June 04, 2004

Prophylactic tactics

Interesting proposal from Brookings on how to win over the Iraqi public:
The objective of insurgent tactics is to show that coalition forces cannot protect the civil population while simultaneously provoking responses that will drive up civilian "collateral damage." Our forces cannot entirely escape this dilemma, but they can demonstrate greater sensitivity for Iraqi civilian casualties, first by beginning to keep track of how many innocents are indeed being killed and wounded by insurgent or coalition actions, and then by adjusting tactics and rules of engagement to reduce the figure. American spokesmen in Iraq might talk less about offensive operations to win the war on terrorism and more about protective measures to improve security for the Iraqi public. Emergency and long-term medical attention for civilian victims can be improved and highlighted. Coalition commanders can defer to Iraqi authorities when considering operations likely to produce high collateral damage, and explore the possibilities for local accommodation with tribal, communal and religious elements.
These are subtle shifts and nothing like a grand sweeping strategy, but increments do add up, and the change in focus probably would alleviate some tensions. Alas, this is yet another Iraq proposal that would have worked marvelously had it been implemented, oh say, last year.
-- Brad Plumer 1:40 AM || ||