9 December 2003

Will the counter-insurgency plan in Iraq repeat the mistakes of Vietnam?

One step the Pentagon took was to seek active and secret help in the war against the Iraqi insurgency from Israel, America's closest ally in the Middle East. According to American and Israeli military and intelligence officials, Israeli commandos and intelligence units have been working closely with their American counterparts at the Special Forces training base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Israel to help them prepare for operations in Iraq. Israeli commandos are expected to serve as ad-hoc advisers - again, in secret - when full-field operations begin. (Neither the Pentagon nor Israeli diplomats would comment. 'No one wants to talk about this,' an Israeli official told me. 'It's incendiary. Both governments have decided at the highest level that it is in their interests to keep a low profile on U.S.-Israeli co�peration - on Iraq.) The critical issue, American and Israeli officials agree, is intelligence. There is much debate about whether targeting a large number of individuals is a practical - or politically effective - way to bring about stability in Iraq, especially given the frequent failure of American forces to obtain consistent and reliable information there.

This is crass stupidity of the highest order. Israel's record as an occupying power is not especially stellar, even at the level of merely securing the Occupied Territories. The real idiocy, though, is imagining that this is not something the Muslim world will hear about. And what price on any Iraqi cooperating at all once they learn that Gaza on the Tigris is not just a metaphor?

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