The rapid advance was able to seize the oil fields of the south before much economic or environmental damage could occur. Had we waited for several days of bombardment, the story here might have proved disastrous, with the Iraqi defenders having plenty of time to set fire to all the wells in that oil-rich region. Similarly key oil platforms were seized by special ops in the Persian Gulf before they could be destroyed by their crews.
Crucial waterways, bridges, and road intersections were seized, and all the chatter about the heavy damage caused by Fedayeen irregulars missed the key point: despite harassment, no supplies --- whether water, fuel, food, or ammunition --- have been prevented from reaching the front-line forces. Most of the media critics haven't, it appears, the foggiest idea just how complex and demanding the logistics challenge happens to be, to keep 90,000 troops and armored vehicles moving over hundreds of miles through enemy territory.
Umm Qsar, the only ep-water port in Iraq was seized, then cleared of Fedayeen terrorists, and the port access cleared of mines --- a huge challenge that was effectively completed in record time. A water pipeline has just been laid from Kuwait to that city's residents. A pipeline from Kuwait carrying fuel is being completed northward to the US forces south of Baghdad.
A northern front, which was supposed to be opened by the 4th Mechanized Infantry Division --- the most technologically advanced in the US military --- caused some adjustment, but there were always alternative options, and special forces and airborne troops operating in the west and north of the country, joining up in the north with Kurdish forces, have quickly put pressure on the regular Iraqi military and Republican Guards there and so far have prevented the northern oil fields from being set ablaze while destroying the Al-Qaeda linked terrorists in the Northeast corner to the point the remnants have had to retreat pell-mell into Iran, leaving behind, it appears, lots of intelligence documents.
The seizure of the airbases in the wild-west areas of Iraq, plus the use of special ops, removed the danger that Saddam might have attacked Israel with Scuds and brought about a regional war.
And the British marines outside Basra, surprised by the Feydaheen terror squads using human-shields and killing off any suspected resistors --- probably the only real surprise that American and British commanders hadn't fully anticipated --- are using their hard-gained experience in the streets of Belfast over the last 34 years in penetrating into the city.
Then, while the forward forces of the US three divisions stopped, regrouped, waited for supplies, and --- despite low-level firefighting --- the troops were able to get some sleep and recover from fatigue (always a problem in battlefield situations) --- the media chattered on, you'll recall, about a pause that was unforeseen, and the need to reconsider the strategy, and the brilliant strategy of Saddam-the-fox who outwitted American planners (who in reality is either pushing daisies, or badly battered and in a hospital, or totally unnerved by the bombing on his bunker at the start of the war, or in a state of paranoid delirium),and conversely the stupidity of Rumsfeld and his civilian assistants ignoring the alleged advice of the military to have more heavy divisions on the ground before the war started, and on and on . . . each and every one of these media pundits great military experts, no exceptions. The retired generals and colonels used by them, who are experts, did disagree on the latter controversy --- whether or not enough heavy divisions were deployed at first --- but then there has probably never been a war the US has fought since the war of 1812 where there wasn't criticism, sound or not, of the way the war was being fought. Some of these generals are ex-army men, who don't like the shift away from large armored forces to lighter, mobile forces functionally integrated with air power and smart weaponry and the new developments in C3I --- control, command, communications, and intelligence --- along with the use of special forces in flexible rolling ways as the battlefield develops over time. Others have their own reasons for their views. Many endorsed the strategy from day one of the war. And we now have it from no less an authority than the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, visibly angry at a press conference yesterday, denouncing these verbal attacks as coming from "armchair critics" who have never seen the battle plan, are uninformed generally, and are voicing "bogus" criticisms.
Seems sound. Consider now the further innovative successes so far:
The six-day "pause", which ended essentially two days ago, resulted in a degradation of the Republican Guard divisions facing the US forces to somewhere below 50% effectiveness. If that's a pause --- the media buzzword for US forces being stymied by the great Fedayeen attacks in the rear and the failure of uprisings so far by the Shiites in the south --- the Medina and Baghdad divisions didn't seem to enjoy the outcome; and starting yesterday the probing attacks by the advance units of the have turned into a full-tilt assault by the 3 US divisions there, plus units of the 101st Airborne, and both Republican Guard divisions have been destroyed according to news reports. The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, pooh-poohed by the advocates of more heavy divisions because it is a lightly armored force (with fewer M1A1 and M1a2 tanks than heavy armored infantry, and much lighter armored vehicles than Bradleys), has essentially pushed to the very outskirts of Baghdad itself today. The battle for that city should begin soon.
