Controlling Iraq (was: Re: U.S. Cease-Fire Negotiating Team Heading to Baghdad?

loupaulsen at loupaulsen at
Wed Mar 26 11:27:46 MST 2003

José writes:

> I think the U.S. "victory" is inevitable in this sense and to this extent:
> The U.S. will succeed in completing the military occupation of the country
> and dismantling the current government apparatus. This does NOT necessarily
> mean an end to organized resistance, but it does mean the resistance would
> eventually be from an underground battling the occupying forces, not from a
> government which is in control of part of the national territory. [...]

> This does not mean Iraq could not become a "new Vietnam." Compared to
> Vietnam, though, the situation Iraq faces is qualitatively harder, in that
> a) there is no socialist bloc or other source of weaponry or other supplies;
> b) there's no "rearguard" for the Iraqis, a place where the imperialists
> land forces can't go for geopolitical considerations.

That's quite true.  On the other hand, the situation is also qualitatively
harder for the U.S. than in Viet Nam, because in South Viet Nam the U.S.
didn't have to provide the whole administrative, judicial, police, or even
military structure.  They had a puppet government for that.  In Iraq they
don't have a puppet government yet.

Furthermore the prospect of creating one out of the Iraqi National Council is
pretty dim.  They don't have any army on the ground.  There are three Kurdish
militia groups that have armies on the ground, and there is the Shi'ite
Council that could maybe get one, but that's not who they want to have
administering and policing Iraq!

At the moment they don't have a puppet force.  They have a bunch of tanks that
can travel around Iraq like the boss monster of a video game level.  But that
isn't the same as controlling a country of 25 million people.

So maybe the US can bust up the Ba'ath government's control, but that isn't
the same as having control themselves.  That's just creating a huge anarchic
mess where nobody has any control.

José is perfectly right to say that they need more quislings than they have:

> That's what Tony Blair is coming to tell Bush, according to news reports.
> They need UN or Arab League cover, and quislings, they must have them.

But it's not clear that they realize this.  Here is an article about how the
US army is going to manage the legal system.  As incentive for reading it, you
will find the QUOTE OF THE DAY:

U.S. Forces Prepare Martial Law for Iraq
Wed Mar 26, 9:49 AM ET

By DENIS D. GRAY, Associated Press Writer

AN NASIRIYAH, Iraq - American lawyers and legal officials in military uniform,
toting weighty law books and ready to establish martial law, are traveling
with U.S. and British troops surging into Iraq (news - web sites).

The legal experts are hoping, however, that the Iraqi justice system won't
fall apart in the event of a coalition victory, and will be able to maintain
order once the shooting stops.

"The U.S. cannot take over the mantle of law enforcement for the Iraqi
people," said Lt. Col. Richard Vanderlinden, commander of the 709th Military
Police Battalion. "The expectation is that the Iraqi law enforcement structure
will remain intact." [What?  The Ba'athist police get to keep their guns?
That's what the MP guy says, but the legal guy has a different slant on it.]

So far, contact between advancing U.S. troops and local authorities has been
limited, but as coalition forces take control of territory they, in effect,
become the law here.

"Any riots and we are going to put them down. We're going to send in the
infantry. Restoring civil authority and peace is the highest priority. We are
not going to let people run riot and rampant," said Capt. Jim Wherry of the
Judge Advocate General's Corps, the army's legal arm.

Offenders, Wherry said, could then be tried under the U.S. Code of Military
Justice, detained for post-war trials by civil authorities or face punishment
meted out by the Americans under Iraqi laws. The entire Iraqi judicial code
has been translated into English and made available to the U.S. military.

[That's lovely - Iraqis are going to get tried under US MILITARY LAW, or by US
military judges enforcing Ba'athist law [?!].  How many judges do you suppose
there are in Iraq, who must now be replaced by US military personnel?  Every
sergeant his own raj!]

Iraqi civilians likely to be detained by the Americans include those posing
perceived risks to U.S. troops, common criminals and people who may provide
valuable intelligence, such as members of Iraq's ruling Baath Party [including
the police, I suppose!].

"If we catch any terrorists we're going to whisk them off to Guantanamo,"
Wherry said, referring to the U.S. interrogation center in Cuba where
suspected al-Qaida members from Afghanistan (news - web sites) are being held.

How the coalition will establish the boundary between U.S. military and Iraqi
laws remains a "work in progress," Wherry said.

[And now comes the QUOTE OF THE DAY.  Feel free to reproduce it and put it on
leaflets - - -]

"We're still making it up as we go along and hope for the best," Wherry, of
Rock Island, Ill., said. "We are trying to have as little to do with this
country as possible while, in effect, taking it over."

Still, Saddam's vast security apparatus is expected to be purged of loyalists
and those suspected of torture and other human rights violations. Some
supporters of the regime, however, will have to be kept in place.

"After World War II, we got rid of all the Nazis in six months and then found
out we could not run the country without the Nazis," Wherry said.

A nightmare scenario would be a postwar, revenge-based bloodbath, with the
police and judiciary melting away and the United States having to become cop,
judge and jailer.

The U.S. military police say they're eager to work side-by-side with Iraqi
authorities after the war, much as they did in Kosovo and Bosnia.

Vanderlinden, who served for six months in Kosovo, said he expected to conduct
joint patrols and sweeps, share police intelligence and make arrests with his

[Yes, but in Kosovo they didn't work with the YUGOSLAV authorities.  They
worked with the KLA which, as we recall, had an army on the ground.  Here you
have something which really indeed works out to be more like the occupation of
Germany.  Does anyone recall (I don't) how many military personnel made up the
occupation force?]

"They (Iraqi police) will have a wealth of information, for example, on the
high crime rate areas in Baghdad, places where crime will probably escalate
after the war," he said.

As in Kosovo, a sweep of such an area might unearth a weapons cache,
information on a car theft ring or even intelligence about terrorists.

The Americans would act on the weapons and terrorists and the Iraqis would
take care of the car thieves, he said.

[These guys have it all worked out... on paper.]

Lou Paulsen

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