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Friday, October 31, 2003

Quick Note: You may be wondering why we're so interested in Hussein's strategy. Here are our reasons:

a.) The U.S. is following a war plan that has several distinct phases - invasion, millitary victory, simultaneously "cleaning up" and rebuilding the country, and finally a transfer of power to an Iraqi government. This, however, may be the _wrong_ war plan because it assumes that the Iraqi military's actions will follow their respective roles and has no contingencies for a planned guerilla campaign.

b.) Because the U.S. may be following the wrong war plan, it's goals are out of sync with what will benefit the Iraqis most. It's not so much that the U.S. wants to do the wrong things; it's that the timing of when to do those things is wrong. One of the biggest mistakes made so far was to not secure arms caches distributed around the country immediately after conquering those territories. The looters took millitarily useful weapons and left the showy ones, a sign that they had plans for them beyond sales. Now, the U.S. is trying to fight a guerilla war (which shows no signs of diminishing) while simultaneously trying to rebuild the country. This strain on resources and the resulting lack of focus puts the U.S. in a bad position; it has to pursue anti-guerilla tactics (house to house searches, armed checkpoints, human intel) when it should be securing the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqis by focusing on reconstruction. This split focus will not achieve the goals the U.S. wants to achieve.

c.) The goalposts for "victory" in Iraq are wrong; victory obviously didn't happen on May 1st despite every desire on the part of the administration to be able to declare that it had "ousted" Hussein. Victory will happen when Saddam has zero political chance (by either death or loss of popularity) to regain power. Even then, it's a tricky business to declare "victory" because the struggle against the U.S. is seen by many Iraqis as a liberation struggle. In this sense, the U.S. has already lost the war because it can't revert to being viewed as "liberators" by the Iraqis. In a best-case scenario, the U.S. establishes enough stability to hold elections and quickly withdraws, providing financial support for rebuilding Iraq. This is far from the "Iraqis treating the U.S. as liberators" vision the war planners had.

d.) Most importantly, all this leads us to believe that Saddam has a chance for some sort of political comeback, and if not him then someone associated with him. A restoration of power to Saddam or anyone associated with him would be an out-and-out defeat for U.S. policy in Iraq, and may ultimately be the result of the administration's misguided war plan.

So, to sum up we think the U.S. is blowing it, and by so doing is setting the groundwork for a possible political comeback by Saddam Hussein or his associates. And that, above all else, would be the ultimate defeat for the U.S. in Iraq.

Andrew 10:43 AM : |


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