A hundred years from now, people will be scratching their heads at the way American voters dealt with war. It?s a tale of two Bushes: Bush the Father was forced into the first Gulf War when Saddam invaded Kuwait. He handled it just about perfectly. First he organized the only Middle East coalition in history that actually worked, then fought and won the war with hardly any American losses. He handed us our only strategic victory since 1945.
And we voted him out.
Ten years later, his kid becomes president, pisses off all our allies, invades Iraq for no reason, screws up the war so we?ve got 1100 dead GIs by election time?and wins reelection.
I guess the lesson is, if you want to get reelected, make war as badly as an Argentine. We?ll love you for it. Just whatever you do, don?t win. That?s the one thing we won?t forgive.
It just proves what I always thought: people are stupid. What drives me crazy is the way everybody falls for the same stories over and over. Like Fallujah. Anybody getting that "here we go again" feeling, watching the invasion of Fallujah? It?s like Take 2 of a real bad war movie. In the first place, we?re supposed to own Fallujah. We?ve been conducting air strikes on a city we supposedly took years ago. Rumsfeld?s cronies screwed up the occupation so totally that by April 2004 the insurgents had taken over the city, and we had the Marines, the same Marines who are hitting Fallujah right now, lined up on the outskirts ready to go in. And then, like I wrote in my column, Bush?s PR people called it off?wimped out, because they knew there?d be lots of gore, which would be bad for the boss?s reelection campaign.
So we?ve handed the insurgents six months warning that after the election when PR doesn?t matter so much, we?re going into Fallujah. I?ve had landlords who didn?t give me that much notice.
That?s not how you attack. You don?t give the enemy six months to get ready for you. That?s six months of preparing defenses?those air strikes on Fallujah targeted "enemy fortifications," which means the insurgents have been digging in, organizing local militias, weeding out informers, plotting mortar zones?while our troops waited at the city limits waiting for Nov. 2.
Then we go through the whole farce of getting Allawi?s government to "order" us to retake the city. Here again, it?s politics over tactics. Politically it?s important to make it look like the Iraqi government?s in charge. But tactically, it just gives the dug-in rebels in Fallujah a 72-hour warning that we?re about to attack. So much for tactical surprise.
No surprises: Marines retake Fallujah, insurgency leaders escape, disperse.
Conventional guerrilla-warfare strategy says that if your enemy is massing a huge conventional force to attack you, you disperse?just vanish. Mao said, "Lose land and save people, land can be retaken. Lose people to save land, people and land both lost." In other words, don?t risk your guerrilla force defending static positions.
The real pros, the brains of the insurgency, slipped out of Fallujah weeks ago. They?re already attacking us from the rear, just like Mao suggested, going after the soft targets, like the Iraqi cops. They grabbed a police station way up North and killed 21 poor suckers in uniform the other day.
Meanwhile, we?re running into "fierce resistance" in Fallujah. So who?s still in town, shooting back at us? Well, guerrilla armies are like any other armies; they?ve got their elite, and then they?ve got a lot of cannon fodder. We?re attacking the cannon fodder while the elite watches from a distance.
By cannon fodder I mean kids, local kids who can?t wait to get their 64 concubines in Paradise by dying for the ?hood. On any other battlefield, they?d be pushovers. But here they?re fighting in their own alleys and back streets. And they?ve had all those months of training, plotting out the best ambush sites, ranging their mortars, burying IEDs under every intersection. Amateur troops with good morale can be very effective defending their home ground. And it?s urban warfare, where armor isn?t all that effective.
So we?re fighting in the worst possible situation: the people we?re really looking for have already left town, but there are still enough wannabe-martyrs in town to kill a lot of our guys.
And the only way to get rid of the bastards is to hose down every shack in Fallujah with chain-cannon or tank rounds. Which means that along with the RPG-toting teenagers, we?re going to end up killing a lot of toddlers and their mothers. Which does not look good on the Al-Jazeera Evening News.
We?ll take the town, sure. But we?ll lose men, piss off every Muslim from Frankfurt to Jakarta, and we won?t find anybody worth capturing. The serious fighters of Fallujah are in safe houses around the Sunni Triangle, munching pistachios with their big hairy feet up, watching the battle and laughing.
In short, we?re screwed. I can hear you asking, "Gary, how can we get out of this mess?"
