December 15, 2003


Anthony Cordesman's extremely long Iraq War after-action review is readable here.

UPDATE: BTW, I just noticed I drove right by my two-year anniversary of using some kind of blogging tool to generate this site, without even noticing. Damn, that means I'm going to have to redesign, now...

Posted by BruceR at 02:05 PM


It'll be interesting to see whether the Hussein capture will lead to a lifting of the cap on Kurdish and Shiite resisters, as Juan Cole's wife suspects. The expected post-Ramadan reduction in guerilla activity over the next few months that I've been anticipating will likely be attributed to the capture, regardless. There's little evidence many of the active resisters were centrally controlled, and the state of Hussein's hideout would seem to confirm that.

Of obvious value here in this analysis is that guerrilla's interview with a French journalist that we translated. That fellow won't stop attacking American planes because a Saddamite restoration is now impossible. He's stopping because he's run out of easily available missiles. But unless they happen to tell us that (as this particular fool did) how would we know?

More information on that strike, BTW, via Colby. The plane, it turns out, had a total hydraulic failure. If the second SA-14 on the ground hadn't been fired five seconds too late, and failed to close, or if the Iraqi team had been better able to anticipate the plane's takeoff, and not have engaged at extreme range in the first place, the plane likely would have crashed outright, and left French journalism with a whole new dilemma. This, more than anything else, seems the saving grace for the Americans in Iraq: there have not been a lot of trained professionals among their opposition up 'til now.

I should add that I think Bush and Dean both struck the right notes in their statements on the Hussein capture, one cautionary, the other congratulatory (UPDATE: Clark did well, too), and that our new PM Paul Martin, in congratulating the Americans and Iraqis on behalf of all Canadians, did so as well. No matter how much one may doubt that the final outcome -- when cut with the realities of American electoral politics --might be positive for the Middle East, this is evidence once again that betting against the American military almost always amounts to a losing proposition, historically. They're like the Roman legions, in a way: while the quality of the Emperors/Consuls/horse-senators at home may vary, but if you find yourself going up against them out in the provinces in this epoch, you can say reliably that it's you who are going to end up on the wrong side in the history books, sooner or later.

UPDATE: Of all the blog posts I've read (my own included), I have to say Andrew Sullivan came the closest to striking the right note for the occasion.

Posted by BruceR at 10:34 AM