If making a war go to plan
were a measure of success, then the score so far would have to go to
Saddam. Saddam promised the Americans hell, and that's pretty much what they
gotten so far. George promised a speedy decisive win with grateful Iraqis
throwing flowers at US troops,
and so far it's just been rude gestures and hand-grenades.
The question on every armchair general's lips of course is 'what will
happen when they get to Baghdad?' 45 square kilometers of urban sprawl
full of people who, in varying degrees, have benefited from Saddam's rule.
Democracies tend to
outlying regions to discouraging them from seceding. Dictatorships on the
other hand tend to repress their outer regions, and heavily subsidize their
capitals. Dictatorships are based on a central power-block, and concentric
circles of middle-level agents.
Everyone in Baghdad is, to some extent, a middle-level agent. They fear
they will be worse off in a chaotic or democratic Iraq. And they certainly
be much worse off if they show disloyalty to a Saddam who survives.
The US started this war with a credibility problem - caused by their
history encouraging Iraqi uprisings and refusing to assist them. And now the
war has bogged down, their credibility problem is even worse. Everyone in Iraq
now believes that either
- The Americans will get body-bag fatigue and go home; or
- The Americans can get the job done without help from the locals.
Either way, they see little point helping the Americans.
The Americans desperately need something to convince disgruntled Iraqis to
defect - either convincing them that the US is going to win, or creating a
situation in which self-interest will make the populations turn against their
To convince people they will win, they can take several strategies:
- Taking Basra. Once Basra falls, both north, and south Iraq will be
lost, and the Regime may crumble. The US originally thought they could contain
Basra, and just march around it. However, it's too big, and it's too close to
their supply lines. They now seem interesting in taking it before they take Baghdad.
- Bring in more guns. In true US-marines style, they are doing
this, but the heavy armor has to come through the Suez and then the Gulf since
the Turks refused land access. [And boy are the Turks going to pay for that
one. They ain't going to be suckling on the US tit anytime soon.]
The other option for the US is to create a situation in which people judge
that it is in their interests to rebel. Saddam has cut off food and water to
Basra out of habit (it always help to quash rebellions before), but in this
case it may provide the impetus for an uprising.
In the long-run though, the US has to take out Saddam, and his son Qusay.
Uday (his other son) is a harmless psycho, who is too much into torturing
people and raping underage girls to be a serious leadership contender.
But Saddam has been a little rattled too. The Daily Telegraph claims that Saddam
offered to live in exile in Syria as long as Qusay could take over. US
officials laughed that this suggestion.
Apparently the thought of dynastic succession without a fair election goes
against the grain for the average American - particularly as sons tend to
follow in the footsteps of their fathers, and perpetuate unresolved causes.