Looting and Violence in Iraq:

Shoot to kill looters? That was last Wednesday's story, one which sadly proved not to be true. It is necessary to get a handle on the chaos in Baghdad if anything positive is to come out of the business. However, there is no clear evidence that the US Army forces are going to take the steps necessary to command the city. Time is running out, as forces from Afghani mujahedeen to Iranian militants are occupying the city. The New Republic reports that Hezbollah has entered the city as well. The Army seems remarkably calm about all this. An official speaking anonymously said "`We have about a month to get that under control; after that, it will be too late.''
But a month seems to me a remarkable estimate.

It need not be this way: the emerging recovery of Mosul demonstrates that the looting can be stopped, although admittedly Mosul's commander had the advantage of using Force Recon Marines backed by a MEU (SOC). (An aside--you'll recall that a MEU (SOC) is a Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable. See the archives of this blog if the concept isn't familiar to you: I did a piece on special operations forces on 24 April. MEU (SOC) is pronounced "Meew-sock," as if it were a cat toy instead of a horde of deadly warriors.) Something on that order needs to be dispatched to Baghdad, the rules of engagement need to be changed to permit the use of emphatic force, and it would be a good idea to see that Bremer has the authority he needs to command the military forces as well as the diplomatic efforts.

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