As the June 30th turnover of sovereignty to an Iraqi government looms ever closer, one begins to ponder how prepared Iraqis are for leading a country devastated by war. After last week’s horrific ambush, mutilation, dragging and bridge hangings of charcoaled remains of four Americans, the answer does not seem so crystal clear.What sort of people ambush an SUV and drag the bodies through the streets (some reporters claim that one man was still half-alive before Iraqis continued to beat and trample his body)? What sort of people sever the limbs of corpses, then proceed to tie the charred remains from a bridge while beating the bodies with shoes, sticks, and poles, much like a party pi¤ata?
“Islam bans what was done to the bodies, but the Americans are as brutal as the youths who burned and mutilated the bodies,” said a 61-year-old Iraqi retiree.
U.S. Forces weren’t even in the position to move in and control the ambush because they were “afraid” (Americans…afraid!?!?) of another ambush or insurgents using civilians as human shields.
Iraqi police did nothing either; they only collected the remains at the request of American troops.
So if U.S. Forces and Iraqi police could do nothing to stop the brutality, then who’s afraid of whom? Who is running this country? Clearly, both sides aren’t prepared, or capable enough to control insurgents to the point where they’d rather let the brutality continue than move in and capture those who are committing the atrocities.
But insurgents aren’t the only enemy that U.S. troops face overseas. Religious clerics strongly oppose the U.S.-led occupation and often use sermons to criticize American authority. One cleric condemned the mutilation of the four American contractors; however, he did not condemn the actual killings.
Despite the murders, President Bush is adamant on remaining in Iraq. Why?
“The president’s credibility is on the line,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst.
The president’s credibility, apparently, is null and void for most Americans, for a recent poll showed a drastic decrease in support for the war; over half of those surveyed said the war in Iraq is not nearly worth the number of casualties since the beginning of the war last March.
This past March, according to military statistics, was the second deadliest month yet.
Many analysts compared this recent deadly incident to that of Somalia in 1993, where 18 U.S. servicemen were attacked and dragged through the streets of Mogadishu; this incident led to the eventual with-drawal of U.S. Forces from the African nation.
Obviously, it’s a little late to pull out of Iraq at this stage; if America were to leave the region, a civil war would surely ensue and Iraq would become a new haven for various terrorist groups, thus continuing the vicious cycle of violence in the Middle East.
Since Bush steered this country into this dilemma, the occupancy must be completed effectively. What must be done first, however, is for allied forces to engage in forceful disruption of these insurgents and their actions, no matter the complexity of the situation.
Iraqis won’t respect authority whether it be U.S. Forces or Iraqi police forces unless consistent pressure is put on insurgents to let them see that Americans aren’t giving up this time.
Erin Joyce is a senior majoring in communication.