Skip to comments.MARK STEYN: The war? That was all over two weeks ago
Posted on 04/04/2003 3:40:38 PM PST by MadIvan
This war is over. The only question now is whether a new provisional government is installed before the BBC and The New York Times have finished running their exhaustive series on What Went Wrong with the Pentagon's Failed War Plan and while The Independent's Saddamite buffoon Robert Fisk is still panting his orgasmic paeans to the impenetrability of Baghdad's defences and huffily insisting there are no Americans at the airport even as the Saddam International signs are being torn down and replaced with Rumsfeld International.
Two weeks ago, which is when the Hopelessly Bogged-Down Vietnam Quagmire began, I wrote in this space:
The best thing is to ignore the various scenarios and look at patterns of behaviour. Whatever happened in that bunker on Thursday morning, the Iraqis are certainly acting as if they're headless. In a tyranny like Saddam's, local commanders are careful not to show initiative. They do what they're told and, if they're not told, they do nothing. That seems to be what's happening in much of Iraq.
I should have left it there and gone to the Virgin Islands for the duration. The way to understand this campaign is to look at the dogs of war that didn't bark: no missile attacks on Israel and only a couple of perfunctory strikes at Kuwait; not a single Iraqi plane in the sky in defence of the homeland; the key river bridges mined with explosives but not a single one detonated; no significant land engagements, etc.
All these are big decisions which would have been taken at the top and, if there's no top, nobody takes the decision. If you choose to believe that was the real deal on Saddam's latest video, it doesn't alter the fact that the Iraqis are still acting headless: everything that has not happened this last fortnight is consistent with the leadership being embedded into the rubble with a last startled look on their moustaches.
On the other hand, everything that has taken place is strictly local, freelance, improvised. Many commanders have done nothing: they're the ones I wrote about, the ones so paralysed by the silence from HQ that they're not even capable of showing the initiative to surrender; they're just waiting for the orders that never come.
Others have figured the jig's up, discarded their uniforms and returned to their families. Some guys have gone loco, piling into pick-ups and driving themselves into the path of the infidels' tanks. A relatively small number have gone in for guerrilla tactics in the southern cities. The more insane local strongmen have turned on the citizenry. A few have opted to become suicide bombers, others to co-opt pregnant women as suicide bombers.
But, even if you dignify these as military operations, they're all tactics, no strategy, and most of them require at least as many dead Ba'athists as dead Americans or British.
As my colleague John Keegan asked yesterday, "Where is the enemy?" The answer, in terms of a formal Iraqi military presence, is that it's confined to the Baghdad broadcasting studio. On Iraqi TV, every Information Minister or Deputy Prime Minister who turns up to read the late Saddam's latest statement is wearing a uniform. In the Iraqi army, hardly anyone is.
You couldn't ask for a better visual summation: Iraq has no general, just the odd paunchy yes-man who plays one on TV. On the ground, it has no real manpower, just a few terrorists willing to push their comrades and the civilian population into the line of fire. (For the benefit of the more pedantic moral equivalists, I hasten to add that targeting the US military doesn't make you a terrorist, but using a pregnant woman as your weapon does.)
It takes two to quagmire. In Vietnam, America had an enemy that enjoyed significant popular support and effective supply lines. Neither is true in Iraq. Isolated atrocities will continue to happen in the days ahead, as dwindling numbers of the more depraved Ba'athists confront the totality of their irrelevance. But these are the death throes: the regime was decapitated two weeks ago, and what we've witnessed is the last random thrashing of the snake's body.
As I wrote back then, apropos Robert Fisk's massive bulk loo-paper purchase in the run-up to war, "I can't say this strikes me as a 25-roll war". By the time you read this, Tariq Aziz and the last five Ba'athists in Baghdad may be holed up in Fisk's Ba'athroom, and he'll be hailing the genius of their plan to lure the Americans to their doom by leaving his loo rolls on the stairwell for the Marines to slip on.
But, for everyone other than media naysayers, it's the Anglo-Aussie-American side who are the geniuses. Rumsfeld's view that one shouldn't do it with once-a-decade force, but with a lighter, faster touch has been vindicated, with interesting implications for other members of the axis of evil and its reserve league.
Funniest Mark Steyn quote of the new millenium. This one is gonna be a classic. Good enough for a SNL skit.
I get the feeling sometimes that 'Mark Steyn' is the name of an expansive, erudite think tank.
Good one, Petronski. More probably, a one-man think tank.
He failed to connect one set of dots. There were many opportunities for infastructure destruction that were missed. Bridges, the oil terminal, the oil fields and refineries, channel mines, the various air ports, on and on and on.
Perhaps there was death in the bunker, but I suspect there was massive money under the table. The CIA has been spending Jessee Jacksons welfare on Generals and Colonels who will form the new Iraqui army. It will be shown that this has been in process for several months and was a complete sucess. Money is a very cost efficient weapon.
People love it and it feels good instead of hurting.
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