Why the war has become a clusterf**k
March 28, 2003 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Why the war has become a clusterf**k On my way back from lunch I was listening to Fresh Air and an interview with Christopher Dickey. The things he was saying about the motives of work-a-day Iraqis came as a big surprise to me. In particular: It sounds like they'll keep fighting us long after Saddam and his army are gone. [more inside]
posted by y6y6y6 (72 comments total)

 
Mr. Dickey has been in Jordan interviewing some of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who live there. It turns out many of these men are returning to Iraq to fight the US invasion. And he says no one there thinks of this as a liberation. The universal Arab and Iraqi view is that this is an invasion.

"But the resistance to the United States "is a matter of Iraqi patriotism," says Chalabi. "No one will accept the Americans’ presence there."

Worse yet, he is hearing people boast that once Saddam is gone terrorism will increase as the populous tries to get the US out of the country. It seems to me (just my opinion) Al Qaeda will be a welcome ally in such a climate. As Saddam loses control, people who hate him now will be happy to turn over chemical weapons to terrorists who can help them fight the US.

"We will accept the Americans to come liberate us from Saddam because,” says an architect from Baghdad, "it’s easier afterward to fight the Americans than to fight Saddam. This is the way we feel. This is what 'the silent majority' are thinking, if you want to know."

Though I have always opposed the war, I assumed that it would be fairly easy. I didn't think it would be a cake walk, but I figured it would never turn into a Vietnam situation. If Dickey is right we may have gotten ourselves mired in a serious clusterfuck.

"I don’t hate the Americans," says Mohamed Al- Alwani, 36, who was at the Iraqi Embassy in Amman, Jordan, earlier this week to get the necessary papers to return. "When anyone comes to Iraq as a guest, we will receive him with flowers and dates and yogurt and all the highest hospitality. But when he comes as an invader we will fight with the last of our blood."

It's a giant shit sandwich now. And we (the US) all need to take a bite.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:26 PM on March 28, 2003


Though I have always opposed the war, I assumed that it would be fairly easy. I didn't think it would be a cake walk, but I figured it would never turn into a Vietnam situation.

I was just about to post this exact sentiment. Every day for the last several months I have been getting more and more pessimistic about the entire situation. This is going to be a long, drawn out disaster on so many levels...
posted by jacobsee at 2:34 PM on March 28, 2003


Well I'm sure you've been thinking up the shit sandwich line up all week so congrats on finding a post to use it on. But seriously this is one guys opinion, one guy who believes that the memory of the Americans pulling out last time is a bigger deal than the Fedayeen forcing folks at gunpoint to go fight.

I'm sure the people are very reticent to start an uprising after last time, but to think that the grudge they hold against us is stronger than the one they hold against Saddam is ridiculous.
posted by zeoslap at 2:35 PM on March 28, 2003


Well I'm sure you've been thinking up the shit sandwich line up all week so congrats on finding a post to use it on.

See, zeoslap, right away you have to turn this into an personal insult directed at the poster; why is that sort of crap necessary? You may not agree with the tone of the post, it certainly seems you don't, but can't you make the point without insulting y6, who said nothing to you to provoke the insult? No wonder this place doesn't handle political debate well, if we set the tone of the debate with insults immediately.
posted by jonson at 2:38 PM on March 28, 2003


but to think that the grudge they hold against us is stronger than the one they hold against Saddam is ridiculous.


Its ridiculous only if you think that the one resentment cancels or opposes the other. If you'd have bothered to read the links, you might come closer to understanding that many Iraqis want us to oust addam, and will then be willing to take up arms to oust US.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:40 PM on March 28, 2003


...to think that the grudge they hold against us is stronger than the one they hold against Saddam is ridiculous.

That's probably true now, but once Saddam is gone and the US is in charge, I'll bet there are quite a few very resentful folks over there...
posted by jacobsee at 2:42 PM on March 28, 2003


Ouch, The disappearing "S" strikes again.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:42 PM on March 28, 2003


I was congratulating him ;) Besides the post consisted of nothing more than an interview with some guy who happens to think that the Iraqis hate America. Now he is entitled to his opinion but where is his proof other than his Lebanese friend the architect that happens to agree with him ?

