31 January 2007

So sophisticated ...

There have been some rumblings in the press that the Jan. 20 attack on the Karbala compound, in which Iraqi insurgents dressed in American military fatigues and driving SUVs were able to penetrate the compound’s security, was actually the work of Iranian or Iranian-trained operatives.

The reason? Well, the attack was so “sophisticated.”

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Pentagon is investigating whether a recent attack on a military compound in Karbala was carried out by Iranians or Iranian-trained operatives, two officials from separate U.S. government agencies said.

“People are looking at it seriously,” one of the officials said.

That official added the Iranian connection was a leading theory in the investigation into the January 20 attack that killed five soldiers.

The second official said: “We believe it's possible the executors of the attack were Iranian or Iranian-trained”

Five U.S. soldiers were abducted and killed in the sophisticated attack by men wearing U.S.-style uniforms, according to U.S. military reports.

Both officials stressed the Iranian-involvement theory is a preliminary view, and there is no final conclusion. They agreed this possibility is being looked at because of the sophistication of the attack and the level of coordination.

“This was beyond what we have seen militias or foreign fighters do,” the second official said.

As an excuse to start a war with Iran, this one sucks. Here’s why:

Imagine you’re an Iraqi insurgent or militia member. You want to attack and kill American forces inside a compound. Hmm. What might make that easier to do and give you a decent chance of succeeding?

Ahhh! Disguise yourself as an American soldier!

It just might work – it could get you through the guards, if you’re very cool about it. All you need is an American military uniform, a few SUVs and a little practice with English. If it doesn’t work and you get killed trying, well, that’s war. And even if it doesn’t, you’re going to give the enemy nightmares with the very idea that you’d try it.

So you sit down and talk to your superiors, work out whether or not this can be done.

“American uniforms?” they say. “Not easy, but sure, can do. We’ll put some pressure on Ahmed – he’s a traitor. He works in the base uniform shop in the Green Zone, but we figured he might come in handy some day. We’ll threaten his wife and children. That should work. How many uniforms do you want? What sizes do you need?”

“SUVs that look like American vehicles? A little harder, but yes, this can be done.”

It takes some planning, for sure. There are lots of small details to work out. But this attack is important, so it’s worth the time and effort.

You get the uniforms, you get the vehicles, and the day for the attack comes. You carry it out.

It works. You kill one American during the attack, kidnap four others, steal the laptop computer they were using for their meeting, and take off. Just before you abandon the SUVs, you kill the kidnapped Americans – using them as hostages was a bad idea after all. You and your compatriots strip off the American uniforms right there – you were wearing jeans and t-shirts under them -- and blend into the local populace, leaving the bodies and the vehicles behind.

As a terrorist attack, this is very effective. It frightens and undermines your enemy – his ability to identify his enemies becomes even harder. Not only does he have to try, under extremely dicey circumstances, to distinguish insurgents and militia members from the general civilian populace, now they might even be wearing his own uniform!

Tactic: Induce fear. Mission accomplished.

Now, there’s nothing special about my brain. I’m not any smarter than most people, but I’m not dumb, either. I know that clandestine operatives and soldiers have used tactics like this for centuries. It’s nothing new, this dressing up like the enemy in order to penetrate his security. The Iraqis may have a different culture from ours, but they’re a smart, modern and sophisticated people.

So why is the Bush administration (and the CIA) spinning this simple, we’ve-seen-this-technique-a-million-times-in-the-movies clandestine attack by Iraqi insurgents as so “advanced” and “sophisticated” that it could only be those wily, wicked Iranians who came up with it?

Do these reports expressing amazement and pointing fingers mean that the American forces never anticipated this sort of tactic from people we attacked without provocation?

If I were an Iraqi insurgent, I’d be deeply insulted. What, does he think I’m not smart enough to think this up? He thinks I’m an uneducated rube? He thinks that I’ve never read a book or seen a movie? That because I’m Iraqi, I’ve never done anything but herd goats? Does he think that just because my religion requires that I kneel on a prayer mat facing Mecca I don’t have a brain in my head?

Hmm. That must be what he thinks.

As an insurgent, I’d laugh, long and loud. Because honestly, who’s the real rube here?

As an American who has never supported this war, who wants American troops brought home immediately and who sure as hell doesn’t want her country to start yet another baseless war of opportunity, this time with Iran, I’m insulted that my government would even try to get me to take this bait.

I guess the Bush administration thinks I’m a rube, too.


robin andrea said...

When I heard this theory it drove me crazy. Just the fact that they put it out into the news cycle makes it part of the warn's narrative. This administration will stop at nothing. Why do we want a war with Iran?

robin andrea said...

whoops, that's supposed to "war's narrative."

Wil Robinson said...

If we listen to the administration's rhetoric (loyally repeated ad nauseum by the media), you'd think it's only Iranians killing Americans in Iraq.

But I guess you've got to start laying the groundwork to justify another war...

I heard one commentator on PBS Newshour point out that most American casualties are caused by Sunni insurgents - whether they be Iraqis or Al Qaeda - and that the Shia are primarily only killing Sunni Iraqis in terrorist carbombings, etc. It would seem that Bush's excuse that "he will protect American troops from any Iranian interference" kind of falls apart if Iranians aren't killing American troops, but only Sunnis.

What a mess.