Visions Of Life
It has been nine days since the United States launched its
attack against Iraq. The war has not gone as many
expected. The difficulties encountered by the U.S.-led
coalition have raised questions about Washington's
strategy and the assumptions that undergirded the allied
assault. Although those doubts challenge the official
arrogance that preceded the march to war, they should not
be allowed to challenge the rationale for the war itself.
If the Iraqi regime needed to be overthrown, then
casualties must not deter the US from acting. However, the
cost in American blood may become to high for Washington
to rationalize the value of the oil revenues they will
steal from the "liberated" Iraq.
Prior to the onset of hostilities, the U.S. trumpeted
a "shock and awe" strategy that would devastate the enemy
and leave it helpless in the face of the U.S. onslaught.
Commentary suggested that war would begin with an assault
of unprecedented ferocity that would break the will of the
enemy. Thus far, Baghdad has been anything but shocked and
awed. Journalists in Iraq witnessing the allied attack
only belatedly recognized the overwhelming power brought
The number of weapons rained down upon Iraq has been
staggering. Reportedly, more precision guided munitions
were used in one 24-hour period than during the entire
first Persian Gulf War. But there are indications that the
coalition's tactics did not match its might. Iraq's
Ministry of Defense was allegedly not targeted, fueling
rumors that the U.S. was negotiating with members of the
Iraqi military to trigger an insurrection.
The continued broadcasting of Iraqi television -- until
recently -- suggests that the U.S. was hoping to exploit
that medium for a propaganda advantage. The regime's
survival undermined that tactical decision and Baghdad
used its broadcast media to rally support. The regular
briefings and press conferences served up by Baghdad gave
Iraqi nationalists and soldiers another option, holding
out hope that their government may, indeed, survive.
Success has yielded its own vulnerabilities. Coalition
forces are overstretched. Advancing forces raced toward
Baghdad, only to be slowed by the "logistical tail" needed
to support their march. Rearguard attacks by Iraqi forces
have claimed allied casualties and demonstrated flaws in
the U.S. strategy. Resistance has also slowed the allied
The course of the war cannot be explained solely by
coalition mistakes. Iraq has learned from the first
Persian Gulf War. Iraqi forces have not waged open combat
with the coalition. For the most part, they have retreated
and forced their enemy to engage them in confined spaces.
They have avoided open combat, provided no easy targets
and, when they have engaged the coalition, have done so on
territory of choosing: in urban settings, behind the mass
of allied forces. But, the notion that the regime would
collapse has been proven false.
It is as yet unclear whether the popular resistance
to "liberation" is genuine or the product of force and
manipulation by Iraq government forces. Nonetheless, the
reluctance of "freed" populations to welcome allied forces
must have been a shock to the U.S. and its allies. The
power of Arab nationalism has challenged assumptions about
the way the war would unfold. Worse, the Iraqi resistance
has struck a chord in other Arab countries, fueling
nationalist and anti-Western sentiment there and
challenging the pro-U.S. stance of their governments.
What is clear is that the war against Iraq will not be the
quick and sanitized battle that had been implied by
Washinton hyped in the media. Increasingly, from the
president on down, U.S. officials warn that the conflict
will be drawn out. That has several critical implications.
First, the allied will to fight must not flag. Even
thought there is talk of holding Baghdad under siege and
waiting for the public to revolt, thus saving the troops
from any real casualties. Difficulties in waging war
should have no effect on the will to fight. Desperate
resistance mounted on behalf of the Baghdad regime is to
IF the cause was valid before the war began...
It SHOULD still be valid no matter what the cost in
Coalition lives. History will be the judge of that. I for
one am of the opinion that this war will bring nothing but
further hatred of the United States and the West in
general from the Middle East. Fanning the flames of the
terrorist resolve. Those who are willing to sacrafice the
most are the ones who will prevail in the long run.