On the War was Re: "This was a new lesson from the resistance"

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Sun Nov 2 14:29:45 MST 2003

I have just listened to an interview with a Major Charles Hayman of _Jane's
World Armies_ - some sort of publication on military matters.  What he had
to say about "our" situation in Iraq was though interesting.  It also
helped fill out for me a remark from Stan Goff about the military tactics
being employed by the USA.  Basically this seems to be to withdraw to
barracks in order to limit exposure of USA personnel to Iraqi fire.   This
retreat has been complemented by large scale forays or search and destroy
missions such as happened this weekend in Tikrit.

There are several disadvantages of these tactics. The resistance simply has
to hunker down until the forays are over. Troops are confined and their
morale suffers accordingly. Moreover as Goff pointed out they still have to
communicate and move soldiers between the barracks.

This is a problem they have not even begun to solve.  The Humvee has proved
very vulnerable to road side ambushes.  As a consequence there has been a
call for armoured vehicles.  I am no expert here at all, but I doubt if
they are the solution to transporting soldiers around rather than taking
part in a set piece attack.

The Chinooks have been called in to solve the Humvee problem, but as we see
they are in turn terribly vulnerable to missile fire, and apparently there
are some 3000 of these missiles unaccounted for.

Hayman pointed another and perhaps more significant drawback.  While the US
army crouches in fear in the barracks the land belongs to the Iraqi
resistance. This means that the guerrillas can move around freely and plan
their ambushes with a degree of impunity. they can also terrorize those who
would seek to collaborate.

There is another aspect to the problem, which I would like to
emphasize.  You cannot run a modern state from encampments.  You have to go
out there and engage with the people.  That was of course the role of the
NGOs and the UN organisations.  A fact which explains why they have been
targeted.  Taking out the Aid Organisations means that the USA has to come
out of the barracks more if it wants Iraq's "recovery" to take place.

Hayman's preferred solution to the current crisis in Iraq is to double the
number of troops in order to "win the ground" from the resistance.  I doubt
if that is politically possible.  But it does seem to me that the USA
ruling class has been trapped into a quagmire by the fanatics in the White
House. Every step they take from here will have really serious
consequences.  For the moment they will stick with the retreat to barracks
+ forays approach.  But as Hayman points out that provides the conditions
for a further serious deterioration on the ground.  In the mean time
"moderate" Arab regimes are becoming seriously frightened.  One thing I did
learn from Tariq Ali's _Bush in Babylon_ was that successful Arab
resistance anywhere, stimulates the growth of the Arab nation, and strikes
fear deep into the hearts of the "moderates".

It is never pleasant to celebrate the death of anyone and I will not do
that.  But all over the Arab world this morning the rejoicing on the
street, would be considerable.

What though of the resistance?  As Lueko pointed out they do not appear to
be co-ordinated.  though the Americans have tried to represent the
resistance as being united under Saddam.  This is of course the bogeyman
tactic.  It is _Nightmare in Falujah_ with Saddam taking the role of Freddie.

The emphasis on Saddam is also motivated by the belief that it provides a
solution to the crisis.  Saddam is the problem.  Kill him and everything
will be ok.  As an example of this tiype of thinking I cut and pasted this
from the Al-Jazeera website-

'The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, agreed
that capturing Saddam Hussein ought to be a top priority for US forces in
Iraq, in light of recent attacks.

"We ought to bring him down," Senator John Rockefeller told CNN. "I think
now that's becoming an enormously important question in Iraq.

"Whether he's in charge of command and control ... he may or may not be,"
the West Virginia Democrat said. "I have to lean on the more gloomy, side
and that is that he does have something to do with that," Rockefeller said'

Politically this is of course pathetic, but it also does not make military
Here the Guardian reports though that  the British disagree with the
'co-ordinated by Saddam' scenario being constructed by the Americans.  They
argue that the resistance is localised and as a consequence much harder to
deal with.

Finally the Vietnam parallel?  Hayman suggested that a more appropriate
comparison would be Lebanon.  Primarily it seemed to me because of racial,
religious and linguistic matters.  I will stick with the Vietnam parallel
for *political*  reasons.  The Imperial Army  is in the field and the
people of Iraq have closed with it. Every blow they strike is a blow for
the emancipation of all the victims of imperialism.  That for me
constitutes the real link to Vietnam.



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