US Releases Enemy Casualty Estimate of 100
The US military is conducting a major operation around Ubaidi, near Qaim on the border with Syria. The operation near the Euphrates was aimed at foreign jihadi bases.
The Marines are reportedly surprised by the degree of preparation the guerrillas are showing. They also seem to have specialized knowledge of how best to fight the Americans. (This datum suggests that someone in the Iraqi army or government let them know the US was coming. Everyone knows that the police, national guards and security apparatuses are extensively infiltrated by the guerrilla resistance).
The remarkable thing about the operation was the claim by the US to have killed 100 guerrillas, a new move in the propaganda wars. The US military had been deliberately avoiding announcements of numbers of guerrillas killed. But this strategy, which comes from the scandals about over-estimates of Viet Cong killed in the Vietnam War, had left the guerrillas free to generate headlines such as “300 killed in bombings during the past week.” Nothing the US had done could compete with that sort of number, which I believe explains why we now get a number. The problem with giving out such numbers, however, is that sooner or later there will be another scandal.
For instance, are all 100 (a suspiciously round number) really guerrillas? Or are some innocent civilians who got caught in the crossfire? How would you tell, if all you have is a dead 16-year-old male body?
The other problem with this operation is that it may raise false hopes. Probably less than ten percent of the guerrillas are foreign fighters, so even if the US could weaken their Qaim-area bases substantially, it would not stop most of the attacks. And, the Syrian-Iraqi border is so long and rugged that the foreign infiltrators will just develop new routes. One remembers the conviction that if only Fallujah could be reduced, the bombings would stop. It didn’t happen then, it won’t happen now.