Many Trainees Are Complicit With ‘Enemy Targets’
By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; A10
BAGHDAD — The platoon of American soldiers was pinned down in an alley outside the holiest Shiite shrine in western Baghdad’s Kadhimiyah neighborhood. Machine-gun fire sprayed from apartment windows and rooftops with a deafening clatter. The troops were 15 yards from their Humvees, but they didn’t know if they could survive the dash.
Less than a mile away, a powerful Shiite parliament member stood inside an American military base, in the office of the Iraqi army brigade commander responsible for Kadhimiyah. The Americans had called for Iraqi army backup, but according to the brigade commander and American officers, the lawmaker would help ensure that no assistance arrived from the Iraqis that crucial day.
“No Iraqi army unit, of the 2,700 Iraqi security forces that are in Kadhimiyah, no Iraqi army unit would respond,” said Lt. Col. Steven Miska, a deputy brigade commander based in this Shiite enclave of 200,000 people on the western shore of the Tigris River. “It shows you how difficult it is to root out the militia influence when they’ve got political top-cover.”
That’s a pretty hard sell to Americans–having their kids pinned under fire and help frustrated by an Iraqi parliamentarian.
I guess if he’d been ‘standing defiantly’ inside my military base, he’d have found himself standing pretty meekly in abu-Ghraib within about thirty seconds. That would no doubt have caused an uproar and cost me my military career.
Which merely points up the impossibilities of our position in Iraq. Stories like this will not stand with the American public.