I won't even mention (ok I will) that Chris Dickey is Newsweeks Paris bureau chief... Frickin cheese eating surrender monkeys (now that's the line I've been waiting to use)
posted by zeoslap at 2:48 PM on March 28, 2003


I did read the article, and again ones mans opinion does not a fact make. It's all conjecture, nothing more, nothing less.
posted by zeoslap at 2:50 PM on March 28, 2003


"to think that the grudge they hold against us is stronger than the one they hold against Saddam is ridiculous."

Well, you might want to actually pay attention to what they're saying. As opposed to just assuming you know what they think. And I don't think anyone is suggesting that they hate the US worse than Saddam. The way I read it is that they will never forgive us and are getting ready to start defending their homeland.

"It's all conjecture, nothing more, nothing less."

Well, sure. As long as you ignore all those quotes and interviews. And this isn't the first time I've heard this, although I tended to discount it before. Anyone have other sources for this? Or evidence to the contray?
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:53 PM on March 28, 2003


It will be like every other country once we start spending billions in aide the populace will see opportunity for personal enrichment and think twice about biteing the hand that feeds it.
posted by stbalbach at 2:55 PM on March 28, 2003


I really think that nobody is in a position to know this. If it is true that the Iraqi populace lives in fear of dissent because secret Ba'ath spies are 'embedded' in their midst, and may harm them or their families, then everyone has to wear a constant outward appearance of support for Saddam, whether true or not. What that facade is masking can't be measured on a regional or national level until Saddam is gone - only then will we find out who is ready to attack the occupiers, who is ready to just get on with life, and who is thankful for the 'liberation'.
posted by kokogiak at 3:01 PM on March 28, 2003


Kanan Makiya, writing in The New Republic, thinks otherwise:
Do not believe any commentator who says that a rising surge of "nationalism" is preventing Iraqis from greeting U.S. and British troops in the streets with open arms. What is preventing them from rising up and taking over the streets of their cities is confusion about American intentions and fear of the murderous brown-shirt thugs known as the Fedayeen Saddam, who are leading the small-arms-fire attacks on American and British soldiers. The coalition forces have an urgent need to send clear and unmistakable signals to the people of Iraq that unlike in 1991, there is no turning back from the destruction of Saddam Hussein. And in order to do this effectively they must turn to the Iraqi opposition, which has so far been marginalized.
posted by claxton6 at 3:01 PM on March 28, 2003


zeoslap: where does it say that "the Iraqis hate America"? The word "hate" is used 3 times in the article: "  “I don’t hate the Americans,” says Mohamed Al-Alwani" "because the Iraqi people hate Saddam" & " The Iraqis do hate Saddam—but they do not love you".
The point of the article is that Iraqis have nothing against Americans per se, except when they're invading their country, so some of them will fight against them now, and some will wait for them to overthrow Hussein before they start resisting.
And Chris Dickey's current job asignment is relevant how?
Sloppy arguing, mon ami.

posted by signal at 3:01 PM on March 28, 2003


Interesting parallel: The Spanish-American War, particularly concerning the campaign in the Philippines, which lead to the Philippine-American War.
posted by linux at 3:01 PM on March 28, 2003


I was worried that Mr. zeoslap might be right with his "one man's opinion" smak-down. so I went and found a few more sources. Including one in Stars & Stripes.

Here, here, and here.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:04 PM on March 28, 2003


It's not as if we can send in Gallup to judge the mood. Anecdotal evidence of Iraqi sentiment is the best we can do for now. Sure, he quotes people who support his point. On the other hand, the administration has, to the best of my knowledge anyway, pointed only to the words of exiled Iraqi opposition leaders, living in Western countries, to show that the U.S. would be welcomed as liberators inside Iraq.

Just like anywhere else, the "will of the people" in Iraq is going to be messy, contradictory, nuanced and complex. When the regime falls, there's going to be interests that are aligned with the U.S., and there'll be ones that aren't. Personally, I think it'll be a mess. The government doesn't think so. I hope they're right.
posted by dragstroke at 3:07 PM on March 28, 2003


Uhh... The war is a week old. Give it some more time before you call it a clusterfuck.
posted by fried at 3:08 PM on March 28, 2003


Some Iraqi's probably do still harbor resentment towards us after we royally screwing them over last time but when the oil for food money actually begins to be spent on food and they aren't being made to fight at gunpoint anymore you have to figure they'll realise that we really are there to help them. If for no other reason than we want something ourselves.

I'm sure I can dig up plenty of stories about people welcoming the troops, at least as many as you can find disputing it, but at the end of the day when Saddam is dead and buried at least they'll be free to say they don't love us (revised from hate per signals comment).

