Iraq: "a badly deteriorating situation."

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at
Thu Jul 10 09:38:46 MDT 2003

With yesterday's hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee,
the truth about the Iraq war -- that it is turning into a new Vietnam --
is starting to come out.

General Tommy Franks, who just stepped down as head of Central Command,
said the U.S. would need to keep 150,000 troops there "for the
foreseeable future," and the Senators extracted from Rumsfeld a dollar
figure cost for this effort $3.9 billion a month, double what the
Bushites were claiming a couple of months ago.

Rumsfeld could offer the Senators nothing more than vague pleads for
patience, seconded by Bush in Africa.

What few specifics were addressed by Rumsfeld amount to a program of
Vietnamization that won't get off the ground for months. The idea is to
hire and train a puppet police force and a puppet army and set up a
puppet regime on top of it. The problem for the U.S. is that even a
puppet regime needs some sort of social base. The Iraqis who are with
the Americans have no base; the ones who do have a base aren't with the

That's why the U.S. has been so slow to call together any sort of body
of Iraqis to serve as political cover. It is Washington's judgment the
Iraqis aren't reliable. If the puppet assembly or council turns around
and demands the U.S. leave --and the pressure on them to do that from
the mosque and from the street are substantial-- it would be a terrible
political defeat for the occupation. 

Given this, the New York Times today has an editorial (from which I drew
the quote in the subject line of this post) which proposes an
alternative policy, except that it really isn't an alternative, just the
same policy, only moreso: vigorous vietnamization. "One badly needed
change in Iraq is faster, more visible progress toward self-government."
And so on.

So far, the scale of the of the guerrilla resistance seems modest. But
reports in the kept press note the number of attacks are increasing, as
is their sophistication. But even on this scale, the effect on the
morale of the American occupation forces has been devastating. Rumsfeld
announced the Third Infantry division is being withdrawn, the one based
in Georgia and one of the ones that's been involved in all sorts of
reports about morale problems. 

And in another "non combat" death, a soldier with the 101st air mobile
division died from what is officially described as a nonhostile gunfire
incident. The army isn't telling, but someone in the division ratted to
the AP that the soldier committed suicide. Not the sort of thing to
cheer up conquering heroes who thought they'd been promised that they'd
be home eating hot dogs and watching fireworks on July 4th, not eating
MRE's and receiving hostile fire from Iraqis in 100-degree-plus heat.

As for the effectiveness of the puppet police, the first element of the
puppet regime to be created, there is a telling anecdote in one of
today's dispatches: 

"Also in the city, several dozen Iraqi police officers, most dressed in
their new U.S.-provided uniforms, marched on the mayor's office to
demand that U.S. forces leave the police station, where they have been
staying. The police, who say they will quit their posts if the soldiers
don't leave by the weekend, claim the soldiers' presence is putting them
in danger because they are frequently targeted by insurgents." 


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