- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Almost every day, it seems, Aswat al-Iraq carries news stories about former members of the Sahwa movement (the Sunni insurgents who were put on the American payroll but not disarmed during the Surge of 2007-08) getting whacked:
Interior Ministry sources reported the killing of ex-pro-government Sahwa (Awakening) member by unknown gunmen in Abu Ghraib area, west Baghdad.
The source told Aswat al-Iraq that the gunmen stormed into the deceased house and killed him with his family.
The family comprised of two women and two children.
Tom again: This pattern of killings makes me wonder if the Surge effectively surfaced and identified the local leadership network of Sunni insurgents, and whether that knowledge is now being used by Prime Minister Maliki and his allies in the low-grade civil war that has resumed in central Iraq.
If so, did the Americans "let a hundred flowers bloom" — and so create the conditions for the harvesting of those Sunni flowers? By so doing, did we enable a quiet Iranian offensive inside Iraq? If so, I suspect that we did not, in Maoist terms, correctly "handle the contradictions among the people."