“Yesterday, we delivered over 1,700 humanitarian assistance meals through their fire station and district council and 50 power generators to the Adhamiya District Council for distribution.”
Colonel Thomas Vail was reporting on some of the work being done by his troops in collaboration with the Iraqi military and police forces. Operation Together Forward is a joint operation, but it is “Iraqi-controlled and Iraqi-led.”
The United States troops participating in this particular operation appear to be largely engaged in a nation-building exercise that is premature. It is paradoxical that the US opened a pandora’s box of instability within the nation and no longer has the tools, expertise or commitment to close that box. They still, however, have the budget: around $4 billion per month. While Colonel Vail states his troops cleared the streets of “murderers, kidnappers and terrorists” (in that order) I can’t help wondering how any Congressional representative who supported (and continues to support) this naked aggression deserves to remain in office. Of course, if you’re a representative from a state where soldiers aren’t doing too much dying (like Colorado) and you’re getting tons of defense money (like Colorado), then I suppose I understand. After all, green is more important than red – especially when it’s someone else’s red.
Another interesting development has been that accidents and diseases appear to have caused the evacuation of more US troops than enemy fire. At the beginning of the year, estimates were that 16,000+ soldiers were wounded by enemy fire, but more than 18,000 were removed from action from non-combat injuries and disease.
In December of 2004 alone, 1,474 troops were evacuated from Iraq due to disease. This story didn’t make the headlines in the US. This business of war is not as glamorous as folks would have us believe. Nor does this enemy appear to be much more dangerous than the incompetence of America’s own fighters and the pernicious bites of pesky desert insects.
The US public is paying nearly $4 billion per month to subsidize a “war” effort in which more soldiers find their way home from infectious bites (and often communicable diseases which have not been diagnosed by American doctors). $4 billion per month to ostensibly protect people while collaborating with Iraqi policemen who are dying at a rate of 90 per month (according to the UN). $4 billion a month for an Iraqi-led and Iraqi-dead operation to deliver food. $4 billion a month to continue phat payments to firms like BlackWater.