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.