Ever since the Bush administration chose to pursue the coarse of action we have followed on Iraq, I have been behind them 110% of the way. In doing that I have never harbored any illusions about how easy or difficult this task of eliminating Saddam and building a free, democratic, prosperous, and peaceful Iraq would be. I have always understood that it will take What? it will take, nothing less and nothing more. I am confident that we can and will prevail but on What? time line and What? cost, there has been no way to really know for certain. That is true no matter What? the "experts" predicted in advance because the "experts" were not unanimous; anyone who claims they were is a liar who is cherry picking their experts with the assistance of 20/20 hindsight. The "experts" when taken as a group covered every possible scenario and so inevitably some of them had to be right. What? is needed now most urgently is not debates about the past but a focus on the present realities of the strategy employed by the enemies of freedom.
To repeat something of utmost importance, it will take What? it will take, nothing less and nothing more. Since we have gone into Iraq the picture has become more and more focused as to What? it will take to achieve victory and how it is that our enemies have chosen to prevent that from happening. It should not be a shock that succeeding in What? Bush has set out to do isn't going to come very easy. The main reason for this is not the inevitable mistakes big and small we have made along the way, but is that our enemies are not cream-puffs and ragamuffins.
In Tommy Franks book, American Soldier, he continually alludes to the maxim, "the enemy gets a vote." That basic principle operates in any competitive environment; it does not matter if that environment is sports, business, or war. Our opponents, those arrayed against Iraqi people becoming a free democratic peaceful, and prosperous country, have their heads, hearts and bodies in the game and are not gonna back off until they win or are forced into oblivion; a fate we should be most anxious to visit upon them. This contest is not just a test of brute force, political will, determination, and man power but also of strategy, timing, and tactics .
Many of those set against the Coalition were sent into oblivion trying to stop the US military from toppling the regime of Saddam. However, it would seem that not all of our enemies were so eager to meet their fate and believed that if they were patient than maybe they could win the day after all. Instead of fighting our strength they decided to melt away, lay in the grass, and fight in ways they believed gave them a better shot at victory. Should we really be surprised that our adversaries are not total idiots and morons?
I have always given them more credit than that and so I have looked at the situation in Iraq through a patient and pragmatic lens. It will take What? it will take, nothing less and nothing more. That said, I thought the strategy chosen by our adversaries was more of a loser than it has turned out to be. It was a tremendous risk on their part to think they could melt away and then reorganize enough to cause us as much difficulty as they have been able to do. They ran the risk of defections, being rolled up, or run out by the Iraqi population. It seems that their strategy of risk was a wise one. And we must give them credit and understand What? their plan is.
So What? was there strategy? (Here is What? I believe it to be):
They understood that the prospect of going blow for blow with the US military was a sure fire losing proposition. However, being the brutal bastards that they are, this would not stop them from sacrificing many many of their human resources in the initial battle. After all their pride dictated that they had to at least try to put up a fight and they had some weapons that they thought they should use rather than just lose. They knew their forces would most likely be overwhelmed and just hoped they would give out later rather than sooner.
Upon military collapse, the immediate task would be to go covert and slowly, patiently, and incrementally build their guerrilla resistance movement. They believed they could maintain and recruit man power, had plenty of arms in country, and had lots of dollars on hand stashed in and outside the country to stay in the fight for the long haul if they could just hold on to these things. Coordination between Bathists, Jihadists, and anyone else who would want a piece of the Coalition was in operation well before the Coalition invasion.
The "Laying in the weeds" strategy has been designed against two key political realities for the coalition that they thought could be exploited.
1. The Coalition needs to bring security and democratic elections to Iraq, which would take time to organize and would be difficult even without their interference.
2. Coalition countries will be holding national elections themselves, but these were far enough off in the distance that they would have to be patient in applying themselves.
Their gamble to lay low in the weeds and only re-assert themselves slowly and incrementally has worked in their favor for many in the impatient West have already conceded defeat or are mired in pessimism. The Iraqi insurgent/terrorists along with their useful idiots in the west have successfully called the motives, direction, and commitment of the coalition into question while further baptizing the nation of Iraq into the brutality of man's inhumanity to man. The goal all along has been to divide the coalition and bring down the governments of the Coalition by counting on the weak wills and fecklessness of voters in the West. They succeeded in Spain, they succeeded with the Philippines.
This analysis is commentary on their wisdom and our folly should we be so foolish as to accept our current difficulties as reasons to pull the plug or change coarse now. If I and many others who accept a similar view of the terrorist aims are right about the strategy of the insurgents, we will see just about everything they are capable of in the run up to the US presidential elections and Iraqi elections in January. Will we stand strong, or our the terrorists wiser than you?