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Iraqis, Afghanis Don't, as Vietnamese, Koreans Didn't, Fight Well For US Against Their Own

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See: "Company of Iraqi Troops Abandons Position After Attack" by Slobodan Lekic, Associated Press, April 18, 2008; and "Iraqi Unit Flees Post, Despite American's Plea – shades of Vietnam/Korea" by Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, April 16, 2008. Large front-page photo of an Iraqi soldier sitting on the curb, helmet and weapon on the ground.
The latter describes a U.S. officer berating an Iraqi Army company commander for retreating from an invasion of Sadr City. The Iraqi is quoted, defending his refusal to engage:
“Every house in Sadr City probably has one of their sons in the Mahdi Army, so it is hard to convince people to believe in the Iraqi Army.”  

Neither Associated Press nor New York Times article discusses battle with Al Qaeda foreigners. For weeks, there has been no news item or sound byte about fighting Al Qaeda, (one of the many reasons given for America staying in Iraq). No, the articles discuss the U.S. with its Iraqi Army attacking Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, even though al-Sadr had ordered the Mahdi Army off the streets (where it had maintained peace and order), and had kept a unilateral truce ever since forcing occupation administrator Paul Bremer to call an election (which the Shiites easily won). 

In a Time/CNN article of April 15th, Cleric Al Sadr was quoted as calling for avoiding brother-against-brother violent confrontation. Time/CNN titled the article, "Al-Sadr Tightens the Screws" Apr. 15, 2008 by Mark Kukis: 

"Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr threw down yet another challenge to the Iraqi government, demanding that policemen and soldiers Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fired for refusing to fight al-Sadr's militia be reinstated "after honoring them."
 
On Sunday, Maliki's government announced the dismissal of more than 1,300 security personnel who deserted last month when fighting broke out between Iraqi government forces and the Mahdi Army in Basra. Sadr reacted swiftly to the news by issuing a statement from the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf Monday that said those who refused to take up arms against his militia were only doing their religious duty.
 
"Our brothers in the army or police who gave up their weapons to their brothers were only obeying their grand religious leaders," declared Sadr's statement. "So I call on the official authorities to reconsider their termination order." Sadr's exact whereabouts remain unclear, though he is rumored to have recently returned to Najaf after spending the past several months undertaking intensive religious studies in Iran.” 

Put the New York Times article together with the article from Time/CNN and it appears that the 'failure' of units of the Iraqi army to fight was more of a humane, maybe even patriotic, decision made within the context of mitigating circumstances and unclear goals. 

But, never mind the facts, these Iraqi refusals to attack will be portrayed in conglomerate owned mass entertainment/news media as a failure of Iraqi courage and patriotism, or as ineptitude and insufficient training from their American instructors, or worse yet, ingratitude for all that the American occupiers ‘have done’ for Iraq. In short, commercial corporate media will make Iraqis seem hopelessly inferior as soldiers, sustaining the seeded notion that Iraq needs further occupation. 

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Ah, but how then to understand the bravery of the anti-occupation fighters? 

This is the perennial problem of empires: how to raise indigenous armies in occupied nations and get them to kill and die fighting their own countrymen for, and along side of, the occupying army of a foreign empire. 

In Korea, U.S. Army officers complained that they could not get South Korean units to fight North Korean units and usually had to do most of the fighting themselves – eventually settling for a truce with half the job done at the cost of a couple of million Korean and 37,000 Americans lives. 

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In Vietnam, U.S. Army officers could not get Southern Vietnamese units to fight well against southern insurgents and North Vietnamese who came South to help the rebellion, forcing a U.S. army of half a million, aided by naval bombardment, air force carpet bombing, and napalm to try to get the job done. The strategy ended in failure, causing the death of three million Vietnamese, 58,000 U.S. military, an acceptance of defeat and, ultimately, peaceful relations and profitable trading with that very same communist-led government. 

In Afghanistan, fewer and fewer Afghanis have the heart to fight alongside the occupying military of America and the token troops imported from other Western nations against their own Taliban, who were the Afghan government, supported by the U.S. before it invaded in 2001. 

In Iraq, an American army of occupation can't get its U.S. trained Iraqi Army (heavily Sunni), to fight fellow Iraqi Shi'ites - Americans again have to do it themselves. Incongruously, the story put out by the Pentagon is that America wants to prevent fighting between Shi'ites and Sunni (another pretext given for staying in Iraq). 

In all of these four occupation wars, there was, or still is in the case of Afghanistan and Iraq, angry unwillingness or at least lack of enthusiasm for fighting on the side of the army of occupation against their own countrymen, regardless of the amount of training, encouragement and incentives provided. It appears America has had to rely upon an exorbitant use of its air power for the recalcitrance of local armed forces it creates. 

An inordinate amount of bombing exacerbates the situation, increasing disdain, if not hate, for the occupying military's acceptance of massive collateral loss of civilian lives and property. 

Similarly, in Somalia, the open U.S. financial backing of the war lords in power did not inspire their armies to contest a nearly completed establishment of an Islamic Courts Government reportedly desired by Somali merchant and business communities. Since the U.S. financed Ethiopian Armed Forces invaded on Christmas day 2006, U.S. air strikes are periodically reported "against suspected Al Qaeda” within Islamic Courts units. Though there is less coverage than of almost daily air strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is enormous suffering in Somalia. 

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"U.S. Strikes In Somalia Reportedly Kill 31- Official Says Dead Were Civilians From Village Targeted In Hunt For Alleged Al Qaeda Suspects, CBS News Jan. 7, 2007:

“A Somali lawmaker said 31 civilians, including a newlywed couple, died in Tuesday's assault by two helicopters near Afmadow, a town in a forested area close to the Kenyan border.” 

By virtue of the almost daily Associate Press body counts in air strikes on "suspected" Sunni insurgents, Al Qaeda or Shi'ite militia in Iraq, "suspected" Taliban in Afghanistan, "suspected" Al Qaeda and Islamic Courts fighters in Somalia, with an occasional "confirmed" number of dead militants, America is perceived to be 'giving it good' to its declared enemies - irrespective of an 'acceptable' amount of civilian dead and wounded. 

Underreported are the unheeded angry and indignant pronouncements from the legislatures and even presidents of both occupied nations who demand a halt of this unacceptably high loss of civilian life from missiles and huge bombs. Yet, these pleas and denunciations come from the very governments installed under U.S. occupation.

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Jay Janson is an archival research peoples historian activist, musician and writer; has lived and worked on all continents; articles on media published in China, Italy, UK, India and the US; now resides in NYC; First effort was a series of (more...)
 

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