It is sounding more and more like Bush & Co are at least as bad at warfare as they are at diplomacy. I can only hope that they are as bad at politics in 2004.
Angry Arabs Say Baghdad Market Blast U.S. Massacre
I tend to think that these blasts are the work of Saddam Hussein, or someone like Al Quaida, seeking to inflame Iraqi and Arab opinion against the US, rather than US bombs going astray.
How many bombs fell in Baghdad before these two incidents? How many caused damage beyond their targets and the immediate vicinity? Why is it that now, when more of our bombs are going into the south, rather than Baghdad, bombs start missing wildly, and hitting the worst possible locations?
So, a few things:
1. I understand now why Bush didn’t want to wait any longer. Bush used the threat of war with Iraq to motivate the UN into stepping up pressure on Iraq and to motivate Iraq into complying. Once the threat of Iraq was in the air though, the clock started ticking. Every day that went by was another day Iraqi troops could improve their defenses. Every time Bush turned up the heat to try to motivate both the UN and Iraq towards some conclusion, the Iraqis must have picked up the pace of their defensive preparations. At some point, the Iraqi defenses would become too well established to make an invasion practical from both a military and a political perspective (leaving Saddam Hussein to rearm at his own pace), and I imagine that point would come sooner once it because clear the UN wasn’t going to do anything. From this perspective, I’m surprised we didn’t attack Iraq a few weeks ago, when it was pretty obvious that either Russia or France would use their veto, and when it was equally obvious to Iraq that we would be going forward irregardless. Still, within this model, there seems to be room for considerably more finesse than we saw displayed.
2. While I have been skeptical about news reports out of Iraq, I realize I should be even more skeptical since the US is surely engaged in a misinformation campaign to confuse Iraqi troops and commanders. Taking that into consideration, some of the things I took as setbacks may not have been setbacks. This cuts a both ways though. For example, the US military might want to overemphasize the scope of the guerrilla tactics on the part of the Iraqi’s in order to justify risks that might result in civilian casualties to all watching.
3. If its true, the news of a column of Republican Guard troops heading south towards US positions is probably pretty good news for our side, and the move may have been provoked by our misinformation campaign. Its good news because the further those troops are from Baghdad, the better our chances for dealing with them before we enter the city. Even better, if they are underway, then they are out in the open, undefended, and easily attacked from the air.
I should also note that one result of guerrilla tactics on the part of Iraqi’s, with fighters posing as civilians, is that our troops will end up hassling, and probably killing, a lot more civilians. This isn’t isn’t going to help sell our invasion as “liberation” to the Iraqi people.
When the war started, I meant to post that I thought that I expected a quick military victory over Iraq, followed by a slow crushing defeat as we half-heartedly tried to remold the country while distracted by other foreign and domestic problems.
I never got around to it, and it is probably just as well, because I think I may have been over optimistic. Something isn’t right about the news we are getting back, even from the officially sanctioned and manipulated “embedded journalists.” It isn’t just that we are facing more resistance and defiance than we were led to expect. Its that we have claimed to have “taken” this or that city once, only to have to restate the point repeatedly after addressing one setback or another.
We have far fewer troops in the country than we need to control it. From that weak foundation, we have extended ourselves far into its interior. Iraqi troops are engaging in guerrilla tactics, posing as small groups of civilians. Meanwhile we have left large numbers of Iraqi forces unengaged in our hurry to reach Baghdad. This seems a bad combination. The forces we have bypassed now have time to de-group and blend into the civilian population. Once they have, it will be that much harder to distinguish them from civilians, and from true deserters, increasing the amount of effort we have to put into “crowd control,” something we are probably understaffed to do right now even in the best case.
I understand why Bush thought we needed to get into this fight. I don’t understand his great hurry.