IN THE NEWS
One of the great seductions for a government fighting guerrillas is to use the most direct means possible: kill as many confirmed or suspected guerrillas, as quickly as possible. There are a lot of things wrong with this approach, not least of which it reduces a political, "fourth generation" war into a purely military conflict. It has far worse ramifications, however, when the dirty war becomes the cover under which old scores are settled.
According to recent news reports, that's exactly what's happening in Iraq. If true, this predictable but frightening turn in this counterinsurgency war. Training more Iraqi soldiers and police doesn't necessarily change the political and military battlefield--and, depending on how the expansion of the Iraqi security forces happens, may easily make things worse for Iraqi and US interests. Deploying more green troops, under equally green commanders, into places where they face constant danger won't help win this war. Exacerbating the frictions between Sunnis and Shi'ites really won't help. Appearing complicitous in a dirty war is a formula for complete disaster.