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Friday, June 20, 2003


Pot Shot War

"What we are seeing here is a fundamental reassessment of the situation in Iraq in terms of political and military stability," said Daniel Goure, a Pentagon adviser at the Washington-based Lexington Institute. "We have been operating on two assumptions: that once the war was over the Iraqis would rapidly move into peaceful mode, and second, that there would be a new political and economic spirit in the country. We discovered neither of these assumptions is true." -- Asian Times

March 14, 2003 -- Limited Inc

"Given this, here is the primer for the upcoming catastrophe:

1. Occupation is not peace. The media has defined the war as having a beginning -- when Bush declares it -- and an end -- when Saddam Hussein is dissolved. Now, the beginning, as we all know by now, has not been clear. In fact, it is unclear what Bush will declare, if we are actually engaged in warlike hostilities now, and who will be responsible for the war... Is it the UN vs. Saddam, the U.S. vs Saddam, or the Coalition of the Willing vs. Saddam? Similarily, the dissolution of Saddam ends only one phase of the war. The next phase, if the post-Saddam history of Northern Iraq is relevant, begins with squabbling between hostile factions that soon escalates into shooting. Plus, of course, with a soldiery strung out in Iraq and no central authority besides that army, the terrain and disposition of forces is ideally suited for suicide bombers.

2.You can't give what you take. As we've pointed out before, Paul Wolfowitz has testified that we intend to pay for the war with Iraq's money. At the same time, we intend to reconstruct Iraq. Those are mutually cancelling propositions. This is when the lesson of Afghanistan kicks in. There is no constituency in this country willing to see a transfer of about one hundred billion dollars to Iraq. And if the economy continues to suck, the pressure will be overwhelming to subsidize this war with the spoils.

3.A democratic government won't last if its strips the country of its wealth. Stripping, here, is pretty direct. We aren't talking fancy Swiss bank accounts. We are talking oil money going out in ways that everybody sees. If this is the American strategy, be prepared for a guerilla war.

4 The current civil society in Northern Iraq is endangered by American adventurism. Northern Iraq, and the Kurds, have become the stuff of propaganda lately. That there was no outpouring of admiration for their civil ways before 9/11 had a simple cause: for the first five years of the No Fly Zone, Kurdish factions killed each other. They also gave shelter to the PKK, a guerrilla group in Turkey that was as dirty as they come. This isn't to say that Northern Iraq hasn't made progress -- they have. They've done it in the way that progress is made -- it is a grassroots effort, and it takes security, money, and time. If the U.S. expects to 'integrate' Northern Iraq, by force, into its idea of Iraq, all of that progress will be undone." -- Limited Inc,

"... the war seems to be going well from here. What does it look like from there?

What it does look like is a copy of the war that will happen after Saddam H. is history. Treacherous attacks by a subaltern people who don't appreciate the marvels we simply ache to shower them with -- food, democracy, privatized telephone service with 10,000 hours of free long distance calls -- that will eventually wear away the the surface of the military nerve, in the form of the shooting of this or that civilian, and provoke backlash, in the form of the ambush of this or that heroic American, and so on. You know the drill. -- Limited Inc, March 24, 2003

The Republican Guard turned out to be a dud. The fedayeen, on the other hand, is scrapping out there in the countryside, and we doubt that Baghdad's fall is going to put a stop to them --Limited Inc, April 3

In Iraq, the forces of Saddam are through. But the War still rumbles, in Mosul, in Baghdad, in Basra. These are weeks of shifting. We don't think the War part 2 is necessary. We think it is preventable. We think the factional struggles that racked Northern Iraq don't have to be replicated on a national scale with quite that fury. But we also think that the longer the Americans display their insensibility to their situation in Iraq, as long as they sign contracts that seemingly are premised on the assumption of months, if not years, of occupation, we creep ever closer to a pot shot war. One in which Americans casualties will be higher than the pot shot war in Afghanistan, and Iraqi casualties, as seems to be the destiny of wars waged in Iraq, will be much higher still. There's probably some calculable multiple, now, of American to Iraqi deaths. -- April 17, Limited Inc

We've been going back to check our forecasts against reality. Not bad. Better, we think, than Rumsfeld's guys. Two places where we've been truly wrong: Northern Iraq, and the exiles. Northern Iraq has been mostly preserved, and that's good news. The exiles never came in as a colonial government (good news) because Americans decided to govern directly (bad news). The rest of it, though, has not been hard to foresee. Any competent journalist could have predicted the potshot war we are in now. Any competent journalist who puts together the numbers -- that we are paying for Iraq out of Iraq's own funds -- and the governance (which is wholly American) will find all the grievances that we are going to be surprised about, stunned about, in tomorrow's headlines.

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