Thursday, December 25, 2003

In early December, the New York Times published an ominous-sounding account of the harsh measures being taken by US troops to quell guerrilla forces still operating in occupied Iraq:
As the guerrilla war against Iraqi insurgents intensifies, American soldiers have begun wrapping entire villages in barbed wire. In selective cases, American soldiers are demolishing buildings thought to be used by Iraqi attackers. They have begun imprisoning the relatives of suspected guerrillas, in hopes of pressing the insurgents to turn themselves in. …

“If you have one of these cards, you can come and go,” coaxed Lt. Col. Nathan Sassaman, the battalion commander whose men oversee the village, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. “If you don’t have one of these cards, you can’t.” The Iraqis nodded and edged their cars through the line. Over to one side, an Iraqi man named Tariq muttered in anger. “I see no difference between us and the Palestinians,” he said. “We didn’t expect anything like this after Saddam fell.”
Both Eric Rescorla and Crooked Timber's Henry Farrell noted the new American tactics with great consternation. I offered comments to each, based on my previous arguments, suggesting that their concern was misplaced.

Well, I didn't expect such quick vindication. According to the Washington Post,
At the heart of this tightly woven network is Auja, Hussein's birthplace, which U.S. commanders say is the intelligence and communications hub of the insurgency....U.S. commanders said they dealt the insurgents a major blow when they decided Oct. 30 to isolate Auja, surrounding it with fence and razor wire so the sole exit was past a U.S. military checkpoint. Russell said this move severed the insurgency's intelligence and communications hub from the outside campaign.
Of course, this latter account could be exaggerated, or even entirely misguided. But so far, at least, my analysis appears to be holding up pretty well.

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