Michael's Dispatches

Precarious Road

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Precarious Road

Vital Supplies Travel Along an Uncertain Road

When I first alerted the public about the growing civil war in Iraq back in February 2005, those cautions were dismissed or ignored. Yet in all the time since, the fire has been growing in Iraq, while people here quibble over the pros and cons of using terms such as “sectarian violence” versus “civil war.” Painfully silly. It’s as if firefighters rushed to a conflagration and instead of recognizing it for what it is, fighting it for what it is, calling it what is, instead of unrolling hoses, the firefighters instead began arguing over radios and loudspeakers about whether to call the fire a conflagration or an inferno. And while they argued, people were burning to death, and the blaze was spreading, and firefighters were being surrounded.

Despite incredible progress in Iraq, we are now in great peril of losing the war entirely. At the current rate, we will witness genocide as a nation rips itself apart along sectarian seams.

In What if Shia turn against US? Joe Galloway writes:

The lifeline for American forces in Iraq is a 400-plus-mile main supply route that runs from Kuwait through Shia-dominated and Iranian-infiltrated southern Iraq to Baghdad and points north and west… Along that route, trucks and tankers driven by third-country nationals—Turks, Pakistanis and others—haul 95 percent of the beans and bullets for our troops and 100 percent of the fuel that our tanks and Bradleys and Humvees gulp at staggering rates.

For the past year I have steadily been warning that if we do not act now Iraq’s smoldering civil war could burn out of control. Recently, even the Army Public Affairs Office seems to recognize this. Although many commanders have asked that I return to Iraq and report on their efforts and progress, PAO Officers such as LTC Barry Johnson in Baghdad have turned down my embed requests.

It bears repeating, despite the incredible progress that has been made in Iraq; we are in great peril of losing the war entirely. Having seen and reported on how it doesn’t have to end this way, because there are units and leaders in our military who know how to succeed in Iraq, who have won the peace for communities once considered as dangerous as Baghdad, I have always maintained a hope of the eventual success of the mission citing conditions on the ground as justification. Unfortunately, given what we have for information sources, now may have passed. Now could be yesterday, or last month, or even last year. Now it may be too late. But I can’t say that for certain because the PAO in Baghdad is censoring. I have contacted Central Command—who is conducting the war in Iraq—to ask if this censorship is merely the policy of one Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson in Baghdad, or if he is speaking for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, because he is acting as the gatekeeper for all of them.



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