Man Without Qualities

Monday, March 24, 2003

Remembering Desert Storm I

For some reason, the completely predictable - and widely predicted - Iraqi resistance has caused many people to re-evaluate their belief that the war will be a short cake walk.

We are now again warned by the media of the likelihood of street-to-street resistance in Baghdad. But even if this is a "war of liberation" in the sense that a majority of the Iraqi people would welcome the removal of the Hussein dictatorship in favor of a government installed by some American-supported procedure, one would not expect Baghdad to welcome American forces the way Paris did. Hussein is, after all, a domestic ruler with sufficient support among the Iraqi people to hold on to power. If even, say, 20% of Iraqis support Hussein and, say 80% are indifferent or outright hostile to him, that still leaves plenty of room for nasty street-to-street resistance in Baghdad.

Maybe widespread nasty street-to-street resistance in Baghdad will happen - and maybe it won't.

But at this point, perhaps it is time to reconsider that critics of the 1991 decision not to take Baghdad often seem to assume that such a task would have been pretty easy, given what had already happened in Kuwait. Well, the current march from Kuwait was pretty easy at first, and now there is lots of hand wringing about how much harder Baghdad will be.

Consistent with the current anxiety cloud and "new understanding," shouldn't the critics of the 1991 decision be trimming their sails a bit?

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