In addition to the destruction of the Medina and the Baghdad divisions, the Hammarabi south of Baghdad has also been hammered repeatedly, and that seems to be the case as well of a 4th Republican Guard division, near Kut SE of Baghdad, the city the marines swept through rapidly today. The two Republican Guard divisions north of Baghdad, including the one in Tikrit, Saddam's tribal-clan home base, have been trying to send units southward to bolster the heavily degraded 4 divisions in the south, but whatever trucks and armor they send in that direction is bound to be picked up by US aerial reconnaissance and lead to their own heavily attrition.
So far, despite predictions of a Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas, the Turks have apparently not moved into Iraq beyond a limited perimeter, and the 4th Mechanized Infantry Division is already assembling in Kuwait as the 40 ship-armada continues to unload its armor and other weaponry. Had the 4th Infantry actually attacked from Turkey, the US government might have felt obliged to let Turkish troops also enter. Meanwhile, as the war draws to a quicker end than Ankara's politicians seem to have anticipated, Turkey's government has decided today to let supplies for US forces in the North of Iraq enter across Turkish soil --- a sign that it's not in Turkish interests to seem lukewarm to the US, essentially its best friend anyway in the Western world. By far.
Whether the 4th will actually get into the battle of Baghdad before it's completed isn't clear. Some units could be sent hastily northward if needed, but generally a division as technologically advanced as it happens to be will function best at full-strength or near it. Still, expect some big surprises in US efforts to take Baghdad, similar in audacity to the original battle plan that went into operation just 13 days ago --- the armor push to the north from Kuwait and the seizure of the oil fields and airbases in the west and north by special ops and airborne troops.
Two big developments also underscore the media's cocksure analyses from the outset --- especially in Europe --- that the Iraq weren't receiving the Americans and British as liberators --- little or no mention in the French or German media that I looked at, including the French troisieme and deuxieme TV networks, that death squads were thick on the ground in Basra and the other southern cities . . . families threatened with death if the men or adolescents didn't fight, the use of human shields, the terror and fear that 28 years of Saddam's regime, including the massacres in the hundreds of thousands of the Shia in March and April 1991 (abandoned by the Bush Sr. administration, whose National Security adviser and Secretary of State weren't notably reticent last fall in criticizing Bush Jr's support for destroying the Saddamite regime they left in place).  In fact, however, at Kut south of Baghdad, the citizenry was jubilant when the marines swept through, and  the rescue of the US prisoner last night indicates that there are Iraqis --- probably more and more --- willing to pass on information to the coalition forces. The British marines around Basra are hoping to see the same thing occur there.
These two developments are doubly encouraging because, whatever the surprises in store for the battle of Baghdad, it will be enormously helpful to the US forces there if the Shiites and the Kurds --- about 40% of the 5 million inhabitants --- join in the battle, if only in the form of intelligence: supplying the US special forces in their midst, operating with Shia and Kurdish volunteers trained by us, with information as to the command or concentration posts of the Special Republican Guards, the Special Palace forces, the secret police, and whatever thuggish terrorists happen to be dispersed among the population.
All of this, remember, has been achieved with light casualties --- fewer than 50 battlefield casualties, plus some prisoners and another 15 or so dead in accidents on the US side, and about half that for the British. The destruction of the Baghdad division, some 10,000 dead, hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles destroyed, appears to have resulted in about 6 US casualties --- a ratio even more lopsided than the ground campaign in 1991, after 43 days of consecutive bombing. And simultaneously, to top it off, with great care taken to spare civilian lives. So far, to be exact, fewer than 650 even by Iraqi reports. Not that this prevent the European media frothing at the mouth over the alleged non-stop massacres of Iraqi civilians being inflicted by the rampant-running American bullies. See European Media
French Media Developments: Hold the Press!