The job assignment comment was just a bit of fun to indicate I wasn't sitting here getting red in the face about this, relax.
posted by zeoslap at 3:08 PM on March 28, 2003


"like every other country once we start spending billions in aide"

You mean like we did in Afghanistan? Or perhaps more appropriately Cuba and Iran? I put it to you stbalbach, who are these countries who have done an about-face once they started getting "billions" in US aid? Hmmmm???

"then everyone has to wear a constant outward appearance of support for Saddam"

Except those who don't live in Iraq. These men are going back into Iraq. They have nothing to fear from Saddam or the Fedayeen. At least not where they are now. Why are they going back?
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:16 PM on March 28, 2003


This article does some explaining of things been seeing in the news. Dogs being friendly to the soldiers. Thinking, most dogs are not nice to unfamiliar people especially with a gun in hand.

then everyone has to wear a constant outward appearance of support for Saddam, whether true or not.

More explanation on this here, its about the family line of blood.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:23 PM on March 28, 2003


"Give it some more time before you call it a clusterfuck."

Well, I always thought it was a clusterfuck. But I was thinking it was only a diplomatic and foreign policy CF. If we get mired in a guerilla war here like Russia did in Afghanistan, I think everyone will agree this is very bad indeed.

Here's the point - No matter what the situation looks like in a few months, the US badly overestimated the support we'd get from local Iraqis. Maybe now would be a good time to find out what the real situation is?

If common Iraqis are going to start taking up arms against US troops, I think we need to shift gears. More pointedly - I support the troops. If we're going to be fighting local guerillas I think we need to send more troops and support units over there ASAP.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:33 PM on March 28, 2003


Well, since we're trading anecdotes, here are stories that mention iraqis welcoming the coalition.

As with any issue, you can find people on all sides. I have no doubt some will hate us and others will welcome us. Extrapolating based on anecdotal evidence is a losing game. Just as the hawks shouldn't assume everyone would greet us with flowers, naysayers shouldn't assume that everyone will hate us and rise up against us.
posted by chris24 at 3:36 PM on March 28, 2003


Well I'm sure you've been thinking up the shit sandwich line up all week so congrats on finding a post to use it on.

I'm going to assume that you have the absolute minimum number of necessary braincells to sort of bang on the keyboard haphazardly as opposed to forming coherent thoughts to channel into posts because that sentence of yours is the most idiotically assumptive thing I've seen on this site in around three dedicated years of reading.

Couldn't you have at least googled a bit first? It's a line from Full Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick's astonishingly good war movie regarding Vietnam. "It's a giant shit sandwich and we're all going to have to take a bite."
posted by Ryvar at 3:48 PM on March 28, 2003


It's all conjecture, nothing more, nothing less.

No, it's journalism, the distillation of actual conversations with actual Iraqis. You may disagree with his conclusions, or say his sample was not representative, etc., but real people told him real things, and he presents their words so readers can still judge for themselves.

Conjecture is sitting on your butt in the United States, in front of a blue screen, offering opinions bereft of firsthand evidence.
posted by sacre_bleu at 3:48 PM on March 28, 2003


none of this matters. it is clear that it is bush's calculated plan to plunge the US into prolonged war and bloodshed, perhaps to justify the extermination of those who own the oil, perhaps to facilitate the elimination of every bit of ground gained by liberalism in the past half century and establish a repressive theocracy in the name of jesus, perhaps he's simply a goddam bloodthirsty sociopath. it no longer matters. bush and company must go.
posted by quonsar at 3:51 PM on March 28, 2003


They have nothing to fear from Saddam or the Fedayeen. At least not where they are now. Why are they going back?
Excellent point y6 - and a scary one too. I guess I'm naievely hoping it has more to do with tribalism (in a broad sense) and bravado/machismo/honor than it does with an earnest desire to go in and harm US soldiers. (on reviewing, that does sound very naieve of me indeed).
posted by kokogiak at 3:52 PM on March 28, 2003


If we're going to be fighting local guerillas I think we need to send more troops and support units over there ASAP.

Not to be overtly argumentative, but isn't that exactly what Johnson and Nixon did to react to the growing threat from the Viet Cong?Overwhelming occupation force still equals occupation force. Unlike Vietnam, which had lots of aid from China, Iraq will fall. But that won't stop the endless flood of suicide bombers, partisans, and fed-up criminals from taking pot-shots at the US in the future.

