This is disgusting, inappropriate, and totally contrary to the "new way forward" and the stated goals in Iraq and more importantly the region.
And we wonder why they fight us. Why they hate us. And why we've failed...
I was reading a piece on (and called) "The Politics of Policy-Making" by Roger Hilsman. When reflecting on his time spent within the Administration of JFK he quoted either Bobby or John as saying this with respect to guerrilla warfare or counterinsurgency: "When fighting an insurgency, military measures should be subordinate to political action."
I fully realize that to have civilized politics in Iraq you must secure the capital as well as the state. But imagine the results -- short, mid, and long-term -- if that stability is achieved by extrajudicial punishments handed out by a Shi'a force under the guise of an Iraqi police or army force. Add to that the fact that these acts -- regardless of the guilt of those being punished -- are apparently being encouraged by US forces or at the least permitted. How is this unity government going to look? The answer is it won't look like anything. It won't look unified and it probably won't look like the government outlined as our end goal in Iraq. It won't even if the dream of stability bears fruit and it won't when the reality of chaos persists.
I fear that many of our soldiers and their leadership in the military and civilian domains, as Brent Scowcroft notes, have problems with absolutist beliefs. "[T]hey can get you into traps in which the ends justify the means. It can be dangerous to believe that one’s motives are so noble that therefore anything we do becomes okay because we are doing it for a good cause” he said. Or as David J. Rothkopf puts it, "the less moral ambiguity you have in your worldview, the more of it you can justify in your actions" (Foreign Policy, March/April 2005).
Today Bush said he's the 'decider'. Which he is. He's the sole organ of American foreign policy. Perhaps that's the problem?