RANGER AGAINST WAR: The Baghdad Beltway <

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Baghdad Beltway

Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?

Well, they're the people that you meet
When you're walking down the street
They're the people that you meet each day

--Who Are The People in Your Neighborhood?,
Bob McGrath (Sesame Street)


Former secretary of Health and Human Services and possible potential '08 presidential candidate Tommy Thompson, speaking on National Public Radio yesterday (3/20/07), winningly suggested that we poll the Iraqis to see if they really want us to stay. Because that is a question, y'know. And I can certainly understand the confusion.

Because the press has a habit of depicting the violence which does not abate in Iraq as some sort of Teddy Boy crimes between neighborhood toughs who just won't stop encroaching on the other's turf.

The New York Times reports there are "rogue elements of Shia extremists," and a troublesome "Sunni group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia," and it is an "arduous effort to head off" their "sectarian strife" ("Sunni Militants Disrupt Plan to Calm Baghdad.") And somehow, we're caught in the crosshairs. But the overall view is, we're trying to put out fires and be good stewards of our Iraqi clients.

The Times article later seemingly contradicts itself by quoting a November Pentagon report identifying the Shiite Mahdi Army as "replacing Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia 'as the most dangerous accelerent of potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence in Iraq."

As General Petraeus said recently of the car bomb factories his troops are finding in the hinterlands, "we clearly have got to find as many of those as we can to destroy them and then, obviously, to interdict those that are still able to be built." Like so many crack houses, perhaps we can eject the trouble-makers, and maybe successfully convert them into more wholesome enterprises for the locals.

"Although the focus, the priority, clearly is Baghdad, anyone who knows anything about securing Baghdad knows that you must also secure the Baghdad belts, in other words, the areas that surround Baghdad," Petraeus said. How far out do the belts go? Is it, like the ever-expanding waistbands of Americans, with the largest belt encircling the entire country? I see Iraq as a giant matryoshka doll. Baghdad is merely one of the little inside nested dolls.

It's as though we're walking in the fog of bad James Taylor lyrics: "It used to be your town, it used to be my town, too" (Her Town, Too.) Except, it never was our town. And the bloom is off the rose, and it is too late for the sentiments of the wonderful King and I:

Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you,
Getting to hope you like me.

As Badtux says, "'terrorists' ARE the people of Iraq. They aren't hiding there. They live there (3/17/07)." It is like a bad Sam Kinison routine. People, they don't want you there. I appreciate that Mr. Thomspon, in his best government self, would like a poll on the matter, but the majority of Iraqis polled have already said that it is o.k. to kill Americans. What more do we need to know?


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Blogger Lurch said...

I've maintained for more than a year that we aren't fighting "insurgents" or "terrorists" in Iraq; we're fighting a resistance. In pre-WWII France the populace generally despised Le Brun, the President, to the point that was were civil unrest and riots in several cities. Yet after the French defeat a very active resistance grew quickly as is well-documented.

The point is that Le Brun was a bastard but he was "our bastard" and they had no use for people who overthrew Le Brun and overstayed their welcome.

The other parallel to consider is pre-Revolutionary American colonies.

Civil War? Yes, certainly, Be thankful they are spending time doing violence to each other rather than uniting to throw out the Hessians.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 6:53:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


I agree with you entirely.

It is not an either-or. They are slaking off some off their animosities, but surely they want the unwelcome and rapacious American occupiers to evacuate the scene. No matter how courteously Mr. Petraeus conducts his home invasions.

We are not simply caught in the crosshairs of stray delinquents.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 7:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Killer Whale said...

"Tell me how this ends" ...

From the book "In the Company of Soldiers."

In the words of the author, Rick Atkinson,

During the past month (April, 2003), Petraeus several times had posed a rhetorical question, which became a private joke between us: "Tell me how this ends."

Prologue - Page 6.

I have a lot of respect for Petraeus based on what I have read about him. But it is almost April, 2007 now. And I bet he is still posing that rhetorical question.

Take it easy Ranger and Lisa (and you too, Lurch - if you haven't gone back to Main&Central yet).

btw, Lisa - still haven't beached myself yet. Just letting you know 'cause I know you worry about that ... :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 7:55:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Hi KW!

Thanks for the words of reassurance. I do so worry about you gentle beasts in our polluted waters...

I respect Petraeus too, but I believe he is placed in an untenable situation, lacking the resources which he himself put forth in his manual as necessary for success in such environments.

How it will end? Absent divine intervention, it does not look good, certainly not for the ostensible horsemen of democracy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 8:49:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger BadTux said...

Interesting that you liken getting rid of bomb-making factories to getting rid of crack houses. That has certainly worked out well, we won the war on drugs handily and now the only drugs you can find in America are legal ones like the ones Rush Limbaugh gobbles by pound. Ignore those guys down in East Palo Alto selling everything under the sun off of streetcorners to anybody who drives by, why, they don't exist anymore, y'know?

Yeah, this whole "War on Terrorism" is just as winnable as the "War on Drugs", so victory is assured, hoorah!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thursday, March 22, 2007 at 1:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Thank you, Badtux,

It is clear you see the intricacies of the situation...

What we need is another czar--an "IED house Czar"! Yes, if we can only ordain another one of those, we'll have the problem right near licked.

Of course, the worst case scenario is now rising to mind,and we might only foster block commanders demanding payola from the local IED houses to watch their backs...

Democracy is messy, dontcha y'know.

Thursday, March 22, 2007 at 4:42:00 PM GMT-5  

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