Sunni civilians have no interest in backing a new insurgency after their own bitter experience – and they no longer feel targeted by Shiite militias.
The occasional al Qa’eda suicide attack can still kill masses of innocent civilians, but it has no strategic impact; in fact it is difficult to understand what motivates such attacks today, since their effect is almost nil.
But what are we doing in the Korengal Valley? Does anyone know? Are we just trying to control the terrain or what?
In a matter of minutes, the ambush changed the experience of the surviving soldiers’ tours. The degree of turnabout surprised even some the soldiers who participated.
“It’s the first time most of us have even seen the guys who were shooting at us,” said Sgt. Thomas Horvath, 21.
The next day, elders from the valley would ask permission to collect the villages’ dead. Company B’s commander, Capt. James C. Howell, would grant it.
But already, as the soldiers slid and climbed down the mountain, word of the insurgents’ defeat was traveling through Taliban networks.
Specialist Robert C. Oxman, 21, had put a dead fighter’s phone in his pocket. As the platoon descended, the phone rang and rang, apparently as other fighters called to find out what had happened on Sautalu Sar. By sunrise, it had been ringing for hours.
In February, I attended a talk Ricks gave at the Carnegie Council in New York, and I asked him if his heavy reliance on military sources had affected his account. "Absolutely," he said. "I cover the US military. I don't cover Iraq as such. At The Washington Post, I have colleagues who do that much better than I ever could -- Anthony Shadid, for example, who wrote the terrific book Night Draws Near." The Gamble, Ricks went on, "is very much a view of the Iraq War through the eyes of the US military."In that exchange -- and in conversations I have had with him -- Ricks has been open about the limits of his book. A month or so ago, I spent about an hour talking to Massing about The Gamble, the war in Iraq, and counterinsurgency theory. I told Massing that while I greatly enjoyed The Gamble, there were a lot of good books on the Surge remaining to be written. Namely (and this is just off the top of my head):
It is soooo quiet outside. When I ask about the reason, they say “It’s a residential area.” I quietly respond, “What’s your point?”An Iraqi translator for the New York Times writes about arriving in the United States as a refugee.
Barnes and Noble
2800 Clarendon Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201
Call ahead to reserve a copy: (703) 248-8244 [we've sold out at most events]
Drinks afterward at the Liberty Tavern from ~8:30 or so.
Two chapter excerpts, the Daily Show video, etc are at http://www.craigmmullaney.com
After months of promises, only 5,000 Awakening members — just over 5 percent — have been given permanent jobs in the Iraqi security forces. Those promises were made last year when Iraq was flush with oil money.
Now with Iraq’s budget battered by falling oil prices, the government is having trouble paying existing employees, much less bringing in Sunni gunmen already regarded with suspicion by the Shiite-led government.
In interviews with leaders from a dozen local Awakening Councils, nearly all complained that full-time jobs were lacking, that pay was in arrears and that members were being arrested despite promises of amnesty.Perhaps most ominously, many expressed concern this might drive some followers back to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a largely Iraqi group with some foreign leadership, at a time when both Iraqi and American military commanders say that the group seems to be making gains, small but worrisome, around Baghdad.