Well, you?re in luck because the War Nerd has been on the job, brooding about Iraq full-time. I?ve been able to go full-time because my damn medical problems flared up this past month and kept me at home, channel-surfing. Embarrassing kidney stuff?if you ever want revenge on somebody you really hate, just give them kidney problems. What with the pain and the time off work, I?ve had a stroke of genius.
My solution may shock you at first, but you just ride out that first shockwave and you?ll see it?s golden.
We?re losing this war, folks. We?ve got to do something radical. Right now, Iraq is ungovernable. We?ve installed one Iraqi puppet after another, and they?ve all failed. Some just didn?t have the balls, some were blown up in their cars. And those were the lucky ones; some of the others, like the commander of the "Fallujah Brigade," were snatched out of their cars and taken to soundproofed basements where nobody could hear them scream, while Islamic torturers went to work on their fingernails and testicles.
Now we?ve appointed Allawi. It?s a step in the right direction, because he is one mean son of a bitch. An interesting guy; he started out as a hit man for Saddam?s Ba?ath Party, quashing dissent by blowing the dissenters? heads off. Then he decided he wanted to be a doctor?maybe he got interested in medicine by seeing what people?s brains looked like splattered all over the sidewalk, I don?t know. Anyway, he went up to the head of an Iraqi medical school, Godfather-style, and said "I want an MD degree." They agreed with hardly any delay. It was the fastest qualification in history. None of those 50-hour shifts as an intern for Allawi; he graduated with honors in the time it took the Dean of Med School to sign the paper, trying not to let his hand shake too much.
Then Allawi had a fight with Saddam. Luckily, he was in London at the time. If you had a fight with Saddam in Iraq, you ended up in the dungeons getting cigarettes put out on your eyeballs. But London allowed Allawi a little more scope. So instead of hitting Saddam?s enemies, he became a CIA asset and started putting .22 rounds in the back of Iraqi officials? heads. You know, putting his talents to the service of freedom.
By all accounts, Allawi is a talented killer. In his first week in office, he personally took out six suspected insurgents?just lined?em up and gave each one a bullet in the brainstem. Him being an MD, he also performed the autopsies which revealed that the deceased died of heart failure, which was technically true?your heart does tend to stop when your head?s blown open.
This is the kind of guy we need to run Iraq. If Allawi had had a better start, he?d be fine. Unfortunately, he?s way, way too closely identified with the Occupation. No Iraqi will ever trust him again. Right now he controls about ten square yards of Iraq?the space covered by his special Delta-Force bodyguards. That?s it. If he ever walks out alone, even in the middle of that downtown mortar range known as the Green Zone, he?s toast.
What we need is somebody like Allawi, but not identified with the American occupation. Somebody double-tough, with plenty of experience in running Iraq.
That narrows it down to a pool of applicants consisting of exactly one guy.
I think you can see where I?m going here, folks. That?s right: Bring back Saddam!
Look at the man?s record! He came up from nowhere, a peasant boy from the boondocks (Tikrit) and took control of the craziest country on the planet. Better still, he kept control for decades. He survived every crisis a ruler could have: rebellions in Kurdistan and the Shiite zone, all-out war against Iran, American bombing and invasion, CIA assassination plots, blockade. None of it even fazed him. There were literally hundreds of attempted coups against him?and the guys who planned them are fertilizing the desert now?some of them taken out by our own guy, Doctor Allawi.
But Allawi was never more than hired muscle. Saddam was the brains of the outfit all along. We ought to realize that by now, after trying to run Iraq on our own. Saddam must be sitting in his cell mumbling to himself, "So, Yankees?now you see what I had to deal with! Now you see it?s not so easy, huh? Now you see you can?t run Iraq on hymns and happy thoughts, eh, you sons-of-jackals amateurs!"
By hiring Allawi we?ve already pretty much admitted that Saddam was the right man for the job, because Allawi is just a midget version of Saddam with the beard shaved and the American flag stamped on his forehead. Which is why he?ll never get the respect he needs to run the place?the Iraqis see him as our puppet. Old ladies would tear him limb from limb if they caught him in the street without his Delta operators.
Nope, there?s only one man for this job: ol? Soddom himself. Sure, there might be a problem explaining to the American voters why we blew a trillion dollars and a thousand GIs? lives putting the guy we ousted back in power. But hey, just wrap the flag around Saddam. He won?t mind, he?s a flexible guy. And we?ll fall for it. We?ll fall for anything.