A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Monday, November 03, 2003 :::
Yet One More Way to Account for the Fall of Baghdad

Iraq keeps intruding on our consciousness. As we were the ones who went in and stirred things up, that is natural and fitting. But it is amazing how all the stuff just keeps coming.

A fascinating story this morning in the Washington Post recounts how Tariq Aziz--for most of us the public face of Saddam's reign of terror, now a permanent guest of the US government--accounts for the lack of military opposition to invading US forces: Saddam thought we were incompetent weaklings and he would win. That certainly accounts for everything.

And it makes the targeted looting a spur-of-the-moment inspiration instead part of a war plan.

The story certainly makes sense, but it also makes sense that everything Aziz has told investigators makes Aziz himself out to be a both a strategic genius and an earnest supporter of international law. So make of it what you will.

It remains true that someone, or some people, seem to have begun a systematic effort to eradicate the records of Saddam's horrors right at our moment of seeming victory, and that the opposition has reorganized, probably with the help of al-Qaeda and every other thuggish revolutionary group. And Saddam is probably at the center of it, leaving aside the question of what his "allies" plan to do with him if they succeed in wearing down the vast majority of Iraqis who were glad to see Saddam go and want us to stay until the job is finished.

The other interesting detail is that, according to Aziz, the French and Russians actively persuaded him that he had nothing to fear from the US. Let us remember that, at the same time, the French were forcing the Turks not to help us, and a little before that they were telling Donald Rumsfeld to his face that they were going to thwart any US led effort to fight terrorism. That was in October 2001.

Read that date again.

So it looks as if the French, who have really disreputable ties to the Ba'ath Party, were playing both ends against the middle. They were going to get rid of Saddam--by telling him he did not have to fight the US--and they created an international climate where their own financial claims were met.

And they wonder why people call them "cynical."

Many conservative commentators are swearing up and down that the widespread attacks during Ramadan (also spelled "Rammadan") are nothing compared to the progress that we are making there. That seems likely, but we need to be resolute in facing the danger, and we need to have enough troops to do so. The egregious Sec. Rumsfeld reiterated his opposition to sending more troops. We also need to see and hear our President, and we are not. Two really, truly, in every way bad decisions by this Administration.

The almost-indispensible Post, displaying its usual instinct for the jugular, has played up Mr. Rumsfeld's statement that such events as the death by rocket-launched agony of 15 of our boys, plus more wounded, were "necessary." Actually, he didn't say that, but that is what the initial headlines said, though now they have changed. If you want to see what the man really said, you can look here and judge for yourself, and, probably should. But the interesting question is whether he can survive the blatantly biased spin. How do you tell a grieving mother that her son's death was "necessary?" Or the mothers of the surviving, when they read the words of an eyewitness describing how one young man crawled from the wreckage with his legs burning?

It will be a sign of how the public is taking the "long, hard slog" that Mr. Rumsfeld finally admitted we are in. His bluntness is also a sign of the man's intrinsic hardness. That is a virtue, in a warrior, but it is a two-edged sword, and Post reporters love playing with that..

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 11:58 AM



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