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The "Americanization" of the Iraq Conflict

McClatchy is reporting some very disturbing news:

WASHINGTON - Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.
But evidence has been building for months that training Iraqi troops is no longer the focus of U.S. policy. Pentagon officials said they know of no new training resources that have been included in U.S. plans to dispatch 28,000 additional troops to Iraq. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to discuss the policy shift publicly. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made no public mention of training Iraqi troops on Thursday during a visit to Iraq.

The reasons for this shift should be very clear to every observer of the situation in Iraq. As we have trained more Iraqi military and police and placed them in the field the security situation, rather than improving, has continued to steadily deteriorate. The problem with the Iraqi military and police arises from the fact that their primary loyalties lie with their associated sect, tribe or militia and not with the national Iraqi government. By training and arming these people we have in fact increased, not decreased, the probability and potential for sectarian strife as the McClatchy article further explains:

Most important, insurgents and militiamen had infiltrated the forces, using their power to carry out sectarian attacks. In nearly every area where Iraqi forces were given control, the security situation rapidly deteriorated. The exceptions were areas dominated largely by one sect and policed by members of that sect. In the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, which Bush celebrated last year as an example of success, suspected Sunni Muslim insurgents set off a bomb last month that killed as many as 150 people, the largest single bombing attack of the war. Shiite Muslim mobs, including some police officers, pulled Sunnis from their homes and executed dozens afterward. U.S. troops were dispatched to restore order. Earlier this month, U.S. forces engaged in heavy fighting in the southern city of Diwaniyah after Iraqi forces, who'd been given control of the region in January 2006, lost control of the city.

In contrast to Vietnam, where we worked steadily to "Vietnamize" the conflict, in Iraq it's clear that we are working to "Americanize" the conflict as rapidly as possible. American soldiers are replacing Iraqi police and military on the streets of Baghdad in an effort to reassure that city's beleaguered population and break the cycle of violence. No stretch of the imagination can call this type of strategy a "surge". This strategy can only be called "Americanization". It represents a misguided and last-ditch desperate attempt to prevent the full-scale civil war that Iraq continues to careen toward day after bloody day.

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