Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Eric Umansky is really shrill. He fears that what General Petraeus and others are doing in Iraq is to train Iranian-allied Fedayeen Death Commandos:

Eric Umansky: 'Training' Iraqi Forces Won't Do It : James Fallows' opus on how the U.S. has FUBARed training Iraq's army has been rightly getting a lot of attention. But there's one thing I think it misses.... If the U.S. helps create 'capable' soldiers... loyal to, say, their own Shiite militia, is that a net positive? From Newsday....

[P]olice commandos. In combat uniforms, bulletproof vests and wrap-around sunglasses or ski masks, they muscle through Baghdad's traffic jams in police cars or camouflage-painted pickup trucks... part of the Iraqi security forces... blamed for a wave of kidnappings and executions around Baghdad since the spring. One such group, the Volcano Brigade, is operating as a death squad, under the influence or control of Iraq's most potent Shia factional militia, the Iranian-backed Badr Organization, said several Iraqi government officials and western Baghdad residents.... In the past year, the U.S. military has helped build up the commandos under guidance from James Steele, a former Army Special Forces officer who led U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in El Salvador in the 1980s. Salvadoran army units trained by Steele's team were accused of a pattern of atrocities.... The [new] Volcano Brigade was built up under the current, Shia-led government and "is mostly made of men from the Badr militia," said a Shia source close to the unit. Like most of a dozen people interviewed about the commandos, he asked not to be named for fear of being killed....

Insisting--hoping--that the U.S. can "train" Iraqi forces to drop their ethnic loyalities is strikes me as nothing more than an assumption, an assumption upon which much of the U.S.'s chance for 'success' rests.... Peter Galbraith's piece in the New York Review of Books... there is no "Iraqi" army; there are basically only units loyal to their own ethnicities...


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