, and war on a regional or even global scale. There are some who have suggested that that is indeed the plan. I still prefer to believe that the Bush administration is just incompetent and driven by a comic book ideology, and they are aren’t actually engaged in a diabolical scheme to commit the USA to endless war. I’d hate to be wrong about this one, God help us all if I am.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post.)