Author`s name Michael Simpson

Half a Year After the War

Half a year ago Americans liberated Iraq from Saddam, but at the same time they deprived Iraqis of normal life
Five months ago, May 1, US President George W. Bush announced on board the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier that active military operations in Iraq were over. Even though this statement was made so long ago there is still no peace in Iraq.

Certainly, the White House would like to boast of its success in Iraq but cannot do it now. This problem is still rather painful for the US foreign policy. The effect of overthrowing Saddam Hussein is more than illusive. Even though Washington insists that only thanks to Americans and their allies the Iraqi people have got rid of the bloody tyrant, the only result of the war that is obvious now is that it caused a new wave of anti-American attitudes all over the world. When some time ago anti-American attitudes were mostly related with Islamic countries, today these attitudes are also shared by US’s European allies. These are the attitudes that prevail among ordinary people. For the time being, the authorities prefer to abstain from open confrontation with Washington as the military might the USA demonstrated in Iraq has produced a strong impression. This fact in its turn has become wonderful support to the US's political and economic influence. To tell the truth nobody doubted that the abilities of Washington in the military sphere were great, but not unlimited which was clear in the framework of the pre-war Iraqi polemics.

Washington obviously disregards the opinion of the world community. The US Administration started an extremely risky way when it took no care about the legitimacy of the war campaign in Iraq. If the campaign were a success the US's political dividends would be great: skeptics would be disgraced and nobody would further call in question the hegemony of the United States. In other words, victors need never explain.

The whole project of the Iraqi military campaign wasn’t a shady enterprise at all. That was quite clear that Iraqi army wouldn't show much resistance to the coalition troops. The violent fighting in Umm Qasr and Al-Najaf turned out to be a surprise not only for the allied command but even for those who strongly criticized the war. But the heat of the Iraqi army was enough just for a month; then the regime of Saddam Hussein started collapsing as quickly as the USA expected.

Further the situation developed rather favorably for the US Administration. As was noticed long ago, a triumphant war increases the popularity of the ruling regime as nothing else. The rating of the American president was on the rise; those who went out with anti-war protests were seen as idiots. The official propaganda performed wonderfully as majority of Americans were made believe that the war against Saddam Hussein was good deed. It was said that all protests against the Iraqi war were senseless as the Iraqi regime was a devil incarnate.

However, on the peak of its triumph the White House made a mistake which brought the previously achieved success to nothing. To be more exact, the mistake had been committed even earlier when the war was just under planning. Americans couldn't foresee what great resistance the Iraqi occupation might cause. This is unlikely that the intelligence and war experts forgot the lessons of Vietnam or the Afghani experience of the Soviet Army.  They did remember the experience but in fact they underestimated it. First of all, the USA hoped that the Iraqi people would be happy to get rid of Saddam; second, they expected it would be much easier to do away with separate partisan groups in Iraqi deserts than in the Vietnamese jungle or Afghani mountains.

Little attention was paid to first publications about attacks at coalition soldiers because they were considered to be sallies organized by Saddam's followers, a rather scanty group. But as the resistance increased, the occupation administration and Washington asked themselves a question what was to be done next. It should be mentioned here that each report on attacks at American soldiers influenced negatively the chances of George W. Bush to win presidency for the second period.

If we look closely at the reports on attacks at the military committed in Iraq, we may see that these are mostly reports about American soldiers being attacked. The area where the attacks are committed oftener is the territory called "the Sunite triangle" in central Iraq between the cities of Tikrit, Fallujah and Baqubah. People from the area used to be the support of the overthrown regime and suffered most of all when it was down. Those people became the key locomotive power of the resistance.

No matter what the Pentagon says, the US Army wasn't ready for this large-scale resistance. If so, no effective methods for dealing with the resistance had been invented either. The coalition command employed the same methods the Russian army had employed in Chechnya, special mopping-up operations. The effectiveness and the humanity of the method can be disputed. Still that was the only method the coalition military had at their disposal at that time. It's no good to argue about humanity when you may be shot at any possible moment.

The occupation authorities with Paul Bremer at head are doing their best to normalize the situation in Iraq. A provisional managing council was made of Saddam's opponents and of Iraqis who had held top positions under the former regime. Even before the war broke out, Washington expected to win the low and the middle sector of Ba'ath party over to its side. The idea is still popular now, but it is unlikely it may be a success. Majority of the Iraqi people don't understand why they must obey people who have been representatives of Saddam Hussein not long ago and who are no longer the regime. As for the opposition, people of the opposition provisional council have enjoyed (and don't enjoy even now) authority among the Iraqi people. This is quite understandable that people who are in fact occupants are treated like this.

To be continued