2007/06/13

Burning Bridges

If roads are often called the arteries of a nation, then bridges would be the shunts that connect those arteries and help keep that society's commerce and prosperity flowing. This maxim would certainly be true in the case of Baghdad, Iraq. Bisected by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, bridges not only allow passage between neighborhoods divided by those mighty tributaries but are vital to the security plan being implemented by US forces.

Now those arteries are under siege, with three consecutive bombings in as many days. While there are many routes through which traffic can be detoured, I turn you to Larry Johnson for why these bombings could have serious implications for the viability of the surge.
Beyond the inconvenience factor, we must recognize that the destruction of bridges can produce the defacto isolation of U.S. outposts and bases. If a U.S. unit is attacked and requires reinforcements, the loss of these bridges increase the difficulty of the U.S. Quick Reaction Force reaching the scene in a timely manner. Moreover, with fewer alternate routes available, insurgents can anticipate where to hit a responding American force. In fact, an attack on an outpost could be a feint intended to provoke a U.S. reaction and give the insurgents the opportunity to ambush the inbound soldiers.
Indeed, as Ian Welsh points out this would be a classic example of anti-insurgency strategy. Only in this case our forces are the ones on the receiving end.

The arteries of Baghdad are being severed. And I fear no amount of white blood cells in the form of US soldiers will be enough to stop the hemorrhaging.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files and State of the Day)

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