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The Idiocy of Terror Squads

The obvious immorality of a terror squad approach to pacifying Sunni Iraqis aside, Matt Yglesias wonders whether it nonetheless may work. Two simple objections: 1. it would undermine Iraqis' confidence in their national security forces, encouraging more violence against them; 2. the effort entails training Kurdish peshmerga to wage a terror war against the Sunni population, a surefire recipe for civil war.

The insurgents' campaign against Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi National Guard is surely its most ingenious and effective tactic. They have successfully infiltrated and intimidated indigenous forces for months, preventing the Bush administration from cobbling together its best hope for troop replacements. The strategy walks a fine line, though, as Iraqi security forces have families and friends, who are unlikely to look fondly on their assassination; the insurgents risk undermining their support every time they massacre fellow Iraqis. Turning the security forces into death & terror squads removes the risk from their operation.

Sectarian and ethnic tensions are at all time highs in the lead up to the elections. Shiites and Sunni's are as distrustful as ever, and Kurds are both reviled by Sunni's for their pro-Americanism, and wary of Shiites, whose majority threatens Kurdish self-governance. Explicitly sanctioning "hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen" disciplinary terrorism against Sunnis will lead to disaster.

A random assortment of other bloggers on terror squads:

Mark Kleiman
The Poor Man
Brad Delong
Juan Cole
Washington Monthly [1 & 2]

Update, 10:44 PM EST: The New York Times reports that "insurgents killed the deputy police chief of Baghdad and his son on Monday morning and later detonated an unusually powerful roadside bomb that destroyed a heavily armored American military vehicle, killing two American soldiers and wounding four in the latest of a string of daylight attacks." This is a tragic example of the success the insurgents have had against Iraqi police forces.


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