Militants attempting to ambush a US military convoy got more than they imagined when US forces unleashed a massive counterattack that left 46 terrorists dead, 18 injured, and 8 captured.
This is exactly what needs to be done. The terrorists need to know that every ambush comes with the risk of massive retaliation at any time. If more counterattacks like this occur and are widely publicized it will hurt the abilities of the terrorists to recruit as well as killing those terrorists still active in the region.
Momentum is important in this conflict, and right now the momentum of the conflict is not on our side. This must change, and the way to change that momentum is not to sit quietly around and let the terrorists to continue to attack US forces with relative impunity. We have to strike back, and we have to continue to strike back hard. Operation Iron Hammer was the right idea, but it should have been executed the moment the attacks began, not after several months.
Dale Amon has another interesing idea – that the Iraqis would be less likely to handle this situation with kid gloves. Indeed, Alaa at The Mesopotamian frequently echoes this sentiment – the locals know very well who the Ba’athists are and they aren’t going to pussyfoot around with them. As Mr. Amon states:
We have to push the control of security into Iraqi hands as fast as we possibly can… but we do have to balance this with progress in the creation of a civil society. That is the gift we wish to leave behind us. It will have far more lasting effects than the burial of Saddam’s spawn.
The day will come when Iraqi police and government take over everything… and very soon afterwards a large number of Baathists will turn up dead.
Exactly, which is why we have to trust the Iraqis. The process of eliminating a hardened and vile resistance is not one that can be done without getting one’s hands dirty. We’ve been playing war by Western rules in which people like Colonel West who merely intimidated an Iraqi can be tried like a common criminal. Our enemy is playing by a set of rules in which there are no boundaries. We can’t fight back with one hand tied behind our backs – but the Iraqis can and will fight the Ba’athists using every tool at their disposal.
It isn’t nice, it isn’t clean, and many people may have problems with it. However, if we want to solve the problem of terrorism, it’s what has to be done. This is a war, and a total war at that, and unless we treat it as such we cannot expect to survive it.