3 US soldiers Dead in Iraq, Bodies Looted
Two US soldiers driving through Mosul were attacked and driven off the road, crashing their vehicle. Either their assailants or crowds of angry youths who gathered slit their throats. Then crowds gathered to loot their bodies and vehicle (which they tried to set on fire), shouting angry slogans. Later reports speak of the soldiers being dragged out of their vehicle and pummeled with concrete blocks. People of Mosul have been upset by recent US military actions in the area. In Baquba, another US soldier was killed by a roadside bomb.
The army is investigating why the vehicle was not in a convoy, but rather traveling alone, according to the NYT.
I know US servicemen in the North, and my gut always wrenches when I hear a story like this, since I am afraid it will be a friend that was killed. But putting those feelings aside for a moment, I just do have to remark that this incident is an alarming indication that the US is losing the battle for hearts and minds. Mosul is not in the Sunni Arab triangle where hostility has run high, though it does have a substantial Arab population, and a long-lived Muslim Brotherhood branch. But my impression from earlier reports was that progress had been made. I guess you can win hearts and minds or you can pound an Iron Hammer, but it is tough to do both.
Wolfowitz argued that the Sunni Arab nationalists who are fighting against the US lack the two ingredients for guerrilla success, popular sympathy and foreign support. This is true only if you see the Iraqi public as monochrome. What percentage of the Sunni Arab population supports the guerrillas? That is the question. (Obviously some proportion of the Mosul Arabs do.) The guerrillas are more like the Communists in British Malaya, who had support from some of the Chinese minority, but not from the Malays. This is not the same as lacking popular support. As for foreign assistance, that does seem unlikely from states; but non-state foreign support is possible.