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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Wednesday | June 11, 2003


Official: U.S. not ready for Iraq chaos

Rumsfeld, traveling in Europe, offered a sobering assessment of the continued attacks against American troops: "Do I think it's going to disappear in the next month or two or three? No. Will it disappear when some two or three divisions of coalition forces arrive in the country? No."

A soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division was killed Tuesday when an arms-collection checkpoint in Baghdad was attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade. Since Baghdad fell two months ago, 44 American troops have died, 12 from hostile fire.

The unsettled situation has forced the Defense Department to extend indefinitely the stay of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which was scheduled to come home this summer.

Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said last week that senior U.S. commanders did not fully consider the potential for mayhem. "Looting wasn't taken into military consideration. I'm not sure it was on anybody's screen," Blount said.

The Pentagon has about 150,000 troops in Iraq, mostly Army soldiers. Collins predicted that it would require three to four divisions about 60,000 to 80,000 troops to maintain law and order long-term. Collins was optimistic that U.S. allies could provide up to three-quarters of those troops.

Military analysts doubt allies would produce that many troops. Even if they did, using a patchwork force would be a "bad idea," said Andrew Bacevich, a military analyst at Boston University.

"It would be OK if you were just babysitting," Bacevich said. "The truth is, however, that the war is not over."

The war is not over is a phrase you'll just have to get used to. Because it isn't closer to over.

Our allies are not going to join us in Iraq in large numbers. What parliament is going to vote to send thousands of troops to join an occupation which is bitterly opposed by most of their population. Who is going to suggest that they send their troops to patrol Falluja?

How the US could have planned to wage this war without allies support is beyond me. Rummy and his chickenhawk planners had their fun planning the war but they forgot to plan the peace. Now, you have a population both humiliated and angered at an occupation which they feel is leading to them turning into the next Palestinians.

At the same time, US leaders expect other countries, who were not consulted, to jump in and join our war. Where are the Spanish and Italian troops? Staying home. Why? Because their governments would fall if they suggested sending troops to Iraq. There is absolutely no support for that.

The UN interventions have relied on large numbers of Pakistani and Bangladeshi troops to provide bulk. Are we to expect they're going to occupy a muslim country for our benefit?

The Dutch, who promised 1,000 men, may or may not send them, depending on what their parliament devises. The fact is that the US has created a tarpit in Iraq and we're not going to get people to sign on. Even when they show up, they're going to serve with the British.

The fact that US troops are stretched to the limits and need replacing is of little concern to them. Unlike Bush's daddy's friends, there is no rush to bail GW out this time. The US thinks they can berate and abuse allies, fine. Let them police Iraq by themselves, is the thinking, no matter what words they say.

The Administration has minimized the cost and expense of occupying Iraq with a frightening level of dishonesty. They knew there is little support for an ongoing occupation, much less an ongoing civil war, yet that is what will be delivered to the American people by the 4th of July. Bush has committed us to a course of action we were simply not ready to take.

How long can we keep half the Army's combat power stuck in Iraq? At some point within the next six months, an honest assessment will have to be made. We can't add any more troops anyway. We don't have them without mobilizing the combat units of the National Guard and many of those that have been are already doing Homeland Defense work.

And that's if resistance stays at this level. If it grows, it may trap the Marines in Iraq as well.

Steve Gilliard

Posted June 11, 2003 02:05 PM | Comments (53)


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