I'm amazed by those in this thread and others, who believe that happy smiling citizens, greeting liberators with open arms, is some kind of innoculation against the angry, vicious types that see us as the enemy.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:52 PM on March 28, 2003


Nonsense.

History or Hysteria?
Our vulture pundits regurgitate rumor and buzz.

Victor Davis Hanson's take on the subject.
posted by hama7 at 3:53 PM on March 28, 2003


"naysayers shouldn't assume that everyone will hate us and rise up against us."

1) While I think the war was a very bad idea, now that we're this "naysayer" thinks we should do whatever we need to to ensure victory. I sincerely hope our troops kick ass in Iraq, get the job done, and come home safe.

2) I think it would be silly to think that everyone will rise up against us. However, what if 20% rise up against us? How long will we tolerate the level of resistance Israel has to endure from the Palestinians? If a significant number of Iraqis are shooting at Americans, and Americans are killing them all, how long will it take for Iraqis to start a significant terrorist movement on US soil? Think could get ugly fast.

Just conjecture of course, I admit. But since things aren't working as planned, it might be time to start thinking about what the real deal is.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:53 PM on March 28, 2003


My vote goes to it being a week old clusterf**k. National pride can motivate people to go to extraordinary lengths. And as for having to spend billions to buy friends, has it really come down to that? I hope not. "to think that the grudge they hold against us is stronger than the one they hold against Saddam is ridiculous." Have you actually been to Iraq and gotten to know a representative slice of the population? Or is that just an uniformed opinion masquerading as a fact? Just curious, but gotta go now to eat some French fries.
posted by michaelonfs at 3:54 PM on March 28, 2003


Chaos in the Middle East is not the Bush hawks' nightmare scenario--it's their plan.

Joshua Micah Marshall suggests a reason the White House may seem oddly unconcerned about the Iraq invasion sparking other tension throughout the Middle East.

It will only help the U.S. commit to going all the way, he posits.
posted by sacre_bleu at 3:58 PM on March 28, 2003


"it no longer matters. bush and company must go."

Well yeah. Of course. I think everyone here is in agreement about that. Does anyone seriously think Bush should get reelected? I'd tend to think the religious right might vote for him, but on his watch "One nation under God" was declared unconstitutional. The boy is toast.

"but isn't that exactly what Johnson and Nixon did to react to the growing threat from the Viet Cong?"

Actually I'm thinking of support. Everyone is saying our supply lines are getting stretched thin already. Let's get the right forces in place so that this doesn't turn into Somalia. Right?
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:03 PM on March 28, 2003


Okay, hama7, I just read that little screed you posted, and it seems that Mr. Hanson has no relevance in this discussion. Whoopin' Iraq's ass (WooHoo!) has nothing to do with whether or not we are creating a bigger monster for the future. And what was with the argument against increased terror attacks? His argument: "We haven't seen any yet, so we shouldn't worry"? . Isn't that exactly what he argued? This from the same side that tries to incite our anger by telling us that Iraqis fight unfairly (Execute prisoners, torture people, etc.) All likely true, but it doesn't stand at all against simple Iraqi patriots doing their duty by expunging the American invaders. There will be those that are pissed of, and they will act...
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:12 PM on March 28, 2003


"One nation under God" was declared unconstitutional.

Thought there was a follow up on this a few months back. Anyone remember?
posted by thomcatspike at 4:16 PM on March 28, 2003


Actually hama, I thought the Hanson article was useful at least refute the "clusterfuckers." Good Christ, what kind of land-speed record does the U.S. Army have to break to impress some people?
posted by Ty Webb at 4:29 PM on March 28, 2003


Y6, I was pointing out the two extremes of opinion on the issue, not implying that one was your opinion. As my post makes clear, I think the reality will be that we have some percentage of each. I think the percentage will be much lower than 20% when all is said and done, but any percentage can be dangerous and poisonous to our interests. That's why we need to win the war to rid the people of Saddam, help them set up a stable government, and get the hell out of their business as soon as we can.
posted by chris24 at 4:33 PM on March 28, 2003


What? You mean to say that Iraqis aren't all they same? They don't all have similar opinions? Wow! You mean, they're actually human!?? Allah forbid! So we can't, like, stereotype them and make blanket assumptions about what direction they're all going to go? They'll each make up their own individual minds and suffer the consequences of their actions? Some will want American interests over Saddam and others will choose Saddam as the lesser evil? Say it ain't so, ma! Say it ain't so!

