Italian hostages reported killed - the ineffectiveness of the occupation demonstrated, again

According to an unverified report, Iraqi guerillas have killed two Italian aid workers who were taken hostage on 7 September. Meanwhile, the dire position of a British hostage, seized last week with two Americans who have since had their heads cut off, was driven home by the fact that he has been reduced to begging Tony Blair for his life.

The increasingly frequent kidnappings should raise real questions for people who still believe that the US's occupation is going well and everything is ok and peace and democracy are just around the corner. These Italian aid workers, if they are not already dead, have been sitting in some makeshift underground dungeon for over 2 weeks. Where are the commando raids? Where are the attempts to free them? Where is even the most rudimentary security to prevent these hostages from being taken in broad daylight?

An even better question is this: where is the intelligence from the Iraqi side that would make the commando raids possible? Here's the answer: it doesn't exist. The guerillas are getting increasingly better intelligence on US forces and their Iraqi collaborators, but the reverse isn't true. In fact, US intelligence is getting worse, if we are to judge by the increase in American casualties and the kidnappings. A kidnapping in a city of millions like Baghdad doesn't just happen with no one knowing anything about it. The fact that not a single witness will pick up the phone (if it even works) and leave an anonymous tip that will let the SAS boys swoop in and rescue the hostages should provide a real alarm bell for people who think that the occupation has a future and that ordinary Iraqis like it.

The US and the UK like to pretend that they take the high ground and don't negotiate with "terrorists". This is bullshit, of course, as the US's experience in Lebanon during the civil war and with the MEK during the invasion have shown us, but it does convey the point to Americans and Britons that if you're caught up in the mess your governments have made of things, they won't help you. And in this case, they can't either.

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