US destroys Houses
According to Jeff Wilkinson of Knight Ridder, the US military in its most recent shock and awe campaign has destroyed fifteen houses in and around Tikrit, which it said were used by guerrillas to plan attacks on Americans.
Alas, it is unlikely that the houses were only inhabited by guerrillas. I saw on Nightline an old woman complaining that she had been left homeless by the destruction of one of the houses. Destroying those houses was a form of collective punishment, which is strictly forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. I support our troops, but they ought not to be ordered by their officers to do things that are illegal.
Shock and awe does not work. Period. No enemy army has ever been cowed by mere firepower alone. Especially in a guerrilla war, what counts is getting people on your side. If you try to scare them (i.e. terrorize them) into cooperating, you will only alienate them. I remember seeing footage in Vietnam of carpet bombing. And then after it was over, the Viet Cong just got out of their tunnels and resurfaced. All that bombing in Afghanistan a couple of years ago did not destroy the Taliban or al-Qaeda, either.
That people in Iraq are now comparing US tactics to those of Sharon on the West Bank is truly scarey. Occupation is an ugy word in the Arab world, but Sharon’s kind of occupation is evil itself. That comparison should not be what we are going for.
I conclude that the Army had developed a feud with Tikrit. Whenever feuding blinds commanders to the bigger mission, it ends in disaster for the occupying authorities. They really should rethink this thing.