No war goes off without a hitch or is entirely clear to its commanders, fog and whatnot. But, four days in and we’re off to a rocky start I’d say. I’m sure the pro-wars (or anti-peace and security as I like to call them… it really gets their goat) can cull together a list of articles showing the war is proceeding famously. But, here is a grimmer picture, for you prickly realist types.
Anyone who thinks a war will be bloodless is a fool.
On the other hand, we also have plenty of good news. For one thing, contrary to the worst fears of everyone, the southern oil fields have been captured largely intact. That’s a HUGE thing. Having 800 oil wells burning in southern Iraq would have been a gigantic problem.
But let’s be clear on the big picture - the coalition is almost at Baghdad after only three days of warfare, and it has control over the entire southern portion of Iraq (albeit with pockets of resistance). It has achieved all this with less than 50 casualties, the majority of which are friendly fire.
I don’t know how you could possibly have expected it to be better than this. I know I certainly didn’t.
That said, there are some worrying developments. The Iraqi strategy appears to be to fade into the population and wage a guerilla war. That’s a very bad sign. It’s also why the coalition has chosen not to enter any of the cities it controls. There have only been a couple of thousand of Iraqi surrenders, which means there could be tens of thousands of soldiers hiding in the cities.
If that’s the case, then there will be a new strategy, I suspect: Go for Baghdad rapidly, stay out of all the other cities, and then try to kill the leadership and force the rest of the army to stop fighting.
The worrying part of that is that as long as Saddam’s forces control the interior of the cities, they are in a position to launch reprisals against the families of commanders who surrender. That’s going to make it harder for coalition forces to subdue Baghdad.
The armed forces United States and the United Kingdom are facing a challenge without precedent. Any fatality is seen as a defeat. At Iwo Jima in 1945, the United States suffered 6,800 deaths in a battle which we won. Now, if 12 people are killed in a battle - no matter how much damage was inflicted on the enemy, no matter how much ground is gained, it is regarded by some as a failure.
Not because I think it was unfair, but because I singled Sam out, and that really wasn’t my point.
When I prepared to respond to the first quote, I was going to simply link the OP of the “Is this war almost over?” thread, to highlight many of the comments there from two days ago. While reviewing the thread, I saw Sam’s comment, and couldn’t resist.
It was cheap shot, I regret that.
But my point stands. Seems many pro-war folks thought this would go much smoother, just two days ago.
We’re what, half way to Baghdad? Took four days, and we just started to run into resistance yesterday. And now we are going to be in the Burbs by tomorrow (which it already is, there)?
No, it’s going to take a few more days, some more casualties, and plenty of fodder for GD.
And btw Sam, I agree with much of your first post in this thread. But I am particularly concerned with the policy to bypass cities like Basra. Leaving the regime in control of the cities seems the antithesis of liberation.
If it takes awhile to conquer Baghdad (as you now seem to think), how much suffering will the citizens of Basra (and other cities) have to endure, because we don’t have the [something] to press for liberation in those cities?
[sub]And yes, the predition thread will be fun in near future.[/sub]
Good thing the French aren’t in it with us, or they would have surrendered by now.
Seriously, the OP is more than a trifle silly. In three days, we have conquered half the country, taken some tens of thousands of prisoners, and suffered a handful of casualties. If we had suffered no casualties, the doves would have argued that we are big bullies. If we suffered a lot of casualties, they would have said we were foolish for fighting.
We can’t win with some people. Best we just concentrate on doing so in Iraq.
PS - I hope sincerely the French, Germans, and Russians are frozen out of oil contracts in Iraq altogether. If they won’t help free the country, they best not expect to benefit from the US/UK bearing the costs.
I’ll bet the coalition has troops near Baghdad now. There are probably special forces and intelligence operatives in numbers directing the air strikes and working with the opposition. If I had a cite CENTCOM would kill me. If they are really keeping us informed about all the ground operations, someone in the Pentagon needs to reconsider the strategy. Presumably, there are a number of units we just don’t know much about.
I would say that the best-case scenario of the regime crumbling in the first few days hasn’t come to pass. The regime seems to be more resilient than some expected.
Particularly worrying are the pockets of resistance in the South. These troops are probably in a position to surrender to the Americans safely but are still fighting. That seems to indicate that there is a hard core of loyalists who are prepared to fight even if most Iraqi soldiers are not.
If you had 50,000 hard-core loyalists ready to fight in Baghdad along with thousands of guerilla forces attacking soft targets behind American lines that could cause serious problems. The problem is that victory is not sufficient; it has to be won as quickly and surgically as possible. Even a few weeks of heavy street-fighting in Baghdad could be a political disaster.
That said there have been some good signs as well; for instance entire Iraqi divisions surrendering and key bridges being captured intact. Overall I would say that there haven’t been any really serious setbacks so far but there are several ominous signs of possible future setbacks.
BTW if you want an informed and candid analysis of the war day by day check out: www.dailykos.com
He is against the war but he clearly knows what he is talking about militarily. It’s far better than most of the blather in the mass media.
** cainxinth:** Why are you on about friendly fire so much? Are you not aware that a war zone is a dangerous place? I wonder if you know that the majority of casualties in the Gulf War were from friendly fire?
The vastly increased lethality of coalition weaponry is a bit of a double-edged sword. Mistakes happen, and because the weapons are so good, the mistakes are often lethal. Everyone who understands the modern battlefield expected lots of friendly fire casualties.
The biggest worry I have right now is that the coalition has not been able to secure the ports at Basra. Once war starts, food stops moving through a country. That can lead to a humanitarian disaster - in most wars, more people starve to death or die from disease than are killed in combat. So the U.S. had the plan to capture Basra early, and then bring in huge amounts of humanitarian aid through the deep water port there, and distribute it through the various regions as they occupy them.
Without Basra, that job is going to get very difficult, and if they don’t take it soon I imagine they’ll have to try and bring humanitarian aid in overland through Kuwait.
The other disappointment with respect to Basra is that the people there hate Saddam. They revolted after the first Gulf War, and Saddam sent troops into the city and killed thousands of people. So Basra was seen as being a very valuable public relations tool. The coalition wanted to capture it early and then bring in lots of media crews to go through the population and watch the cheers welcoming the coalition, and hear stories of Saddam’s brutality.
The coalition very much could use an early propaganda victory to help turn the Arab street and calm down protests at home.
Let me say a few things about this. This is a major military operation across substantial pieces of territory. What has been accomplished so far is remarkable. I’m not sure it is unprecedented but is remarkable. These things don’t happen without misadventures, especially when much of it is going on in the dark. It is simply unreasonable to think it will happen without glitches and friction that cost lives.
I am afraid that some posters here are wearing their heart on their sleeve. Clearly the 3d ID and the 1st Marine and the follow-up combat and combat support forces are not now in position to mount an assault on Baghdad. Equally, the loss of soldiers, Marines and aircrews at the level we have been told of so far is no significant set back to the invasion. To think that this is any more than a good start is just as unreasonable and self deluding as thinking that the thing is not going well and teetering on the edge of catastrophe.
The real show will not begin, I expect, until the armor-infantry force closes on Baghdad. Meanwhile I think that I would not take any information–from the embedded reporters, from military briefings, from Iraqi state TV, from the Arab TV, or from anyone else, myself included-- without adding a liberal measure of salt.