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The Insurgency By: Tashbih Sayyed
Pakistan Today | Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Saddam Hussein, as the events that followed his fall suggest, had planned his response to the U.S. invasion very skillfully. Knowing that no military power on earth can face the U.S. might for long, he had come up with the strategy of breaking the American will to liberate Iraqis by engaging them in a long and seemingly un-exhausting insurgency.

"In the fall of 2002, several months before the United States and its allies invaded Iraq; Saddam Hussein dispatched more than 1,000 security and intelligence officers to two military facilities near Baghdad where they underwent two months of guerrilla training, according to a secret U.S. military intelligence report.

Anticipating his defeat, intelligence reports show, the Iraqi dictator began laying the foundation for an insurgency as Washington worked to convince the United Nations and allies around the world that Saddam had to go."

Saddam Hussein had planned the insurgency in Iraq to kill two birds with one stone: first, a long and bloody insurgency, he was convinced, would break the American will to set things right in the Middle East and would force them to leave without accomplishing their mission; second, he hoped that if he ever was captured, the never ending insurgency would compel U.S. forces to spare his life in order to use his influence to calm down the resistance.

He, according to his chief lawyer, believed the United States would have to seek his help to quell the bloody insurgency in Iraq and open the way for U.S. forces to withdraw. He quoted Saddam as saying: "These puppets in the Iraqi government that the Americans brought to power are helpless. They can't protect themselves or the Iraqi people. The Americans will certainly come to me, to Saddam Hussein's legitimate leadership and to the Iraqi Baath Party, to rescue them from their huge quandary."

He was wrong on one account: the U.S. didn't need him to defeat the insurgency. And so he was hanged. But on the second account - breaking the American will - he may still be proven right as the Democrat leadership is doing everything in their power to convince Americans that the U.S. victory in Iraq is not possible; in a weekly Democrat radio address on Saturday (January 6, 2007), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made clear the Congressional majority saw the solution as getting the troops out rather than sending more of them into Iraq.

Saddam Hussein was confident that if the insurgency succeeded in bogging down the U.S. forces long enough and killing a significant number of American soldiers, it would create doubt in the minds of Americans whether the U.S. could ever win this war. His advisers were sure that such a perception would compel the Americans to force their administration to withdraw the troops. And Saddam Hussein was proven right when a commission, formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course, ruled out the prospect of victory for America.

It is obvious that Democrats do not consider that a victory in Iraq is vital for long term U.S. national security interests. But their insistence that the solution to the Iraq conflict is political rather than military underlines their lack of understanding of the ground realities as they exist in Iraq. They fail to recognize that an artificial country like Iraq, whose component ethnic and sectarian populations have no desire to stay together, cannot be expected to transform into a unified and seamless nationhood on its own.

History is witness to the fact that Iraq has always needed an iron hand to prevent it from imploding. It doesn't need a lot of wisdom to see that if left to their own designs, the three major ethnic groups, Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis will embark upon a campaign of ethnic cleansing against each other.

It is also a fact that if the country is to be saved from partitioning into three lawless regions that eventually will become a hub for anti-American activities, the U.S. has to win this war. According to John McCain, "failure to make the necessary political and financial commitment to build the new Iraq could endanger American leadership in the world, empower our enemies and condemn Iraqis to renewed tyranny."

U.S. victory in Iraq is absolutely critical in securing our national interests. John McCain has put it aptly, "Iraq's transformation into a progressive Arab state could set the region that produced Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, and al Qaeda on a new course in which democratic expression and economic prosperity, rather than a radicalizing mix of humiliation, poverty and repression, define a modernity in the Muslim world that does not express itself in ways that threaten its people or other nations. Conversely, a forced U.S. retreat from Iraq would be the most serious American defeat since Vietnam."

Democrats will have to understand that even for a political solution to the conflict, they will require the backing and cover of an effective military force, as only an effective military force can help in the evolution of a safe and secure social environment without which no political solution is possible.

One of the more important reasons for the insurgency in Iraq to succeed in persisting and gaining new ground is the U.S. failure to secure a social environment in which the ordinary Iraqi would have felt safer. The Saddam supporters made sure that the Iraqis would never get a chance to know what it is like to be liberated. Post Saddam Iraq became a living hell for every Iraqi to the extent that he longed to be back under Saddam. And Saddam supporters succeeded in their plan only because the U.S. never had enough troops to secure the neighborhoods that they cleared of insurgents. The insurgents always resurfaced there as soon as the U.S. troops left.

The ordinary Iraqis soon realized that they could not depend on the U.S. for their security. So they had no choice but either to join the insurgents or to support them. The U.S. policy of not giving enough importance to the security aspect of the Iraqis also contributed in the spread of small groups of armed militias who were forced to take charge of defending their lives and property themselves, which pushed the Iraqi society deeper into the whirlpool of sectarian violence. Militias became the only source of security for the masses, especially for the poor population.

Today, if we look at the components of insurgency in Iraq, we will find a great number of such Iraqis who had celebrated the toppling of the dictator and were happy to be liberated supporting the insurgency right along with Al-Qaeda, Wahhabis, Baathists and Arab nationalists. We are morally bound to liberate these good Iraqis from the tyranny of chaos otherwise no people in the future will ever look up to the U.S. for anything good.

It is in our national interest to correct the Iraqi perception that the U.S. invasion only replaced one kind of tyranny by another - a permanent state of chaos. And only by sending more troops we can correct this perception.

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