"It sounds like they'll keep fighting us long after Saddam and his army are gone..."

Well. Duh! Did the Shrub Administration honestly believe if we just waltzed in there like cartoon characters and bonked Baddy Hussein on the noggin that the Iraqi people would grovel and say in unison: "We for one welcome our new democratic overlords!"

...Does anyone else miss Bill Maher?
posted by ZachsMind at 4:42 PM on March 28, 2003


I still watch Bill Maher on HBO.
posted by entropy at 5:04 PM on March 28, 2003


Some Iraqi's probably do still harbor resentment towards us after we royally screwing them over last time but when the oil for food money actually begins to be spent on food and they aren't being made to fight at gunpoint anymore you have to figure they'll realise that we really are there to help them.

Well the problem is that our "help" does not always align to local ideas of liberation. A good history lesson reveals that the enemy of an enemy is not necessarily a friend. Certainly, we might do what we did for Germany, Itally, an Japan. More likely what we will end up with is another Vietnam in which the British rewarded freedom fighters by rearming Japanese soldiers to defend the French Colonial government from a local democracy. Another Guatamalia in which we overthrew a legally elected reformer to promote business interests. American policy was not particularly kind to the populist Ncaraguan revolution that overthrew the Somoza dynasty supported by the United States in spite of repeated political assassinations. Or perhaps they recognize the history of the U.S. attempt at statebuilding in Iran after WWII. Or they remember that U.S. aid to Saddam Hussein during the 80s after it was widely suspected that he enginered his dictatorship through a series of assissinations helped his to solidify his power base. Perhaps they are aware of the U.S. role in Pinochet's coup and dictatorship replacing an elected president.

Before this is all dismissed as past history, let us remember that three of the people responsible for supporting Latin American terrorism, Kissinger, Abrams and Poindexter, aparently have the ear of the president.

So a big question for the "liberators" here. What happens if one of the first actions of the democratic, liberated government of Iraq is to vote to expell the United States?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:17 PM on March 28, 2003


Iraqfilter
posted by Beholder at 5:39 PM on March 28, 2003


"What happens if one of the first actions of the democratic, liberated government of Iraq is to vote to expell the United States?"

Well, keep in mind that we've already told the UN that they aren't allowed to help establish a new administration in Iraq. So we get to set up the liberated government. Something tells me we won't be inviting folks who want the US out to participate.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:39 PM on March 28, 2003


1. Saddam may well have been killed in the first night's surprise attack (March 20).
2. Even if he wasn't killed, Iraqi command and control was no doubt "decapitated" (March 22).
3. Umm Qasr has been taken (March 22).
4. Most Iraqis soldiers will not fight for Saddam and instead are surrendering in droves (March 22).
5. Iraqi citizens are greeting Americans as liberators (March 22).
6. An entire division of 8,000 Iraqi soldiers surrendered en masse near Basra (March 23).
7. Several Scud missiles, banned weapons, have been launched against U.S. forces in Kuwait (March 23).
8. Saddam's Fedayeen militia are few in number and do not pose a serious threat (March 23).
9. Basra has been taken (March 23).
10. Umm Qasr has been taken (March 23).
11. A captured chemical plant likely produced chemical weapons (March 23).
12. Nassiriya has been taken (March 23).
13. Umm Qasr has been taken (March 24).
14. The Iraqi government faces a "major rebellion" of anti-Saddam citizens in Basra (March 24).
15. A convoy of 1,000 Iraqi vehicles and Republican Guards are speeding south from Baghdad to engage U.S. troops (March 25).
15 Stories They've Already Bungled
posted by y2karl at 6:16 PM on March 28, 2003


Wow. That embedded reporters idea works great.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:36 PM on March 28, 2003


OT:

Can anyone site the source for the rumor of the U.S. authorization of Iraq to invade Kuwait back when Bush Sr. was in office?

I kind of need it so I won't look like a nut-case to my boss on Monday.
posted by velacroix at 7:36 PM on March 28, 2003


There are three main problems in the future:

1) Iraqi troops will be able to inflict considerable damage on US troops in urban warfare, or, alternatively, the US will start carpet-bombing Iraq's cities or putting them under siege, leading to massive civilian suffering (in the latter case, less obvious and less visible).

