July 22, 2003

THIS ASSESSMENT OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN IRAQ from StrategyPage is worth reading. Excerpt:

What is really happening in Iraq? The media make it sound like another Vietnam is developing, with the Iraqi population sliding towards mass resistance as Iraqi society collapses in violent anarchy. But the reality is a lot different. Attacks on coalition troops are declining, the availability of public services is increasing and public opinion towards the coalition becomes more favorable each day. The gunmen who are attacking coalition troops are being hunted down and arrested, and huge arms caches found and destroyed. . . .

A lot of the “combat” is now taking place in the shadows. Special Forces, Delta Force and SEALs are doing what they’ve been doing since before the war began; sorting out the Iraqi underground. This mélange of criminals, Saddam’s secret police and various Baath Party big shots (including Saddam and his sons) terrorized and plundered Iraq and are trying to get back to the good old days now that the war’s over. While it was widely reported that the Baath Party stalwarts and secret police were fleeing from the south and north to Baghdad during the war, few journalists asked the question; “where are these guys doing now.” Technically, the ones who were on the government payroll are now unemployed. But this is where reporting, real investigative reporting, gets tough. The Special Forces are a notoriously tight mouthed bunch. Same with Delta and the SEALs. These troops have been chasing the bad guys, but aren’t talking. And for good reason, as these fellows rely on surprise and superior information to obtain a lifesaving edge in combat. They don’t talk because they want to survive their next encounter with the bad guys. However, it’s no secret that few of the many intelligence units were sent home. The intel troops are now working on tracking down Saddam’s unemployed thugs.

Read the whole thing, which was posted yesterday, but which seems all the more newsworthy today, for obvious reasons. This piece on how to interrogate Iraqis is also a must-read:

Thousands of Baath Party members, secret policemen, and other Saddam supporters have been interrogated since the war in Iraq began. Getting some of these guys to talk has been a challenge, because many of them really believe that it’s only a matter of time before they will be back in power. Several gambits have proven useful in loosening tongues. Many of these people have Iraqi blood on their hands, and they do fear retribution from the families of their victims. So much effort has gone into identifying who did what to whom when Saddam was in power. With this information in hand, the interrogator mentions that the Iraqi judicial system will soon be functioning again, and, hey, weren’t you in Basra in 1993 when a lot of Shiites “disappeared.” Perhaps we should take you back there and, hey, do you know what a “line up” is? That gets a lot of people to talk. Another scary gambit is mentioning a transfer to Guantanamo. The Arab media has been conjuring up all manner of fantasies about Guantanamo, and to many of the currently unindicted, being sent there is seen as tantamount to a death sentence, or worse.

Heh. Mary Robinson et al. — Donald Rumsfeld’s useful idiots. (Via ChicagoBoyz). This post from Stephen Green also offers some useful historical perspective on the end-phases of other wars, which weren’t as neat as some imagine today.

UPDATE: Meanwhile Phil Carter issues a useful “don’t get cocky” warning.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, Ralph Peters says that the death of Uday and Qusay is more important than the fall of Baghdad.

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