Sunday, May 15, 2005

Iraq war lessons

iraq
No bullshit here Patrick Coburn reports quite simply about Iraq: "There is no doubt that the US has failed to win the war."

Not to be missed tidbits:

Ironically, the extent of US failure to control Iraq is masked by the fact that it is too dangerous for the foreign media to venture out of central Baghdad. Some have retreated to the supposed safety of the Green Zone. Mr Bush can claim that no news is good news, though in fact the precise opposite is true. . . .

From the start, there was something dysfunctional about the American armed forces. They could not adapt themselves to Iraq. Their massive firepower meant they won any set-piece battle, but it also meant that they accidentally killed so many Iraqi civilians that they were the recruiting sergeants of the resistance. . . .

The US war machine was over-armed. I once saw a unit trying to restore order at a petrol station where there was a fist fight between Iraqi drivers over queue-jumping (given that people sometimes sleep two nights in their cars waiting to fill a tank, tempers were understandably frayed). In one corner was a massive howitzer, its barrel capable of hurling a shell 30km, which the soldiers had brought along for this minor policing exercise. . . .

The US army was designed to fight a high-technology blitzkrieg, but not much else. . . . The army acts as a sort of fire brigade, briefly effective in dousing the flames, but always moving on before they are fully extinguished.


All of us who protested the war before the Bush regime invaded knew it was morally wrong, but I don't think many of us believed the US would actually fail to prevail for two years.

There are a couple of simple lessons in this, lessons so simple it is easy to miss them. For one thing, bad as events may be, they are never over until they are over. And there are often forces, and unexpected constellations of forces, that can change outcomes that appear inevitable. This is a more complex world than we ever completely take in, even when we strive mightily to make ourselves knowledgeable.

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