2) Saddam will use the WMD he probably possesses against US troops or the US mainland (think biological, not chemical for real horror scenarios). He will do so the moment he thinks all other options have been exhausted.

3) Post-war Iraq will degrade into a state of permanent civil/guerilla war and the people will be much worse off than under Saddam Hussein.

All the talk about how big a threat Saddam is could easily turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy the moment he sees his life coming to an end. If he's not an idiot, he already has agents in the US. People who truly love him, just like the Sep. 11 hijackers believed to truly do the work of their God and to arrive in heaven for doing it. They might even act prematurely if they think their Great Leader is in danger ..

Lastly, another propehcy could also be fulfilled through this war, namely that of increased terrorism. A long time military presence of the US in the region, in addition to the one they already have in Saudi Arabia, will lead many Islamic fundamentalists to thinking about a "final solution" for the American problem. Again, choose your favorite horror scenario.

Of course, things don't have to come this way. A collapse of the regime is still possible, and if the war does not last too long, resistance against an initial US occupation will not be too severe. However, if the US pull their standard routine of setting up an unstable pseudo democratic client state that quickly devolves into yet another military dictatorship, nothing will be gained for the Iraqi people (and much is already lost).

This war was an idiotic strategic decision unless the goal was to create instability in the region. If the goal was to take out Saddam, it should have been done using inspector-spies. Saddam is good at hiding. The only thing we can count on now is luck. A heart attack is probably more likely than a lucky strike.
posted by Eloquence at 7:39 PM on March 28, 2003


"Can anyone site the source for the rumor of the U.S. authorization of Iraq to invade Kuwait back when Bush Sr. was in office?"

You'd be talking about April Glaspie, right?

"In November 1992, Iraq's former deputy prime minister, Tarik Aziz, gave Glaspie some vindication. He said she had not given Iraq a green light. "She just listened and made general comments," he told USA Today. "We knew the United States would have a strong reaction.""

source 2

Q: In April, what was your assessment of what the Americans would do--what was April Glaspie saying?

Aziz: She didn't tell us anything strange. She didn't tell us in the sense that we concluded that the Americans will not retaliate. That was nonsense you see. It was nonsense to think that the Americans would not attack us. In the early hours of the 2nd of August, the whole apparatus of the leadership took precautions for an American speedy immediate retaliation.


Although, it should be noted that the expectations were that Iraq would just invade a few areas of Kuwait, not all of Kuwait.
posted by RobbieFal at 8:01 PM on March 28, 2003


Meanwhile, in Afghanistan...
posted by homunculus at 8:25 PM on March 28, 2003


"the U.S. authorization of Iraq to invade Kuwait"

No.

We never gave them authorization or permission. Someone fairly low level in the state department screwed up. She found out Saddam was going to move troops into Kuwait and she played the "hear no evil" thing.

So if you define "we" as some bored diplomat who probably hadn't had enough sleep, then the best you can say is that we didn't warn them not to.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:09 PM on March 28, 2003


7. Several Scud missiles, banned weapons, have been launched against U.S. forces in Kuwait (March 23).
--y2karl

Hasn't this been reported with evidence since the war began? In fact just today wasn't there was Scud that landed in the sea just short of Kuwait City?
posted by Karl at 10:27 PM on March 28, 2003


To wit
posted by Karl at 10:31 PM on March 28, 2003


The article you linked says the missle was a Silkworm. Not a Scud. I don't think Silkworms were on the banned list. Anyone?
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:39 PM on March 28, 2003


(Initial stories had said "Scud", then realized the article said Silkworn. Any contrasting stories floating around out there?)
posted by Karl at 10:51 PM on March 28, 2003


The missile that hit Kuwait was a Silkworm. CNN's "devil doc" Sanjay Gupta actually picked up a piece of the missile casing which had Chinese lettering on it. He showed the piece on CNN and the Chinese characters were easy to discern.

The Silkworm is an anti-ship missile that has a max range of c. 95 km. It flies low with a flat trajectory to hit its intended marine vessel targets. Tonight's missile was not detected by radar, which is consistent with a "low flier" (c. 25m) rather than a SCUD. The Patriot II's radar threat horizon is much higher than that.

And as for on-going "clusteration" in Mesopotamia, future historians will know it as "Operation Iraqi Fuq'p."
posted by rdone at 11:44 PM on March 28, 2003


I always figured it would be some kind of clusterfuck, because, frankly, that was what the facts supported. The problem was that so many people ignored the facts.