The French deuxieme chaine (2nd TV network --- state controlled and essentially doing in foreign and security policies what the government orders it to) --- had an Iraqi exile, a prominent film maker Saad Salman who risked his life recently going back to Iraq to film a documentary in secret, who wouldn't shut up when he was told and lambasted the anchorman and the network for its propaganda service in behalf of Saddam and its failure to report the death squads and the terror while it dwelt on civilian casualties that were the responsibility of the Saddamite regime's terror.
That was Monday night. A bright congenial fellow, Salman --- who was immediately challenged by the anchorman to explain why the Iraqis weren't supporting the US and British --- played along for a while, then got more and more irked by the efforts to whitewash the regime when he started criticizing the network's coverage. The anchorman, embarrassed, kept saying "Pas de tout, we just report, old chap, what our reporters say." The film maker, who has been in tv, then talked about the selective use of photography and reporting that are both a matter of calculated editing and distortion. Unable to shut him up, the anchorman said that they were reporting "facts as they saw him," which led the Iraqi to then expose the one-sided coverage even more --- he wouldn't shut up when the camera try to move away from him --- and then said that the French network was further insulting not just 25 million Iraqis but 4 million Iraqi exiles who hated Saddam. Nothing ever like it on French TV that I can remember --- and I've been watching it for decades. Generally, despite improvements in the freedom with which the state-run TV and radio can report domestic events ---- within limits still discernible, mind you (kid gloves treatment of any Minister invited, and few outside experts, the French having suspicions still, certainly the elites in charge anyway --- France is a state run by an elite civil service for the most part --- that an expert who doesn't agree with them isn't ideologically motivated or full of malice
Expect some heads to roll in the upshot at the 2nd TV network.
Because look . . . the technocratic civil servant Mandarins in charge of France --- supplying most of the Ministers in every government, and the last four Presidents, running not just Ministries but the entire telecommunications systems, the post office and the postal banks, the TV and radio networks, the buses, trains, subways, electricity and gas systems, numerous nationalized industries, most of the airplane service, a huge internal security system, all the schools and universities (save for a small Catholic school system), almost all the banks (public or private), and most of the big private corporations in their retirement (pantouflage is the technical term for their outward movement to private industry and finance) --- don't like it when people and systems they like to see themselves directing and controlling don't run smoothly. And as the three investigating Magistrates who, after years of investigating the scandals and corruption around Chirac, put it when they resigned a year ago in frustration, the powerful in France are essentially beyond the reach of the legal system. There's one set of laws for ordinary Frenchmen, another for those powerful ones.
Idiot French Newspaper Heading of the Week
"Coalition Troops Committed Hitler's Mistake"
Seems to be wishful thinking, Le Figaro Chirac's favorite newspaper.
German Media Idiocy of the Week
, which combines the impact on the German educated reading public of Time, Newsweek, CNN, the New Republic, the Nation, and so on, is also a bible of German politically correct hypocrisy and staunch age-old anti-Americanism. Its coverage of the war could rival any of the French print media, and then some. Its most idiotic Felderputz soll Irakeri milde stimmen, "The Light Touch is intended to evoke a mild responsiveness from the Iraqis"
compares the finesse and indirect tactics of the British marines in and around Basra with the "Cowboy" recklessness of the American forces to the north. No mention is made of the different mission. That might actually show some awarenss of different battle tactics --- especially that the aim of the US Marines, Infantry, Cavalry and Airborne forces is to get to Baghdad as soon as possible and then destroy the regime, while the British, rightly, and using their experience in dealing with North Ireland for decades, are coping with a far different mission, complicated by Fedayeen terrorist squads and hit-and-run methods. But then German journalism, with one or two exceptions -- Die Zeit to an extent, maybe at times the Frankfurter Allgemeine --- is almost as bad as French and Italian journalism, conducted by pc ideologues who usually have never taken a class of political science, let alone international relations, or economics in their university training, itself carried out in huge mammouth universities where the standards have deteriorated almost beyond recognition compared to the pre-Nazi and pre-WWII era.
