Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Nation-Building in Haifa Street

Today The New York Times carries a piece about the recent ebb in insurgency attacks in one of the Ba'ath strongholds in Baghdad. It describes the approach taken by the local US forces.

"A year ago, the American cavalry division took a major risk in shifting to foot patrols from drive-throughs in Bradley armored troop carriers. The change took its toll: the division's Haifa Street force lost five soldiers, and 25 were seriously wounded, the core of a wider group of injured men who received those Purple Hearts. But the unit estimates that it killed 100 to 200 enemy fighters, and the yield in intelligence was rich. It kind of underscores that if you want to befriend the local population, you are putting your own troops at risk - an unpleasant paradox in low casualty societies:

With the foot patrols, the Americans made friends in the Shiite communities, particularly in Showaka, a poor area where back streets are dotted with carved, Ottoman-era balconies. Ties improved with a special $2 million reconstruction program - part of the wider reconstruction in the district - that has brought 12,500 Showaka families their first indoor toilets, buried sewage pipes and modernized the electricity grid. Gone, for these people, are the centuries when sewage ran down open channels in the alleys into the Tigris."


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