I have always said that in order to win in Iraq the US would have to
engage in urban combat, and if any substantial number of Saddam's
followers hold out, that will be a very deadly conflict. Events bear me
out. The continued fight in Nasiriya, Umm Qadr, and Basra, provide a
foretaste of much more intense fighting, perhaps block by block in
Baghdad. The US might win, but only by destroying the city, engendering
gigantic international revulsion, making the Russian destruction of
Grozny, Chechnya seem mild by comparison.
This was evident from the start. Saddam has been in power for thirty
years, and despite the one-man nature of his rule, he has governed
through a well-organized , militarized bureaucracy and the Ba'ath party.
Those who were part of this hierarchy had many privileges and certainly
would lose all under the US -sponsored replacement regime.
("de-Ba'athification" is one of the declared goals of the US's
post-Saddam program) So it is clear there will be a bitterly prolonged
guerilla campaign against US occupiers, a largely urban struggle at
that. It is evident by now that with all its high-tech weaponry, the US
military still has no special, clever means of winning such a conflict.
Unlike the situation in Afghanistan, where the US drew on warlords for
the actual occupation force in the cities, and where the Taliban ,
having only recently and shakily gained power over just some of the
country, had little effective means of mobilizing resistance, in Iraq
U.S soldiers by themselves will have to fight the well-entrenched Saddam
supporters. Can there be any doubt by now what a devastating conflict
this will be? Since it is quite evident our military cannot accept a
high number of casualties, the only possible choice is utter destruction
of Baghdad and perhaps other cities, resembling the US response to the
"Viet Cong" takeover of Hue in the Tet offensive — obliterating the
The part of the US public that has backed the war did so in near-total
ignorance of the sort of campaign required. Is there any chance that
with news of the ongoing battles, people and politicians can be gotten
to rethink? Now, soon?
I think that rather than simply demonstrate against the war, we who
oppose it need to find some better way to reach the mild supporters of
it and make clear to them just what a bloodbath they have signed onto.
Here are some steps that occur to me:
1. Everyone good at writing should restate these arguments or better
them in your own words and send the results not only to your friends on
the fence, but to any media outlets you can think of, and to any
reporters , politicians etc. that you happen to know
2. Spread this call over the Internet.
3. Call into talk radio programs, etc. with these dire predictions, and
challenge government supporters to give good reasons why this is not a
4. Call for an immediate cease fire before more lives are lost.
5. Spend time trying to come up with even stronger proposals for
spreading the alarm.
Michael H. Goldhaber