Apparently, reinforcing all these bad tendencies in most of the German media is now the preoccupation with the unique German Way in foreign policy --- a kind of all-purpose moralizing utopianism that, besides being hypocritical (it wasn't evident in the 1999 Kosovo war, when Berlin decided its security required going to war without UN approval and sending German troops into battle for the first time sinced WWII), is intended apparently to let the Germans radiate a self-righteous unctuousness that must even amuses the cynical and bottomlessly opportunistic French elites who have been exploiting that unctuousness for their own national purposes.
Fascist Regimes On the Run from the US
Noriega, the Taliban, Milosevik's Yugoslavia, the Al-Qaeda Islamofascist terrorists, Saddam Hussein --- with Syria's Mafioso fascism on one side and Iran's clerical-fascists on the other already explicitly warned to stop their meddling in Iraq or else . . . an augury to come. The further lessons of US warfare since 1990, the end of the cold war, are set out effectively by the gifted Cal State military historian, Victor Davis Hanson:
April 1, 2003 7:30 a.m.
The American Way of War
It's not quite what we've been told.
(1) In this new age the American military does not like fascists, and it thus will unleash horrific power to eliminate autocrats like Noriega, Milosevic, the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein.
(2) It is as difficult to provoke the United States as it is to survive its eventual and tardy response. We will take months, years, even decades of slurs, random murdering of our own, terrorism, and general hostility before acting — and then in some primordial rage at last unleash firepower undreamed of to remove the odious regime.
(3) The American media and its punditry follow a predictable wartime volatility — as Gulf War I, Serbia, Afghanistan, and the present conflict attest: day-one euphoria; followed by week two of dejection and recrimination; followed by days of false knowledge; culminating in mild "I told you sos" as peace seems nearer. Confidence in victory is never as strong as despair on rumors of quagmire. The stronger our military, the more likely grow the doubts of our elites.
(4) There is no typical "American Way of War" anymore in the textbook sense of traditional armored drives supported by overwhelming firepower. George Patton would smile on our current ride northward as would Ulysses S. Grant admire the hammer and tongs that batter Baghdad. A Swamp Fox would also praise the special forces in Kurdistan, but then so would Hap Arnold like the bombing campaign, Admiral King the naval broadsides, and Admiral Nimitz our marvelous carriers . . . ."
German Government Begins to Reconsider the Wisdom of Its Anti-American Stance
In part, its reconsidering it apparently for the same reasons the French government's official line has been that it naturally wants the US and UK to win. Naturally
. A lot of money is at stake in rebuilding Iraq, and Germany and France are the country's biggest exporters and investors. Unlike the French, however, the German government is also reacting out of a nervous sense throughout much of the informed public that it went too far, that the US is the most important ally of the Germans, and that Schroeder, who has played the anti-US card for political reasons and maybe out of conviction, worries about political backlashes now.
Analysis: Schroeder wants to mend fences
By Jordan Bonfante
From the International Desk
Published 4/1/2003 3:34 PM
BERLIN, April 1 (UPI) -- Far from the Iraq battlefields, here among the lakes and woodlands of central Europe's northern plateau, early spring can still come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. Well, at least a domesticated ram.Later this week Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder plans to deliver a government statement updating Germany's foreign policy. He is expected to call on the splintered European Union to close ranks over Iraq.
He is likely to endorse a large United Nations role in its rebuilding. And if he follows recent scripts, he will adopt a surprisingly softer tone toward the United States: no more castigation of American "adventurism", no more kicking at the Atlantic Alliance with shrill claims about an independent "German way". The signs are that Berlin is seeking to mend fences with Washington and start to heal the most serious Atlantic breach in 30 years. . . .
On Sunday, the secretary-general of Schroeder's Social Democratic Party made it clear that the SPD leadership was now anything but neutral about the war in Iraq, flatly declaring that "the United States and Great Britain are and remain our bonded allies. We wish them success."
. . . . What accounts for the nuanced but unmistakable shift? Two things: the war is on, and the German elections that originally induced Schroeder to play the peace card, first in September and again for two regional votes in February, are over. Foreign policy, as a result, is said to be back in the hands of Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and his professional diplomats instead of Schroeder's political advisers.
