Rich and I share an admiration for Michael Gordon, one of three (along with Burns and Filkens) NYT reporters who really work hard to get the Iraqi story right. Michael’s story, quoted by Rich, suggests an interesting hypothesis: that many (most, even?) Iraqis preferred us to the terrorists early on, but our misguided strategy of “cleaning” an area and then moving on–and also the comfortable belief that we could quickly turn over security to the Iraqi forces, after a bit of training–was disastrous, because it left the locals to the savage reprisals of the terrorists. What else could they do but work with our (common) enemies? Now that there are more (American and Iraqi) troops, we can stay, and their preference for us can be safely expressed.
The horror of the terrorist onslaught rarely is brought home to the American public. Indeed, it is sometimes so grisly that not even American troops in the field can even talk about it without swallowing hard. Listen to Michael Yon, in his latest update from Diyala Province. This is really something:
Speaking through an American interpreter, Lieutenant David Wallach who is a native Arabic speaker, the Iraqi official related how al Qaeda united these gangs who then became absorbed into “al Qaeda.” They recruited boys born during the years 1991, 92 and 93 who were each given weapons, including pistols, a bicycle and a phone (with phone cards paid) and a salary of $100 per month, all courtesy of al Qaeda. These boys were used for kidnapping, torturing and murdering people.
At first, he said, they would only target Shia, but over time the new al Qaeda directed attacks against Sunni, and then anyone who thought differently. The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old. As LT David Wallach interpreted the man’s words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, “What did he say?” Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.
No doubt it works, terror does work. It just seems to me that anyone involved in such activity isn’t really entitled to high-priced legal defense in American courts. Guantanamo is way too good for such animals. Or have I missed something? Anybody feel like asking Andrew Sullivan?