Saturday, October 23, 2004

Truly Fertile Land

In an article on BBC online, reporter Hugh Sykes focuses on the differences between the American and British approach to the war. There is a clear bias in the article, one which I would be more frustrated with if it did not follow my own line of thinking.

"But I believe this is a vicious circle of their own making, that much of the hatred of the Americans that is now violently expressed was provoked by their ignorant disrespect of decent people.
. . .
Many of us reported at the time that there seemed to be no plan for the peace, that the occupying forces appeared to be out of control.

Retired American General Jay Garner, the first civilian administrator in post-war Iraq, says this was true.

He told the New York Times this month that the Bush administration did not 'have their heads in the post-war game.'
. . .
An Iraqi engineer told me this week: 'The Americans have made this land truly fertile for terrorism.'"
I have no doubt that this is all true; but it does seem disingenuous to compare these facts with the British approach to the Iraqis. The Americans are steering this war and the British are not in quite the same position. I am not arguing with the criticism of the American approach, just the comparison Sykes attempts.
"[British] Brigadier Andrew Kennet believes that "softly, softly" pays off.

He told me 'I did not raze Basra to the ground, but I could have done.'

And he says he received a delegation of local people thanking him for targeting the insurgents and not punishing the whole population."
All in all, the article is a bit weak (originally broadcast on radio) and ends on a sentimental note (with mention of Sept. 11). Still, it supports the basic premise that American mistakes in the war did, in fact, create more problems. Whether it created more problems than it is solving.... well, you all know where I stand on that issue.