“The Arab Mind” Now Is Like “The Asian Mind” in Vietnam, to the American Mind

Courtesy of TomDispatch:

“You have to understand the Arab mind,” Capt. Todd Brown, a company commander with the Fourth Infantry Division, said as he stood outside the gates of Abu Hishma. “The only thing they understand is force — force, pride and saving face.”

Tough New Tactics by U.S. Tighten Grip on Iraq Towns New York Times

“Only the fear of force gets results. It’s the Asian mind. It’s completely different than the Western mind. Look — they’re a thousand years behind us in this place, and we’re trying to get them up to our level.”

Captain Ted L. Shipman, U.S. intelligence officer, quoted in Jonathan Schell’s The Real War: The Classic Reporting on the Vietnam War


Back , I wrote about how the U.S. had dropped a “bunker buster” on a Baghdad neighborhood in the hopes that Saddam was underneath. He wasn’t and only neighborhood civilians were killed.

Today, Human Rights Watch reports that

50 strikes on top Iraqi leaders failed to kill any of the intended targets, but instead killed dozens of civilians, the Human Rights Watch report revealed. The U.S. “decapitation” strategy relied on intercepts of senior Iraqi leaders’ satellite phone calls along with corroborating intelligence that proved inadequate. As a result, the U.S. military could only locate targets within a 100-meter radius — clearly inadequate precision in civilian neighborhoods…

On a “decapitation” attack, apparently targeting Saddam Hussein on the basis of a satellite phone intercept, killed 18 civilians and destroyed three homes in the Mansur neighborhood of Baghdad. Residents said there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein or any members of the Iraqi government had been there.

“The decapitation strategy was an utter failure on military grounds, since it didn’t kill a single Iraqi leader in 50 attempts,” said [HRW Executive director Kenneth] Roth. “But it also failed on human rights grounds. It’s no good using a precise weapon if the target hasn’t been located precisely.”

The report was also highly critical of the use of cluster munitions — a problem also raised by a USA Today article (“Cluster bombs kill in Iraq, even after shooting ends”).

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