Consider Salam Pax for a second... here's a person who is obviously far more in touch with Westerners than others -- he's obviously a pacifist, and yet he has written over and over that as much as he hates his own government, he is also angry with the US for invading his country, killing his people, causing so much misery... and his writing has clearly reflected that a huge amount of Iraqis are very nationalistic -- they don't need to support Saddam to oppose the US... and they've all been armed.

Frankly, Salam Pax wasn't the only Iraqi saying this. Lots of others have too. The US press tended to view these personal statements by Iraqis as merely propaganda, however, never once considering what Americans would do or how they would feel if the shoe was on the other foot.

Stalin butchered more of his own people than the number that died in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, millions upon millions of his oppressed masses were willing to die for mother Russia.

Really, considering the facts, how could anyone possibly think that things would be any better than in Afghanistan, where our soldiers routinely face rocket attacks and only survive these kinds of attacks because they hunker down in their fortresses and don't really project control over the country at large -- certainly not like the US would like to do in Iraq.

How do you keep the Iraqis pacified and prevent them from killing each other? Do you put a US soldier on every street corner? If you do that, aren't you providing a whole lot of targets, not only for Iraqi nationalists and Saddam loyalists, but also for *any* terrorist group that infiltrates Iraq?

Really, the best we could reasonably hope for (as far as low US casualties) is the downfall of Saddam's regime, with our troops hunkered down, and, as a result, not really projecting any real control outside of the major cities. We'd get attacked regularly and would probably lose a few soldiers every month, while large portions of Iraq would be somewhat chaotic.

That's the low casualty "solution". The high one is literally putting our soldiers out there in the streets to exert control. I suspect we may see something that looks at first like this solution, but that gradually evolves into hunkering down, losing some control over Iraq in the process. By any standard, a pyrrhic victory with a long, costly occupation.

BTW - why didn't anyone supply a link to where people can listen to the interview with Christopher Dickey?
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:54 PM on March 28, 2003


Frickin cheese eating surrender monkeys

LOL. At least this put a smile on my face. Thanks.
posted by Juicylicious at 7:39 AM on March 29, 2003


Good Christ, what kind of land-speed record does the U.S. Army have to break to impress some people?

The "land-speed records" were set by driving across open undefended desert. I already knew our tanks can go real fast (for tanks, anyway).
posted by kirkaracha at 7:39 AM on March 29, 2003


There are a number of different issues here. But there are good reasons to believe both that many Iraqis will welcome the humanitarian aid that will flow after the war and benefit from the jobs, money and business opportunities that will come with reconstruction; and that some Iraqis will continue to resist the western occupiers long after Saddam is out of the picture.

Where the balance tips will depend on many, many things -- how long the war lasts, how destructive it is, how many Iraqis are killed, how much money comes in (and how fast), and whether Iraqis see the occupying force as American or international (i.e., through the U.N.). And that's the question -- not whether there will be either appreciation or resentment, but which response will predominate.
posted by mattpfeff at 8:06 AM on March 29, 2003


1984 Revisited...
The pictures of Sadaam Hussein whom people hailed in the beginning with great hope everywhere. Sadaam Hussein with his hand outstretched. Sadaam Hussein firing his rifle. Sadaam Hussein in his Arab Headdress. Sadaam Hussein in his classic 30 year old picture - one or more of these four pictures seemed to be everywhere on walls, in the middle of the road, in homes, as statues - he was everywhere!

All seeing, all knowing, all encompassing.
Big Brother is watching...

JB
posted by JB71 at 8:53 AM on March 29, 2003


In fact just today wasn't there was Scud that landed in the sea just short of Kuwait City?

It was a Silkworm, Osama's little helper.
posted by y2karl at 9:24 AM on March 29, 2003


and the presidents advisors had us believing the war in iraq was going to be a "Cakewalk".

tell that to 3rd infantry.


shame on bush and shame on his chickenhawk advisors.
posted by specialk420 at 9:50 AM on March 29, 2003


tell that to 3rd infantry.

