Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Reprisal?

Juan Cole reminds us why killing insurgents doesn't work:

US observers keep expressing puzzlement as to why the killing of hundreds or thousands of insurgents has not had an impact in repressing the guerrillas. They don't seem to get it that Iraqi clans still matter and that when they kill an Iraqi, they anger the man's brothers, uncles, and first and second cousins, some of whom step forward to take his place. In the US a lot of people don't even know their cousins and certainly would not sacrifice their lives to avenge one. Iraq is not like that. So, it isn't really even a matter of ideologies, necessarily. The US military has incurred enough clan feuds to keep the insurgencies going. And, of course, Iraqi and Arab nationalisms are powerful enough that people hate seeing Western troops in their country. The line between being angry about it and being angry enough to pick up a gun is a thin one.


So if they will pick up a gun to avenge their menfolk, what will they do once enough of them know that their women and children have been tortured?

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