Steve Sachs Duke


Wednesday, April 09, 2003


In the wake of war: I just read Thomas Friedman's NYT column on the looting in Umm Qasr. I don't know enough to judge whether this degree of disorder is at all unusual for wars (what was Berlin like in 1945?), but I can't imagine a situation in which this kind of unrest is in our strategic interest. It discredits America in the eyes of ordinary Iraqis, and the economic damage it inflicts will make reconstruction that much more difficult. And the fact that plans for policing Iraq are still in the planning stages doesn't give one much confidence.

So why hasn't the military done more to preserve order in the areas we've captured? Was this a logistical necessity, determined by the limited number of personnel and our limited ability to deploy and supply them? (It's only been a few weeks since the whole thing started, and I don't know how many military police we have on hand in Kuwait.) Was this a security decision, made on the assumption that military police would be in too much danger--from the fedayeen and other Saddam sympathizers--so long as the regime was still perceived as being in control? Or was this a cynical (and likely short-sighted) move to give the new civil authorities more legitimacy? After all, if the troops had left a military policeman on every corner as they went through, everyone would have been screaming 'occupation.' But if the establishment of an American-led government brings the end of looting and a return to daily life, well...

Or was it just plain foolishness?




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