Tuesday, December 19, 2006


So W. is going to throw another 50,000 troops into Baghdad in his "double down" strategy. Brilliant. Maybe he can get the American body count up to 4,000 by next June!

The idiocy of this idea is obliquely illustrated by a Times article on the "electrical siege" of Baghdad. Insurgents, working autonomously or in coordination, are systematically starving the capital of electricity, making life there even worse, crippling the government's ability to run the country, and drawing American and Iraqi troops out into the countryside. This kind of warfare doesn't get as much press as IEDs killing another 19-year old farm kid or a truck bomb blowing up 70 day laborers, but it's probably even more important, over the long term, in bringing the government down.

In March, at most one or two of the lines were severed at any one time, but by the summer the typical number had risen to six or seven and had soared to a peak of 12 by early fall. Electricity officials say the decisive moment came July 6, when saboteurs mounted coordinated attacks across the country, gaining a lead in the battle that the government has not been able to reverse... A typical strategy was to set off explosives at the four support points of a single tower, which would then pull down two or three more towers as it toppled. As repair crews moved in hours or days later, another tower farther up the line might be struck, and then another, in a race the government had little chance of winning.

On Sunday, Mr. Abbo [the assistant director for transmission in the Electricity Ministry] recited the most recent measures of the devastation. That day, 40 towers were down on a line running to Baghdad from one of the nation’s largest power plants in Baiji, in the insurgent-ridden north, and 42 more towers were down on a line connecting Baiji to a huge power plant in Kirkuk.

Towers were also down on two lines that pass through the “triangle of death” to connect Baghdad with a power plant to the south in Musayyib, and on four other lines in the Baghdad area or its environs. And the city was entirely cut off from the huge hydroelectric dam at Haditha, to the west in Anbar Province, the homeland of the Sunni insurgency.

Last one out of Iraq, turn off the... Oh. Never mind.