9 Americans Killed In And Around

9 Americans Killed in and around Fallujah; Bodies Desecrated

The amount of violence against Americans on Wednesday was remarkable, with 5 US soldiers killed by a roadside bomb and four civilian security men killed in Fallujah. But what was really striking was the quality of the violence.

An angry crowd dragged the bodies of the dead security men from their gutted vehicle and spent energy and time to inflict various indignities on the corpses, beating them, tying some of them up under a bridge over the Euphrates, and then dragging them behind cars.

Although we are calling them security, the four American civilians killed were very likely ex-US military, most probably from special operations units like the Navy Seals. The special ops units have been losing men to the private security firms, who pay between $100,000 a year and $200,000 a year, rather more than do the US armed services. And, it seems to me likely that the people in Fallujah knew that they had hold of US military men.

What would drive the crowd to this barbaric behavior? It is not that they are pro-Saddam any more, or that they hate “freedom.” They are using a theater of the macabre to protest their occupation and humiliation by foreign armies. They were engaging in a role reversal, with the American cadavers in the position of the “helpless” and the “humiliated,” and with themselves playing the role of the powerful monster that inscribes its will on these bodies.

This degree of hatred for the new order among ordinary people is very bad news. It helps explain why so few of the Sunni Arab guerrillas have been caught, since the locals hide and help them. It also seems a little unlikely that further US military action can do anything practical to put down this insurgency; most actions it could take would simply inflame the public against them all the more.

It seems likely to me that the guerrilla violence will continue for years, since it has a firm class base in the Sunni Arab rentiers who had benefitted from Sunni dominance in the Baath, and to whom the best jobs, infrastructure and most power had been thrown. They are not going to be quietly reduced to a small powerless and much less wealthy minority.

The only hope is political. The Sunni Arabs have to be convinced that they are not playing a zero-sum game. A zero-sum game is one where there is only one pie, and it always stays the same size. In a zero-sum game, if your rivals get a bigger piece of the pie, then your piece will inevitably shrink.

But politics does not have to be a zero-sum game. The Iraqi economy has the potential to expand greatly. So the pie won’t stay the same size, and Shiites could get richer without robbing the Sunni Arabs. Likewise, in a parliamentary system, the Sunni Arabs could make coalitions with Kurds and moderate Shiites in such a way as to be a key player and to retain a great deal of political power and to forestall the radical Shiites from taking over. A minority can leverage its power by being a swing vote.

Unless the Sunni Arabs are drawn into parliamentary politics and convinced that the new game is not a zero-sum game, the bombs will continue to go off.

AFP adds:

‘ In Baaquba, north of Baghdad, four policemen and six civilians were wounded in a car bomb explosion that shook residents awake early Wednesday, police said.

In the northern city of Mosul, mortar fire targeted a US military base during the night, according to an officer of the Iraqi Civil Defence Corps (ICDC) paramilitary forces.

There was no confirmation from the US military.

And in the central Shiite holy city of Najaf, about 200 students demonstrated outside city hall to protest recent police “repressive acts”.

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