- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The current operations by Iraqi government forces seem to me more designed to establish front lines than to re-take territory. I’m assuming that they are looking to dig into a defensive line northwest of Baghdad, in order to hold on to as much of the capital as possible and perhaps also to preserve the ethnic cleansing back in 2006 of much of the west side of the city. Stable front lines also have a way, with the passage of time, of becoming lines of demarcation.
As for air strikes in Tikrit, that just seems like revenge hits, the result of the apparent feeling of Maliki and some of those around him that Tikritis deserve everything that happens to them as payback for being Saddam Hussein’s homies. Kind of the way General Sherman felt about South Carolina during our own civil war.
While we are on Iraq, James Risen of the New York Times has a good story on Blackwater. But I just can’t fathom some of the tweets coming out of that newspaper’s Baghdad bureau.
Hey kids, looking for a good dissertation topic?: How about Iranian intervention in Iraq as a model of a modern training and advisory campaign? Low profile, high impact: Compare and contrast.