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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The turkey timer in Iraq

Like that weird little device on a turkey that pops out when it's done, this story stands out to me. (Stars and Stripes)
BAGHDAD — U.S. operations around Sadr City met with increased resistance this weekend, as soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team continued clearing operations in the poor, restive neighborhoods around the Shiite mega-slum.

But rather than resist with bullets and bombs, residents took a decidedly grass-roots approach, hurling rocks and shouting obscenities.

The movement’s unlikely foot soldiers, a rowdy band of little boys and adolescents, slung insults and rocks with impunity as adult Iraqi soldiers and policemen stood by and watched.

Early Friday afternoon, one group of Strykers was “ambushed” by a group of about 30 rock-throwing boys and teens, who set up an impromptu roadblock to stop the vehicles. No one was seriously hurt in the incident, which occurred at the edge of Sadr City, but soldiers were visibly taken aback by the degree of sophistication. .....

The day’s events put a definite strain on relations between American and Iraqi security forces, whose joint participation in the clearing operation is called Operation Together Forward.

“You’ve got rocks being thrown at us and your men aren’t doing a thing about it,” Maj. Michael Fazio, operations officer for the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, yelled at a shocked Iraqi army captain on Friday morning.......

“You’ve got to stop these kids throwing rocks over here,” he said. “Someone’s going to die.”

“It’s not my responsibility,” retorted a police officer.....

Around Sadr City, which houses up to 3 million Shiites, military officials say anti-American propaganda has popped up on walls in recent days, telling soldiers from the Fort Wainwright, Alaska-based brigade to “go back to Alaska on a mule.”

(Sorry for the long excerpt.)

6 Comments:

  • Have you read the Sling and the Stone by Hames? He (Marine Colonel) argues that the rock-throwing nature of the first intifadah made it a 4th Generational Warfare success.

    By Blogger copy editor, at 11:44 PM  

  • I guess there were no flowers nearby for the kids to toss.

    You're right - this is, or should be, a glaring warning signal. So much for Operation Together Forward.

    And they're going to make things worse by using "non-lethal" rubber bullets against these kids. A young woman was killed in Boston a couple of years ago by a rubber bullet, after the Red Sox won the world series. Shooting anything at these kids is a major mistake.

    By Blogger abi, at 10:36 AM  

  • Copy, no, I haven't read it, but that's interesting, though.

    I've often been fascinated by the assymetrical nature of rock throwing, because at first glance, it seems fruitless and futile against an armed enemy, but if the major forces respond with fire, they are immediately on the wrong side of the PR. And using children makes it even more effective.

    It's a small weapon, but can be used more or less with impunity, and in the PR battle it's huge.

    It's a visual image of resistance, of David v Goliath.

    Abi, How much of a wedge does this drive between the main stryker brigade in Baghdad and the Iraqi foces?

    Also, this was probably coordinated (" the degree of sophistication".) It is designed to elicit an overviolent response thus inflaming anti-US passions.

    If you're the US how do you handle this?

    (And that's pretty funny about the flowers.)

    Mike

    Mike

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 11:21 AM  

  • I don't know if these rock-throwing incidents have driven a wedge between US and Iraqi soldiers. The fact that Iraqi soldiers and police stood by and did nothing is more a sign of the wedge that already exists between them. But if US soldiers start shooting at these kids, that will widen the rift considerably.

    I can't answer your question because I can't imagine myself in the position of the US soldiers there. We've been destroying Iraq for over 15 years. I can't blame these kids for reacting that way.

    The David and Goliath image is exactly right. I think the same thing when I see pics of Palestinian kids stoning Israeli soldiers.

    By Blogger abi, at 2:35 PM  

  • Good point, probably should've said reflected a division between the US and Iraqis.

    Palestine is where this tactic really took off in the first intifada. It's sort of a violent corruption of the mechanism used by gandhi.

    Provoke a disproportionate response and win the war on the politics.

    Mike

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 3:17 PM  

  • i do not find any thing about the rock throwing incident amusing.. that is my brother Michael and I love and miss him so much. he has two beautiful children and a beloved wife who want him to return home safely! God Bless America!

    By Anonymous nas, at 8:30 PM  

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