Friday, February 17, 2006

[politics] So which is it...

Sgt. Cortez Powell in Samarra - Copyright Tom Lasseter/KRT ...Thomas E. Ricks' glowing report in the Washington Post about the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tall Afar:
When the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment moved into northwest Iraq last May, it faced a mess. Just as Fallujah had become a major staging point for attacks into Baghdad, Tall Afar was being used as a base to send suicide bombers and other attackers 40 miles east into Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq. Instead of staging a major raid into the city for suspects and then moving back to operating bases, McMaster said he took a sharply different tack, spending months making preparatory moves before attacking the entrenched insurgents in Tall Afar. That indirect approach demonstrated tactical patience, a key to effectively battling an insurgency and a skill that doesn't come easily to the U.S. military.
...or Tom Lasseter's substantially bleaker report from Knight Ridder's Washington Bureau about the 101st Airborne in Samarra:
Fifteen months earlier, when the 1st Infantry Division sent some 5,000 Iraqi and U.S. soldiers to retake Samarra from Sunni Muslim insurgents, it was a test of the American occupation's ability not only to pacify but also to rebuild a part of Iraq dominated by the country's minority Sunnis. More than a year later, American troops still are battling insurgents in Samarra. Bloodshed is destroying the city and driving a wedge between the Iraqis who live there and the U.S. troops who are trying to keep order. Violence, police corruption and the blurry lines of guerrilla warfare are clouding any hopes of victory. "It's apocalyptic out there. Life has definitely gotten worse for" Iraqis, said Maj. Curtis Strange, 36, of Mobile, Ala., who works with Iraqi troops in Samarra. "You see Samarra and you almost want to build a new city and move all these people there."
The articles make for an interesting (and depressing) contrast - same tactics, different environments, wildly divergent results. I fear that overall things throughout Iraq are much more like Samarra than Tall Afar... To my way of thinking, KR's Washington Bureau has a much more credible track record on reporting the situation in Iraq than the WaPo - since the beginning, they've been one of the only openly skeptical news organizations in DC, asking the questions that no one else was willing to.

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