Sunday, 16 January 2011

Iraq Attacks Leave Three U.S. Soldiers Dead

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US soldier in IraqAccording to President Barack Obama, combat in Iraq involving U.S. troops ended on August 31. Four-and-a-half months later, American soldiers are still dying in the sands of Mesopotamia. The Wall Street Journal reports that two separate January 15 attacks in Iraq left three U.S. soldiers dead.

The first attack took place at Forward Operating Base in Mosul, according to the Associated Press. U.S. soldiers and Iraqi security forces were conducting a training exercise, described by the AP as “a final drill to showcase U.S. efforts to train Iraqi forces before a Monday visit by top U.S. and Iraqi generals.” Specifically, “the exercise was designed to train security forces how to launch attacks and capture suspects,” an Iraqi military official told the AP.

One member of the Iraqi security forces had learned his lessons all too well: He launched an attack on his erstwhile American allies. However, he overlooked the part about capturing people and instead opened fire on his trainers, killing two U.S. soldiers and wounding a third. Col. Barry A. Johnson, spokesman for the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said that the attacker was himself shot and killed.

The U.S. military has confirmed that a third U.S. soldier was killed in an attack in central Iraq while “conducting operations” but has not yet released further information on that incident.

Meanwhile, Iranian news service Press TV reports that two bombings in Baghdad claimed the lives of two Iraqi policemen and wounded six other people. One suspects that Iraqis and American soldiers in Iraq would both take issue with Obama’s assertion that combat is over.

The Mosul incident is a stark reminder of the difficulty of determining friend or foe in a foreign country with an alien language and culture — a problem that has plagued U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This is, as both the Journal and the AP point out, at least the fourth incident of its kind in Iraq since late 2008. In addition, six U.S. servicemen were killed last November when an Afghan border policeman took the occasion of a training mission to fire on them.

Both the United States and Iraq “have been eager to highlight Iraq’s security forces before U.S. troops leave the county [sic] at the end of the year after eight years of war,” the AP explains. One doubts that this is the way in which those governments wished to bring the Iraqi security forces to the world’s attention.

Just the same, it could play into the hands of those who want to see U.S. forces remain in Iraq indefinitely, not least of whom are the members of the Council on Foreign Relations. The Obama administration, rife with CFR members, clearly does not want simply to let Iraq go its own way. The State Department, for example, is building its own army to continue to have a U.S. presence in Iraq after troops are withdrawn; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is married to a famous CFR member. And just this past week Vice President Joe Biden, who is very chummy with the CFR, said that after the end of this year, the U.S. government “will probably be in the position of still maintaining and giving support. We will probably be in the position of still, in certain, specific areas, having to train and equip [Iraqi security forces].”

On the other hand, the realization that U.S. troops are in mortal danger as long as they stay in Iraq (and Afghanistan) and that the task of nation-building is a futile one indeed may just convince enough Americans — and their leaders who are not besotted with the interventionist consensus — that it’s time to bring the troops home and mind our own business.

Photo of U.S. soldier in Iraq: AP Images

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