IRAQ: The Downside of Mercy (08/22/2005 entry)
In a Strategy Page post on why the Sunni insurgency has been and continues to be so strong:
The fighting in World War II was brutal, with much of the pain being inflicted on civilians. Germany lost over five million dead, Japan over three million. The bombing and ground fighting destroyed the homes of civilians, 255,000 in Germany and 2.2 million (because of their more flammable construction) in Japan. At the end of World War II, the civilians, who supported the dictatorships, had been hammered. They were beaten, and willing to accept new arrangements.
Such was not the case in Iraq in 2003. Smart bombs and a short war kept the civilian casualties low. The Sunni Arabs did not appreciate their good fortune, and, instead, saw an opportunity to continue fighting, to terrorize their conquerors and regain power.
Doubtlessly, if more had been killed during the invasion, there would be fewer to fight today. But I’m not sure that this really holds water.
More likely, though is this later in the article:
No one will say it out loud, but the implied threat is that, either the Sunni Arabs turn against al Qaeda and the anti-government terrorists, or have the Kurds and Shia Arabs (80 percent of the population) go to war with the entire Sunni Arab community. This becomes more a possibility as the Iraqi army and police forces grow larger. The Sunni Arabs dominated the military and security forces for decades, but the Kurds and Shia Arabs are rapidly catching up. The United States does not want this civil war to happen, but has to deal with the fact that it already has. The terrorism of the last two years has targeted Kurds, Shia Arabs and government supporters in general. The Iraqi majority have not restrained themselves, but they have not had the military and police forces capable to striking back. Now they do, and the violence against Sunni Arabs has been increasing.
I’ve pointed out previously that the much-feared civil war in Iraq has been going on for years already. And that worse things could happen. Still, that’s not what we’re after and major open warfare (as opposed to today’s tribal clashes) would be a Bad Thing, especially for American troops caught in the middle.