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Journalist Says Iraq Security Outlook is Bleak
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Journalist Says Iraq Security Outlook is Bleak


Journalist Says Iraq Security Outlook is Bleak
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Now let's get another perspective on security in Baghdad. Bobby Ghosh is writing about that subject in Time magazine. He's been in Iraq for three and a half years, and he's been listening along to the general with us.

Mr. Ghosh, welcome to the program.

Mr. BOBBY GHOSH (Correspondent, Time Magazine): Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: General Casey said Baghdad is more secure. What's your impression?

Mr. GHOSH: My impression is that a lot of the tactics that Gen. Casey described at the top of his interview - which is cordon, searches, checkpoints, house-to-house operations - these are all very familiar tactics in Baghdad. The U.S. military has used that for more than three years against the Sunni insurgency. Now, it didn't work then. There's no reason to believe that it will work now.

What typically happens is that when the U.S. military shows up in a neighborhood, the bad guys - if you like - melt away. Since they are local, it's not difficult for them to essentially vanish into a crowd, or they just move over to the next neighborhood. They wait for the Americans to finish their house-to-house operations. When the Americans have left - as inevitably they must do - the bad guys simply come back.

INSKEEP: In your own reporting, have you come across something the United States is doing in recent weeks that's different than in the past?

Mr. GHOSH: No, nothing at all seems new and different...

INSKEEP: Let me try it a different way. Is there something they're trying that is working?

Mr. GHOSH: As I said, it works in the short term. But it comes unstuck when the Americans leave and hand over the policing responsibilities to the Iraqi. The Iraqi police in particular - the national police as well as the local police -are deeply corrupt institutions that have been thoroughly infiltrated by Shiite militias, the very Shiite militias that the U.S. Army is trying to put down. So when the Americans leave and hand over responsibility to the police, they are in some senses asking the lunatics to run the asylum, which is never a good idea.

But the basic problem here, essentially - now that the U.S. is being asked to police a civil war, it is an impossible task. In a situation like this, U.S. military is not trained for this sort of operation. The only way you can stop a civil war is to pick one dog in the fight, and there is no way the American military or the U.S. government can do that. And that puts the soldiers in an impossible situation.

INSKEEP: Bobby Ghosh is a reporter for Time magazine. He's in Baghdad.

Thanks very much.

Mr. GHOSH: Any time.

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