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Comments by YACCS
Friday, September 24, 2004

Traveller 2000, the Iraq edition

Fallout, Car Wars, Grand Theft Auto, Traveller 2000, you make the call

I've seen a lot of presidential press conferences in my nearly 40 years on this earth. But I have never, ever seen a performance like the one I saw yesterday. It was such a performance that even my mother was left stunned by it.


There are literally no words to describe how inept and unprepared Bush sounded if you didn't hear it. It is something you have to see. I couldn't even post on it for a day.


Because Bush sounded delusional. He is totally disconnected from reality. This isn't about his Guard record or his drinking, but the lives of millions, including 140,000 American and another 50,000 Coalition troops. The BBC reports that the British haven't had so much "contact" since Korea. Contact being the polite word for getting shot at.

For the unaware, the British had a brigade (5,000 men) in Korea in the Commonwealth Division. The Canadians and Australians provided the other brigades of the division. They lost a battalion on the Imjin River in 1951 during the Chinese Spring Counter Offensive.

The British have fought in any number of wars since 1953, but that comparison, not against the Russian-trained and advised North Korean Army and Chinese Fourth Route Army, but disorganized guerrillas, should scare rational people to no end.

Iraq has now degenerated into an old style Steve Jackson Games scenario. The violence in Iraq is closer to that of medieval brigandage than the modern world. Or maybe it's Traveller 2000, but either way, this makes Liberia's civil war seem less scary.

There are three things one needs to understand to get how bad the situation in Iraq is:

One, even if we had a draft, and it's passage through Congress is unlikely, because the class of Duke 2006 isn't going to Samarra for George Bush, it would take up to five years for the draftees to become part of the Army. Why so long? Because they would have to be trained and infantry school is a year. The 82nd Airborne took over a year to get into combat in WWII, the 101st, two years. Only the divisions with a hard core of regulars, the Big Red One and the 25th ID, were able to get into combat quickly, and even then took serious losses from inexperience.

The draft is not a short term solution to our problems in Iraq. And we need a short term solution. Desperately. And that can only come from large armies like the Indians, Pakistanis and Egyptians. And they aren't coming. Not after Abu Gharib. More Muslims live in India than Pakistan. Egypt is on tenderhooks as is with their own fundamentalist problem.

Two, the resistance has waged a brilliant campaign of economic warfare. While everyone looks at the war for Al Anbar province, but it's been the dedicated, coordinated sabotage of the pipelines which has paralyzed Iraq. Then they made the highways too dangerous to traverse. Only heavily armored convoys can move to and from Baghdad.

This is what drives the kidnapping. It isn't so much the demands, but the fear which cripples people. No matter how good the money, and the people hired by KBR seem to be desperate, noting the large numbers of out of shape and run down people in their orientation sessions on TV. One guy, who was clearly pushing 300+ went to Iraq to drive because he desperately needed the money. How he was going to deal with the heat and the violence was beyond me.

What the combined pipeline and kidnapping campaign has done is simple, cut off income and made foreign workers unwilling to work for the Americans.

The resistance has also worked to cut off the Americans from all manner of resources. The intelligence is shoddy, Iraqis working for the US are regularly threatened.

Oprah had on an Iraqi kid, maybe 16-17 years old, on who turned in his father to the Americans because he was a member of the resistance. He can never go back to Iraq. His own family would kill him. Not just because he ratted his father out to his new "friends", but because he violated a community code. Pulitzer-prize winning Washington Post Reporter Anthony Shadid did a story last summer about an Iraqi family who had to kill one of their own members to keep the peace.

It seem the guy ratted out some people in the next town for money. He was a Shia and they were Sunni. The guy had been a low level thug for Saddam and had a marked limp. So they knew who it was. The chiefs from the next town came to the family and said, more or less, "either you deal with him, or we're gonna come for the whole town". With a choice like that, which was no choice, the man's father and brother took him out into the backyard and shot him dead.

If you knew your father would kill you for working for the Americans, and your neighbors would gladly point you out to the resistance, which may well be your cousins, would you work for the Americans? Unless you were a spy?

Which was so sad about this kid. The clueless American soldiers used him, seemingly not realizing that they were condemning this kid to a life of exile. He can't even really associate with other Iraqis here, who would get word back to his family. He's all of 17 and he has tossed every scrap of his past behind. He can't go back, he can't even let them know where he is. They condemned him to a life of exile and treason, at least to Iraqis.

Three: Personal safety in Iraq comes from the barrel of a gun. Without bodyguards, you risk kidnapping at any time of the day or night. The kidnappings have become so brazen, so aggressive, they are a major threat. When armed gangs can crash into private homes and kidnap and murder people with no fear, there is NO security in Iraq. You have entered a land of anarchy and madness.

The Iraqi police are either infiltrated or openly hostile to American and Coalition troops. Of the 25,000 cops in Basra, not one lifted a finger to help the British. The Guardsmen are little better. They walk around with their faces hidden so they won't have their families threatened. Anyone who becomes a governor in Iraq either helps the resistance or faces humiliation or outright assassination.

The resistance rules the country by fear and the US can do nothing to stop or even limit it. The problem is that there was no central command. Any gang can rule their little area. The largest gang is the Mahdi Army, with a deep well of supporters in Basra and Sadr City.

So what you have is anarchy.

And this is where Bush comes in.

He resolutely refuses to admit he's failing, badly. Iraq is a failure. It is now a terrorist training ground. The resistance is widely supported by Iraqis. If it wasn't, people with guns wouldn't have to hide their faces, Translators wouldn't have to fear being ratted out by kindly old ladies.

His statements deny reality. The media isn't hiding the truth of reconstruction, there IS NO reconstruction. There is no way to build anything, when the engineers guide the guerrillas to the points in the piplelines to blow them up. Over 60 attacks in a year, about one a week or so. All effective.

The fact that the reconstruction was run like a Stalinist hiring bureau, with ideological tests at every corner, and then promptly run into the ground like a Five Year plan, but quicker, is of note.

We have done one thing, turn Iraq into a Steve Jackson game. A violent netherworld where the strongest gang has F-15's on call.

Democracy? Elections? Not even in the room.

posted by Steve @ 1:17:00 PM

1:17:00 PM

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