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Surge and Disperse
Insurgency Goes Suburban

What does it say about President Bush's authority among the military when the Pentagon no longer hides its contempt for its so-called commander-in-chief—and advertises that contempt through Stars & Stripes, the Pentagon's mouthpiece and daily newspaper? Thursday marked the official beginning of the "surge" in Baghdad. The same day, Stars & Stripes had this to say about Bush:

President Bush’s plan to add 21,500 troops to Iraq — 17,500 in Baghdad and 4,000 in western Anbar province — complicates the situation in the Madaein district, according to intelligence officers. With military forces, both U.S. and Iraqi, focused on getting Shiite militias under control in Baghdad, the militias are looking for other strongholds where it’s easier to operate. The Madaein district, particularly Salman Pak, is a natural place for such a shift, the officers said. The influx of Shiite militias, in turn, attracts more Sunni insurgents, who want their own control of the district, the officers said.

Every police chief in the United States has had the same experience with drug dealers, the homeless, prostitutes. The more cops harass them all by shuttling them off site, and out of sight, the more they surge somewhere else. Who could not have foreseen the same insurgent strategy in Iraq? “The 3-61,” the story goes on, referring to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, “is responsible for the area outside of Baghdad known as Madaein, which is something like a county. The squadron’s area of operations is huge: about 1,000 square kilometers, with a population of more than 845,000 Iraqis, according to Maj. Bruce Vitor, 35, executive officer for the 3-61.” The entire 2nd Infantry numbers 15,000 soldiers. A regiment generally has 2,000 soldiers. Insurgents must be shaking with laughter in their boots. They can relocate. Meanwhile the "surge" carries on: A fifth U.S. military copter was shot down in two weeks. The military is explaining it as a change in tactics on the part of the insurgency. An adjustment. Not so. What the Pentagon doesn't want to admit is that new weaponry is being introduced in Iraq. It's always been a matter of time: the moment insurgents were able to go after aircraft more effectively is the moment when they'd have got their hands on more advanced equipment, suggesting that a more significant arms pipeline into Iraq has opened. The Saudis and Iranians are battling their proxy war in Iraq, each arming its proxy army with weaponry. It may also be a matter of time until we discover (if it hasn't been discovered yet, and supressed) that the weaponry downing American aircraft is American—not because American soldiers are firing at their own, to be sure, but because the weaponry that's been dished out for the last three years, and the weaponry the Saudis have at the ready (and the Pakistanis, and the Jordanians, all of whom dread a Shiite take-over) has to go somewhere. We're finding out where. But the surge, thank heavens, carries on.

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