Tuesday, October 12, 2004
How did Iraq turn into such a quagmire? According to the Duelfer report it happened because Saddam Hussein, unlike us, had a plan. And his plan worked:
Bush portrayed the insurgency as an accidental consequence of a war plan that worked too well. Last week, however, the Iraqi survey report declared a guerrilla insurgency is exactly what Hussein envisioned. The Iraq Survey Group, a 1,500-member team created by the director of the CIA to search for weapons of mass destruction, has been on the ground in Iraq since the toppling of Hussein's regime.SIDEBAR: If you haven't already followed the Atrios link, visit A Tiny Revolution, where Jonathan Schwarz has transcribed a portion of a speech Seymour Hersh gave last Friday in Berkeley. Hersh had just received a call from a platoon commander whose men had befriended the Iraqis working as guards at a local granary:
''Saddam believed that the Iraqi people would not stand to be occupied or conquered by the United States and would resist -- leading to an insurgency," said the 1,000-page report by chief weapons inspector Charles A. Duelfer. ''Saddam said he expected the war to evolve from traditional warfare to insurgency" . . . .
The report said that from August 2002 to January 2003 Iraqi commanders across the country were ordered to hide weapons in the countryside. An index to the report says that a branch of Iraqi intelligence trained fighters from Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Lebanese, and Sudan in explosives and marksmanship at Salman Pak, near Baghdad.
Indeed, intelligence officials said that instead of reading up on tank warfare, Hussein and some of his top generals are believed to have been boning up on books penned by Vietnamese communists on guerrilla warfare tactics . . . .
''All the after-action reports are pointing to the fact that we were postured for the wrong type of adversary," said Loren Thompson, a defense expert at the conservative Lexington Institution in Arlington, Va. ''We were looking for nuclear weapons and conventional formations, and the enemy was planning for elusive and unconventional operations."
He added: ''What looked initially like a big conventional victory looks like a military challenge for which we have no good response. This is really a serious problem because the whole world can see the pattern of Vietnam and Somalia in Iraq now."
According to retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Krepinevich, an expert in counterinsurgency, ''good strategic planners look at not only the rosy scenario but some of the darker ones that we are now being confronted with in Iraq."
But in the end, he said, the full-blown insurgency is probably less a result of Iraqi planning and ''more our missteps."
They were a couple weeks together, they knew each other. So orders came down from the generals in Baghdad, we want to clear the village, like in Samarra. And as he told the story, another platoon from his company came and executed all the guards, as his people were screaming, stop. And he said they just shot them one by one. He went nuts, and his soldiers went nuts. And he's hysterical. He's totally hysterical. And he went to the captain. He was a lieutenant, he went to the company captain. And the company captain said, "No, you don't understand. That's a kill. We got thirty-six insurgents."
You read those stories where the Americans, we take a city, we had a combat, a hundred and fifteen insurgents are killed. You read those stories. It's shades of Vietnam again, folks, body counts...
You know what I told him? I said, fella, I said: you've complained to the captain. He knows you think they committed murder. Your troops know their fellow soldiers committed murder. Shut up. Just shut up. Get through your tour and just shut up. You're going to get a bullet in the back. You don't need that. And that's where we are with this war.