[Marxism] Assessing the Surge

John johnedmundson at paradise.net.nz
Wed Jul 30 18:12:50 MDT 2008

On Wed, 2008-07-30 at 10:47 -0400, Louis Proyect wrote:
> Counterpunch, July 30, 2008
> Will Petraeus Impose the Iraq Template on Afghanistan?
> Assessing the Surge

> Over sixty percent of Iraqis are Shi’a, most of whom live in the south – 
> a region that has not had a significant US presence. The south was left 
> to the British whose practices, after many arduous years in Northern 
> Ireland, drew from counterinsurgency programs and placed emphasis on 
> respecting the local population and avoiding insensitive uses of 
> firepower – principles not always foremost in the minds of American 
> troops until recently.

What I don't like about comparisons like this is it tends to let the
Brits off the hook because they inevitably look more competent than the
Americans. I've heard lots of people talk about how benign the British
occupation of Northern Ireland has been and how this has taught them how
to do a great job as peace keepers around the world, including in Iraq.
Funnily enough, I don't ever remember hearing this from an Irish
republican. Sure, the Brits have learned heaps from their occupation of
the 6 counties, but that included things like how to use white noise,
carry out executions without getting caught, generally how to police a
hostile population more effectively. Where does "respecting the local
population" fit in with beating people up and throwing them into the
Euphrates to drown? Is it "respecting the local population" when they
force their prisoners to perform sex acts on each other as a form of
humiliation? How does "avoiding insensitive uses of firepower" fit with
SAS soldiers being apprehended in Iraqi civilian attire, with a car load
of explosives wired for a car bomb attack? Perhaps the subsequent
gaol-break to free these bastards from prison was an illustration
of "avoiding insensitive uses of firepower". Maybe, since they were
sprung from an Iraqi prison, this was them "respecting the local
population". The Brits may not embarrass themselves as often as the US
soldiers do, but the continuous tendency to compare the Brits in such
favourable terms adds nothing to the anti-Imperialist struggle.

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