Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Nobody asks why 

Juan Cole points to this story by an embedded reporter in Iraq -- he is from a Massachusetts newspaper and was reporting on a Massachusetts national guard unit.
Now, Cole didn't point this out, but see if you notice what I noticed:
During my first night at [Forward Operating Base]Speicher, Col. Francis McGinn received a midnight phone call and raced off. A Humvee patrolling the perimeter of the base had taken small arms fire, and had been unable to locate its origin. Two Apache helicopters were scrambled and were above the scene in four minutes. Despite using their advanced night vision equipment, they were also unable to locate the enemy. Nothing causes an Army base commander in Iraq to lose more sleep. "My first priority is avoiding a catastrophic event,'' the 42-year-old McGinn, a Braintree resident, said. "For example, an insurgent penetrating the base perimeter at night wearing a suicide vest of explosives.'' Promoted to colonel on June 9, McGinn is responsible for overseeing a sprawling base in hostile territory. Tikrit is the hometown of Saddam Hussein.
Did you notice? The colonel of this unit thinks his most important job is just to protect his men. So basically, I wonder what good are they doing there? Why are they there at all?
Its a question which nobody seems to be asking, either in the army or in the media.
I think this is another indication that the military is just marking time in Iraq, waiting for the politicians to come to their senses and trying to survive until they can all go home.
And later on, the reporter describes a grim little vignette about how the colonel went to visit the family of an Iraqi interpreter who had been killed by insurgents.
We were being watched, and [Sgt.] Carrigan knew why. ‘‘Every home we stop at, the insurgents will come by some time over the next few days, drag the men outside, threaten all, and beat some,'' he said. ‘‘They will try and find out if we were just questioning them, or are they cooperating with us?''
So what good it did do for these American troops to visit this family? It just brought them more trouble. But again, nobody asked.

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