fredag, december 31, 2004

Hearts & Minds of Injun Country

The Economist has an article from an 'embedded' reporter of the American army's anti-insurgcency tactics and behaviour towards the Iraqi civilian population. Well, it's not really news; they're have been many other stories about this, and they all tell the same tale: a behaviour can be summarized in one word as jackbooted. In fact, even senior British army officers in Iraq have accused their colleagues of viewing Iraqis as 'untermenschen' (of course, when they don't even listen to their own officers back in Washington...)

Arbitrarily rounding up people and sending them en masse to prisons where many are tortured is more characteristic of a South American Junta than of an open and free society, the goal supposed to be achieved in Iraq. Such flouting of basic human rights are supposed to be the price yo be paid to enforce 'law and order'. Yet, Iraq is now one the most crime-blighted countries on the planet: Baghdad is the capital with the highest murder rate in the world, twice that of second-runner Bogota (76/100,000 vs 39/100,000); and if kidnappings were a cottage industry in Colombia, they are on a Fordist scale in Iraq.

Against that, US PR efforts such as painting schools or handing out frisbees, laudable as they are, seem pathetically inadequate when such demands about basic state functions and due process are unfulfilled; case examples for the State Failure 101 course.

Furthermore, those tactics are directly counter-productive in military terms: total lack of human intelligence for the Americans, rampant infiltrations of collaborators by insurgents, resulting in events such as the Mosul suicide bombing.
Considering how casually American soldiers talk about most of Iraq as 'bandit' or 'Indian' country, the 'fort in the Far West' mentality seems to have get so entrenched that talking about them digging themselves deeper into trouble is not a metaphore but literally true...