Iraq air strike scheme questioned

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is considering a plan to put U.S. airpower at the disposal of Iraqi commanders in order to reduce the number of troops on the ground, an option that is causing consternation among U.S. Air Force commanders, the UK Guardian reports. Military officials warn it could lead to increased civilian casualties and the use of bombing to settle old scores.

According to an article in the New Yorker magazine by Seymour Hersh, the possibility of using airpower as a substitute for troops on the ground causes unease in the military mainly because officials suspect that Iraqis will eventually be responsible for target selection.

"Will the Iraqis call in air strikes in order to snuff rivals, or other warlords, or to snuff members of your own sect and blame it on someone else?" a senior military planner told the magazine. "Will some Iraqis be targeting on behalf of al-Qaeda, or the insurgency, or the Iranians?"