There's no need to worry about the 3rd Infantry with President Bush personally leading them into battle.
posted by homunculus at 10:40 AM on March 29, 2003


You know, insomnia_lj, I've been sort of thinking about the Soviet analogy for some time. The difference being that the average Soviet citizen at the time was screwed no matter who won. But you're right, in that some of those who were most oppressed by the Stalin regime fought damned hard - and successfully - for "Mother Russia." We shouldn't be surprised, then, if the same thing happens here.
posted by kgasmart at 12:26 PM on March 29, 2003


Thanks for the links, RobbieFal.
posted by velacroix at 12:44 PM on March 29, 2003


The Scud is a specific type of Russian-origin ballistic missile, not a generic term for Iraqi missile technology. (It's actually a code word that was assigned by NATO, like the "Yankee" class submarine or the "Backfire" bomber.) The hundreds, if not thousands, of Scuds which were directly provided to Iraq by the Soviet Union were used either in the Iran-Iraq War or the Gulf War. It has long been suspected that as many as 150 survived, but they would have to have been maintained in tip-top condition to remain operational this long, which probably explains why they haven't been used.

Iraq does have other types of missiles, developed -- especially after sanctions -- so that they would have an indigenous capability, notably the al-Samoud, which was the source of the contretemps about banned missiles last month. It's derived from the Soviet SA-2 design, popular in the third world as a theater missile. A handful were publicly destroyed by Iraq, but they retained the majority and it would be unsurprising if they were used. They were banned under the UN resolutions limiting Iraq to a 150km range limit on its weapons systems. Technically an al-Samoud attack would not be a Scud attack, but it would be an attack with an illegal weapon.

Presumably analysts have determined which types of missile have been hitting Kuwait or been destroyed by Patriots (partly to verify the capability of that anti-missile system), but this hasn't to my knowledge been shared. If there were any identified as al-Samouds, I'm surprised they haven't made a big deal out of it; so perhaps they were just shorter-range weapons.

The Silkworm, which is actually more of a rocket-propelled demi-cruise missile, may actually have been fired hoping it would home in on American shipping assets in the area of the Gulf between the Faw peninsula and Kuwait City. Or maybe it was just a potshot aimed at the hated capital. It's still an attack, but not with an illegal weapon or a Scud. Nevertheless I would still expect to hear "Scud alert" due to the media memory implanted during the Gulf War.
posted by dhartung at 1:13 PM on March 29, 2003


An architect of the U.S. "shock and awe" bombing campaign against Iraq said on Friday that American and UK credibility in administering peace in post-war Iraq would be undermined if no chemical weapons were found.
posted by homunculus at 2:21 PM on March 29, 2003


How war distracts from outlandish Bush policies
posted by homunculus at 2:24 PM on March 29, 2003


Ah good, here's some heartwarming news: Iraqi civilians feed hungry US marines.
posted by homunculus at 3:10 PM on March 29, 2003


How does Shock and Awe differ from Blitzkrieg?
posted by thirteen at 3:43 PM on March 29, 2003


We should have helped foment a revolution from within, led by Iraqis for Iraqis, with the world offering financial and moral support. Keep that in mind as Wolfowitz et al turn their sights on Iran, where 90% of the population would love to get rid of the ayatollahs who have veto power over all new laws.

Do we really need an Iraq repeat, with dead U.S. teenagers on Arab satellite televison, in Iran, a country that already has a large pro-democracy movement?

I recently attended a talk by Jack DuVall, a former Air Force counterintelligence officer and co-producer of "A Force More Powerful," a documentary series and book about civilian uprisings that have overthrown even the most extreme dictators. His analysis of the step-by-step process necessary was gripping and very, very convincing. It can be done. It could have been done in Iraq.
posted by mediareport at 8:18 PM on March 29, 2003


thirteen, Blitzkrieg is more about the nascent strategy now labeled maneuver warfare, or Third Generation Warfare, which was an advance over older attrition-oriented approaches (which isn't to say it hadn't been independently developed by military geniuses long before) such as attrition warfare. Shock and Awe, on the other hand, is much more closely related to the current theory of effects-based operations, and is a result of applying Fourth Generation Warfare concepts to a Third Generation force structure. The goal of Maneuver Warfare is to use speed and technological superiority to neutralize enemy forces with a minimum of fighting. The goal of Effects Based Operations is to quickly achieve a political solution while minimizing force-to-force fighting. Obviously, there can be overlap among these.
posted by dhartung at 7:16 AM on March 30, 2003


That all sounds mighty fancy, dhartung, but to me it's just murder and destruction.
posted by muckster at 10:42 AM on March 30, 2003


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