The Military Offensive
The United States did not start its war against Iraq when the first missiles hit Baghdad. The U.S. bombed Iraq for more than ten years and sent in special forces for intelligence and sabotage. The offensive only signaled to the world that "the U.S. is here."
More than a hundred thousand U.S. troops aligned themselves along the Southern Iraq border before the invasion. The U.S. worked hard to convince the world that it had significant reasons for a pre-emptive strike against an Iraqi military that has proved to be almost impotent. Iraq was not allowed to make a pre-emptive strike against the obvious attack that it faced. Iraq didn't have the forces to repel any attack, and it would be termed the aggressor if it made a pre-emptive strike.
From the start of the invasion the reasons President Bush gave for the attack have been challenged. Although photos showed American troops wearing protective suits (how many troops?), it is difficult to believe the American administration honestly thought that Iraq had chemical weapons. If the administration believed that Saddam Hussein was prepared to use chemical weapons against the United States mainland from 8000 miles away, would it concentrate its soldiers to facilitate chemical attacks from an enemy only a few miles way?
The Military Thrust
The military thrust has changed the original perspective of the causes and reasons for the war.
The United States is not a heartless nation and undoubtedly doesn't want to kill civilians. However, it is disingenuous to convince the international community that use of accurately guided missiles, some of which have gone astray into civilian populations, proves a virtuous attitude. The WWII carpet bombings of German cities from high altitudes showed that conventional bombings that kill many civilians may not greatly impede enemy war efforts. The laser guided bombs of high accuracy are being used to gain most effectiveness from ordinance and their use has no direct relation to preventing civilian casualties.
The references to new weapons and logistics make it appear that the U.S. and Great Britain are using Iraq as an experimental battleground for testing high tech weaponry. The U.S. military command constantly describes the effectiveness of the guided missiles: the 4000 pound super-bombs released from B-2 bombers operating from Kansas, and B-52 bombers operating from England that arrive over Baghdad and other cities at scheduled times. We hear of night vision equipment that allow attacks in the dark, more mobile armored cars, and other advanced weapons and logistics.
The combined U.S. and British strategy is now resembling Israel's strategy in its occupation of Palestine. The allies have spread forces throughout Iraq, captured most of the territory and have not entered the cities in full force. Knowing that Iraq has no effective military force, the U.S./British strategy evolved to:
- infiltrate urban areas to assassinate Iraqi civil and military leaders,
- locate informers who will provide information and assist the allies in their military efforts,
- send in a small number of heavily armored troops for urban strikes,
- find and destroy arms caches,
- destroy Iraqi government symbols,
- use attack helicopters to locate and eliminate small bands of armed Iraqis.
Exposing small groups that presently oppose the invasion and might also oppose a new government is the principal objective of the U.S. strategy.
The Changing Perceptions
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) briefings are contradictory ("We have a good plan." followed by "We are changing the plan.") CENTCOM has tried to "spin" its error in believing the Shiites would rebel and welcome the invading forces. The reason given--fear--fear that those who rebel or support the invading troops will suffer reprisals. "Guns are pointed at their heads." Actually, no proof is offered to any of the explanations for the lack of rebellion. With U.S.and British forces just outside the major population centers in Southern Iraq, and no strong Iraqi military opposition, it is difficult to believe that fear is preventing rebellion. If a scarce number of Iraqi soldiers exist to impede the military advance, how many Iraq agents can be available in the city of Basra to control a population of 1 million persons? Another contradiction--Why would many Shiites express anger and antagonism against the invading forces and support for the Iraqi regime just to pacify Saddam Hussein's leadership? They could remain neutral and still escape any reprisals.
The perception that the invasion is an occupation has been strengthened by observations that the military has moved forward without preparation for any civil administration. Iraqi opposition and Kurdish leaders have not been included in the military plans.
"Liberation means Iraqis are at the forefront. Conquest means the invaders are in charge." (Hoshyar Zubari, Kurdistan Democratic Party)
When asked about the lack of attention to providing a civil administration,Allied Commander Tommy Franks disclosed America's preparation for a "democratic" Iraq with the revealing statement:
"The war is only one week old. It took us three months before we installed Karzai to head the Afghanistan government."
Observations from the Military Offensive
The world fears the U.S. is defining war to favor its agenda.
War crimes are being defined by President Bush and the American military. They will determine who is to be judged for a war crime. Presenting captured soldiers to the press, an Iraqi action that is not recommended, becomes a war crime. Bombing a bus in Western Iraq that killed Syrian civilians returning to Syria, a U.S. action, is not considerd to be a war crime.
Aggressor nation can be any nation that expresses grievances or hostility to the United States.
Legitimate defense will be determined by the United States. Nations that are adversaries will not be allowed a legitimate defense. Nations that assist nations that are not allowed a legitimate defense will also be subject to attack.
Terms of engagement are defined by the U.S. military. Scorched earth policies, usually used to prevent the enemy from utilizing valuable resources, are not permitted as a deterrence to the U.S. military actions. Iraqis have been threatened with war crimes if they destroy oil wells, bridges or other infrastructure desired by America policy planners for managing post-war Iraq. The U.S. military is permitted to destroy infrastructure the Iraqi people might need. The U.S. military claimed the bombing of the Syrian bus in Western Iraq occurred because the bus came suddenly on a bridge that the U.S. had prepared to bomb. The U.S. didn't explain why it had to bomb a bridge in Western Iraq that did not impede its military progress in the war.
The U.S. military thrust intends to destroy Iraqi opposition and preserve infrastructure that can facilitate the administration of post-war Iraq. The lack of an uprising against the Saddam Hussein regime and the cool reception to the invading forces have turned the perception of the invasion from one of liberation to one of possible occupation.
april 1, 2003
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