Breakfast in Iraq
If you want to make a big Iraqi omlette, you have to shoot a few eggs on sight so that the word gets around.
Seriously. In case you havn't heard, our new tactic to bring order to the tumultuous streets of Iraq is summary execution. Under a change in policy from the new overseer, L. Paul Bremmer, G.I.s are authorized to use deadly force on looters or people committing violent crimes. According to Bremmer, "They are going to start shooting a few looters so that the word gets around." Kind of speaks to the new bigman's attitude. Sounds almost Saddamesque.
The whole Iraqi debacle has been marked reapeatedly by comic-book flourishes -- evil-dooers, deadly poisons, underground laboratories, righteous crusade -- so I suppose no one should be surprised at this Judge Dredd turn of events. Still, this is a terrible idea. First of all, anyone shot by US Forces will become an insta-martyr for anti-American agitators, regardless of the circumstances. Secondly, few Army personnel understand the Iraqi language or culture; as such it's only a matter of time before some misunderstanding turns deadly.
Due to the lack of a local authority, I'm afraid heavy-handed measures like this will create more instability and violence than they supress. Moreover, one has to wonder, how are the decisions made? Is it just up to the individual solder or squad leader to decide, and if so, what kinds of solders will make the choice to fire in what kinds of situations? How will uses of deadly force be reviewed, if at all? How will this affect the relationship between the G.I.s and the people? Seems like a big can of worms to me. Unless we're prepared to go all the way with this iron-fist routine (and I sincerely hope we're not), we aught not to set off down that road.