Our correspondent telephoned Saturday. Indeed, there were troubles at his base. A recent blog entry from a journalist embedded at the base said one soldier had been killed and 24 rockets hit the base. Our correspondent expressed surprise that so many rockets had hit. Didn’t seem like it at the time. You never know for sure, but it’s amazing how little gets into the mainstream media.
Meanwhile his work continues as he travels outside the wire every day. It’s not terribly interesting because most of the time is spent waiting for the Iraqi police or army to decide to do something. It gives pause to wonder why so many troops will be needed over the next 12 months. The Iraqi police/military are happy the U.S. troops remain, but probably because the U.S. military is so generous with funds. Brand new Ford and Chevy pickups are sprouting like crocuses in the spring. Iraqi chop shops weld machine gun mounts to the bed and they become the poor man’s Bradley fighting vehicle. In true U.S. fashion, they even argue about which is best, Chevy or Ford. The consensus seems to be Chevy. “Ford no good,” he hears a lot. Poor Ford.
Our correspondent feels that if U.S. troops are sent home, but the money keeps flowing, the peace process would accelerate, save the U.S. billions and lower casualties and violence on all sides. Sounds like this should be a new pillar of our foreign policy. Send money, not troops. This is how Saudi Arabia and other Middle East oil barons work, and they’ve managed to tie the U.S. into a pretzel knot in both Afghanistan and Iraq for a miniscule fraction of the U.S. military costs in both of these ventures.