Danger on Route Irish

Austin Bay has an interesting piece at StrategyPage.com entitled, “Danger on Route Irish.” It discusses roadblock procedures in Iraq, based on his own experiences there.

[O]ne rule never changes at a roadblock: Even escorted military convoys slow down as they approach a roadblock. As for a single civilian auto approaching at high speed? If a driver doesn’t hit the brakes, the troops will shoot.

[…]

Though the Iraqi election and the democratic surge in Lebanon demonstrate that this most intricate war we’re fighting has the potential for huge payoffs in hope, justice and peace, on Baghdad’s streets a Fiat might still be a kamikaze. Or is it a family sedan? As the car rushes forward the soldier — whose life is on the line — has a split-second to decide.

Yep.

For my thoughts on the roadblock issue, see “The Gray Zone Between War and Peace” at Tech Central Station.

FILED UNDER: Europe, Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. ken says:

    With two years of experience in Iraq US forces know that when they open fire on a ‘suspicious vehicle’ they are more than likely to be firing on innocents than on someone with a vehicle loaded with explosives. Yet they continue to act as if it is the innocent victims fault for getting killed or maimed.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Your alternative would be, what, exactly?

    To the extent we can do a better job of letting people know what to expect and marking the checkpoints and so forth, I’m all for it. But I don’t expect our troops to operate under the presumption that cars barreling toward them at 100mph are “innocents.”

  3. Gottlieb Almanegro says:

    A communist journalist is outraged at America. What a surprise.

  4. ken says:

    James, it is a matter of morality.

    Since experience has proven that almost always when a ‘suspicious vehicle’ is shot at, regardless of why someone thinks it is suspicious, (going to fast, going to slow, weaving, making a u-turn, etc) innocents are killed or maimed it is clear that the policy of shooting first and finding out who is dead later has got to stop.

    American soldiers have got to realize that they are the occupiers of a country whose people are 99.9% not terrorists. Yet they act as if every Iraqi is out to kill them.

    So yes, the presumption of innocence must be given to everyone. As to what the soldiers should do at a checkpoint – well they are soldiers and they need to obey orders, so the orders should be to have all vehicles stopped by a physical barrier instead of bullets. Once the vehicles are stopped they can then be searched.

    BTW James you know what is really dumb? It is really dumb to presume that anyone who wants to get a car close to a checkpoint would drive ‘suspiciously’ since it is only the ‘suspiciously’ driven cars that get shot at. Apparently if someone loaded up a SUV with explosives and drove calmly and slowly they would be allowed right up to a checkpoint.

  5. McGehee says:

    So yes, the presumption of innocence must be given to everyone.

    Ken, why don’t you go right on over there and tell ’em to their faces how to do it?

  6. LJD says:

    But you “support our troops” right ken?

    “US forces know that when they open fire on a ‘suspicious vehicle’ they are more than likely to be firing on innocents…”

    And who told you this? OR did you just assume it to be true after watching al jazeera? Your statement implies the our troops knowingly shoot at civilians. Shame on you.

    “Since experience has proven that almost always when a ‘suspicious vehicle’ is shot at, innocents are killed or maimed it is clear that the policy of shooting first and finding out who is dead later has got to stop”

    It only seems that way because the suspicious vehicles that are not shot at tend to blow up and kill even more civilians. Maybe I’ll just check with the Army on the shoot-first policy.

    Ken, if you are an American, and you honestly feel this way, you really ought to leave. We are such a terrible society.