"The government is realizing that the war is on, that there is no sense any longer in fighting yesterday's political battles, and that we have to start moving in a direction where we can start rebuilding trans-Atlantic relations," says Bernhard May, a prominent expert at the German Foreign Policy Society in Berlin. "The Atlantic crisis -- and a crisis it is -- has made many people nervous," he added. "Policy makers here recognize that the United States is our most important ally. It is pure and simply No. 1. The talk about a French-German-Russian alliance that would somehow replace the Atlantic partnership--a senseless idea--that made us very nervous."
Others like Josef Joffe, the well-known editor of Die Zeit, believe there's also a fair dose of realpolitik in play. "There are indications that Berlin is beginning to reconsider its hard stand against the USA," Joffe commented in Berlin's daily Tagesspiegel. "One also hears here and there that Germany is thinking about joining in Iraq's rebuilding -- for the purely real-political reason of making sure it has a say in shaping the future."
Whatever steps Schroeder takes to improve relations with Washington, however, will have to be on tiptoe. Public opposition to the U.S. war remains formidable. Polls show that 80 percent of Germans -- 90 percent in eastern Germany -- are opposed to it. . . . Further moves will also come slowly and cautiously because a profound rethinking is just getting underway. "Many in Europe ultimately underestimated the effect of September 11 as an America-altering event," concludes May. "We should have taken more seriously the extent to which it was to change American society and change American foreign policy," he says. "Now the war is forcing us to recognize what an impact it has had and to start coming to grips with it."
A Clarifying Set of Events, This War: The Idiocies of the Middle East studies specialists at Columbia University --- the stronghold of politically correct types around Edward Said, who, alas, can be duplicated at large numbers of other Middle East Centers (funded generously, most of the time, by Saudi money).
Columbia VS. America
by Daniel Pipes and Jonathan Calt Harris
New York Post
April 1, 2003
"U.S. flags are the emblem of the invading war machine in Iraq today. They are the emblem of the occupying power. The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military."
Those words were spoken last week by Nicholas De Genova, a professor of anthropology and Latin American studies at Columbia University. De Genova went on, in words that will long shame his university, to call on U.S. soldiers to "frag" (i.e., murder) their officers and to wish "for a million Mogadishus," referring to the 1993 ambush in Somalia that left 18 U.S. soldiers dead and 84 wounded.
He wants 18 million dead Americans?
Columbia's administration distanced itself from De Genova (he "does not in any way represent" the university's views) and other professors criticized him - but his remarks are hardly the rude exception to the usual discourse of the faculty at that university. For one: Tom Paulin, a visiting professor at Columbia this academic year, has stated that Brooklyn-born Jews "should be shot dead" if they live on the West Bank.
More broadly, plenty of other Columbia professors share De Genova's venomous feelings for the United States, though they stop short of calling for the deaths of Americans.
* Eric Foner, Dewitt Clinton professor of American history, sees the U.S. government as a habitual aggressor: "Our notion of ourselves as a peace-loving republic is flawed. We've used military force against many, many nations, and in very few of those cases were we attacked or threatened with attack."
* Edward Said, university professor, calls the U.S. policy in Iraq a "grotesque show" perpetrated by a "small cabal" of unelected individuals who hijacked U.S. policy. He accuses "George Bush and his minions" of hiding their imperialist grab for "oil and hegemony" under a false intent to build democracy and human rights.
Said deems Operation Iraqi Freedom "an abuse of human tolerance and human values" waged by an "avenging Judeo-Christian god of war." This war, he says, fits into a larger pattern of America "reducing whole peoples, countries and even continents to ruin by nothing short of holocaust."
* Rashid Khalidi, who will hold the Edward Said chair of Middle East Studies starting in the fall, used the term "idiots' consensus" to describe the wide support for reversing Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and called on his colleagues to combat it. After 9/11, he admonished the media to drop its "hysteria about suicide bombers."
