28 Dec 2006

Could the US Have Won?

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Mumin Salih thinks the US has already lost:

Who can forget the scenes of jubilant Iraqis in the streets of Baghdad in 2003? Who can forget the cheerful Iraqis around the falling statue of Saddam, symbolising the fall of the dictator’s regime?

Indeed, the majority of Iraqis were supportive to the efforts of liberating Iraq from the tight grip of Iraq’s worst dictator. That includes the vast majority of Kurds (about 20% of the total population) and the Shia (about 60% of the total population) as well as many sunni Arabs (about 20% of the total population). All these groups had suffered badly and sadly at the hands of Saddam’s Baath regime. They considered the war as a liberation war, rather than an occupation of Iraq. The American and British forces fought skilfully and won an easy military victory with minimal losses. Although Saddam and his Baath regime collapsed having provided minimal resistance, the jubilation soon started to fade away as the situation deteriorated rapidly. With so many killed, kidnapped and so many scandals spreading around, even the most sincere supporters of the war had to reconsider their positions and admit that Iraq is in a miss. But did it have to be?

But he believes a firmer approach would have worked better.

Let us make a hypothetical assumption that the control of post war Iraq was given to a ruthless general, say one with an Arab mentality similar to any Arab dictator like the late Hafez Al Asad of Syria or Saddam Hussein himself. Let us call that hypothetical personality General Ruthless and, based on the past experiences of the Middle East, let us see how he would have handled the post war Iraq.

From the outset, General Ruthless would make it clear he doesn’t tolerate any leniency in the liberated country. He would enforce a curfew for the first few days while his forces establish their hold on the country, he might give his forces the power to capture or even shoot looters and others who do not comply with law…

The outside world would only know very little about what is happening because General Ruthless would impose complete censorship on reports coming out of the country. Any leaks of bad news would be strongly denied.

Suicide bombing, kidnappings and other terrorists’ activities that flourished in real life, would become harder to carry out and would not get the wide publicity they enjoyed in the real war scenario. Lack of reporting would deny the terrorists of an important source of information and feedback. The few terrorists’ activities that do get through would go largely unnoticed and unreported, therefore have little influence on public opinion inside and outside the country. People would perceive a sense of reasonable stability, which encourages more people to turn to work confirming the sense of stability even further. On the other hand, terrorists would get frustrated because the lack of media coverage denies them an important communication tool with regard to the full impact of their activities. It becomes even harder for them to recruit young Iraqis.

General Ruthless might even take steps to deny the terrorists any access to the Internet or satellite television, denying them of their most important weapon- propaganda. After all, the Internet is an American property.

General Ruthless’ harsh measures would undoubtedly result in angry criticism from various groups inside and outside America, but nothing in the scale of criticism we have seen in the real life scenario, stability of Iraq would silence many fierce opponents. Such heavy handed approach would undoubtedly result in considerable loss of lives but, again, nothing on the scale we saw in the real life scenario.

America started losing the war before it even started, the slow build up to the war that preceded the military operations only played in the hands of the anti-war groups worldwide. General Ruthless wouldn’t allow this to proceed in the way it did. It was clear, then and now, that the secular Baath regime started to make alliances with the Islamic radical groups and actively sought the destruction of American targets by all means, therefore it has become a serious threat. America has the right to defend its people and its interests. Playing polite and trying to make it a legal war was like a joke and led America to nowhere. How many wars in history we agree to be legal wars? ..

I am afraid even the ruthlessness of General Ruthless would have scored more success and caused less damage than the Americans had done. This purely hypothetical assumption only exposes the weaknesses of the West more than it reflects the wisdom of our hypothetical ruthless General. If America cannot win this war then it is hard to believe it can win any war. America’s failure in Iraq may leave a long lasting scar, but the Americans have can only blame themselves before blaming the others.

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