* Gary Sick, acting director of the Middle East Institute, alleges that Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980 by conspiring with the Ayatollah Khomeini to keep the U.S. hostages in Iran. He apologizes for the Iranian government (it "has been meticulous in complying with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty") and blames Washington for having "encouraged Iran to proceed" with building nuclear weapons.
Sick opposes letting U.S. victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism collect large damages against Tehran. More generally, he sees the Bush administration as "belligerent" and his fellow Americans as "insufferable."
* George Saliba, professor of Arabic and Islamic Science, routinely interrupts his class with political rants, leading one student to observe that it is "continuously insulting" to attend his lectures and another to complain about his course (on the subject of an "Introduction to Islamic Civilization," of all things) degenerating into a forum for railing against "evil America."
* Joseph Massad, assistant professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History, seems to blame every ill in the Arab world on the United States. Poverty results from "the racist and barbaric policies" of the American-dominated International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The absence of democracy is the fault of "ruling autocratic elites and their patron, the United States." Militant Islamic violence results from "U.S. imperialist aggression."
Such sentiments coming from leading lights of the Columbia professorate suggest that De Genova fits very well into his institution. He just made the mistake of blurting out the logical conclusion of the anti-Americanism forwarded by some of his colleagues.
This self-hatred points to an intellectual crisis at a school long considered one of the country's best. Alumni, parents of students and other friends of the university should first acknowledge this reality, then take steps to fix it.
Edward Said, the guru-founder of cultural studies who has systematically lied about his background --- he claimed to have been thrust out of his ancestral home in Jerusalem by the Israelis in 1948, only it turns out to have been the son of an American-Arab millionaire who grew up in the jet-set, private tennis-court set of Cairo --- has done little more to justify his status among the pc cultural left, about as dismal a group of ideologues as could be found outside Mao's Red Guard thugs, than write a bad polemic called Orientalism
that contained so many factual errors, never mind silly muddled interpretations, that Bernard Lewis
, possibly the greatest scholar of Islam since WWII, essentially said in a long review that he would give the book about a C- in a graduate seminar. No matter. It was enough for the pc types to be informed that anybody other than a Muslim himself had no right to interpret Islam, and that any efforts at systematic comparative work on Arab life or politics by westerners was a form of cultural imperialism serving the US and British master-imperialists, for them to flip out in delight at the interpretation. Now Said, a professor of English at Columbia (see above), has himself flipped out so far into self-induced hallucination that he has informed the Arab world that the Bush administration is not just tumbling into fascist-like frenzies, but preparing to overthrow the US Constitution in a putsch during the 2004 electoral campaign. See Said Gone Ape
Besides the lengthy demolition-job on Said that Lewis gave Orientalism
, a more up-to-date review, equally devastating, is by Keith Windshuttle in the New Criterion
: last year. As for the apologetics that Said has helped inspire in the Arab world, as well as among US Middle East scholars, recall that a group of free-thinking Arab intellectuals produced a scorching study last year, the UN Arab Development Report 2002
, that located the economic backwardness, state failures and despotism, subjugation of women, rife illiteracy, and failures to come to terms with modern knowledge and science, not in US or UK or European imperialism, but in home-grown failures and problems.
As for the Said claim that only Muslims have a right to interpret Muslims and the Muslim countries, that seems odd for an Arab Christian (Said himself), but all the same who could disagree? After all, by that standard, only Nazis have a right to interpret the Third Reich, Stalinists the Soviet gulag system, Pol Potters the killing fields of Cambodia, and flat-earthers the brillliant studies that show how space satellites are misleading the people of the world as they orbit around in circles above the flat earth by sending back doctored-up digital photos of a globe moving around the sun in its solar system.
If, in truth, the military did not know about what the feydayeen were doing in the weeks before the war, I would say that they had a shortcoming in their intelligence network. Also, in their problems with checkpoints I wonder if they have enough people with language experience to help them out.
I do believe that sometimes Americans have an overconfidence in technological advantage, and don't have enough coverage in things like personal relationships and language skills, the spy network if you want to call it that. Not so much a spy network to find out government secrets, but people who can tell you which way the winds are blowing. I think that was one of the factors that led to the WTC- we had no idea of the hatred that would lead some people to do this.