Jewish World Review April 10, 2003 / 8 Nisan, 5763

David Warren

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The new day


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Despite what you've seen on TV, the war in Iraq is not yet over. The mopping up should take quite a few weeks, and paradoxically, casualties may be higher during this phase, as U.S. and allied troops root out the remaining cells of the Fedayeen Saddam, Republican Guard "dead-enders", and some thousands of Palestinian, Syrian, and other foreign terrorists and death squads. They have no reason to give up: for they know, as the world is beginning to know, that the Iraqi people will kill them if the allied military doesn't get them first.

Nor is the danger from chemical and biological weapons removed; and the possibility of their use by suicide terrorists on troops that have taken their gas masks off is ever-present.

The purely military battle for Tikrit and several northern cities should be fairly straightforward. The failure of the Iraqi command, or what's left of it, to surrender these cities, is the latest of innumerable indications of the kind of savages the allies are fighting: people truly determined to march body and soul into hell. And as Al Jazeera has demonstrated, they remain heroes to half the Arab world.

But not to the Iraqis: and it is Iraq, immediately, that has to be rebuilt. The U.S. army in Baghdad, Karbala, Naziriyah, Najaf, and the British in Basra, are moving very promptly into occupation mode, working tirelessly to fix what is -- thanks to their ingenious methods of attack -- only lightly damaged infrastructure. Water and electricity would seem to be flowing to all but a few neighbourhoods across the country.

In the short run, the looting of government offices is unstoppable, together with some settling of scores. A regime that has murdered at least one member of almost every extended family in Iraq, and terrorized the living for three decades, will attract reprisals. In the words of one Baghdadi, "I lost my brother and two cousins, I am owed at least a refrigerator."

There are serious practical problems in cleaning up, beyond the pockets of dead-enders. The chief one is the brilliant success of the invasion itself. It would appear that the collapse of the regime in Baghdad has happened slightly ahead of the most optimistic expectations, and the additional 100,000 or so troops needed for the labour-intensive occupation duty are mostly still on their way.

Compounding this is the complete disintegration of the Iraqi military. As I understand, the U.S. was planning to put men from at least some surrendered units back in the field as peace-keepers, under allied commanders and receiving U.S. pay. But while there are now many thousand prisoners to choose from, it does not appear they will be any use; for discipline and morale in Iraq's regular army was even worse than the allies anticipated.

Saddam Hussein had 30 years to make Iraq unliveable; naturally people such as the West's peace marchers in street and media expect the U.S. military to put it right in 30 minutes.

But compensating for the difficulties, at least for the immediate future, the people of Iraq are deliriously happy. They will loot, and hang the odd Saddamite from a lamp-pole -- just as the French did with Nazis and collaborators in 1945, and many other nations in similar circumstances -- but there is also at large a spirit of co-operation. And the conditions of daily life have actually improved with the removal of the regime.

Over the last nine months, and with increasing urgency, the Bush administration has been grappling with the problem of post-war Iraqi governance. Many of the plans remain secret, for the same reason battle plans are secret -- to prevent the enemy from defeating them. However, the main outline can be discerned.

It became clear from the joint statement of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair in Northern Ireland that the United Nations will be offered only a minor role, chiefly delivering humanitarian aid. It should be obvious to every observer (though it is not) that the U.N. demonstrated an organizational malice towards the U.S. and Britain in the run-up to the war, that puts it beyond trusting for the peace ahead.

The announced summit in St. Petersburg of the leaders of the anti-American coalition -- Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder, and Vladimir Putin, gathering to discuss their strategy with Kofi Annan -- tells the whole story.

France, Germany, and Russia were, with Syria, the four countries most heavily invested in the Saddamite regime, and they will be seeking to recover their interests. In particular they will want the extensive oil concessions Saddam promised them, and to collect the many billions of dollars Saddam owed them for his weapons and infrastructure -- from the Iraqi people Saddam brutalized. They can only do this through the U.N., not through any imaginable new Iraqi government. As a matter of elementary justice, they must be prevented from collecting; and so the allies are morally bound to keep the U.N.'s dirty hands off Iraq. The cost of that will be listening to the French, Germans, Russians, and the international "peace" constituency throwing pink fits.

The behaviour of Canada's government has also qualified us to be cut out of Iraq's remunerative future. But again, it will be an Iraqi administration steering reconstruction work away from their perceived enemies, and towards their perceived friends.

Agents of the Iraqi National Congress under Ahmed Chalabi -- the umbrella group of all Iraqi political parties committed to democracy -- have already been dispatched throughout liberated Iraq. They are linking up with surviving local authority figures. The Kurds were already self-governing; the Shia (who are 60 per cent of the population) have the elements of civil administration within their mosques. At this stage, the crucial work is purely local.

The basic national administration will be provided by the allied force under Army General Tommy Franks, which will be trying to reactivate the civil ministries in Baghdad, while initiating an extensive program of de-Baathification, modelled on the de-Nazification of Germany.

It will take, according to the Pentagon's Paul Wolfowitz who has been overseeing much of this planning in Washington, about six months to create the constitutional instruments for native Iraqi rule. The complementary U.S. and allied military and civil presence will remain (in diminishing numbers) for about two years after that. Except, fairly large U.S. bases will remain indefinitely, for Iraq has just become the United States' principal Arab ally within the new Middle East.

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JWR contributor David Warren is a Columnist for the Ottawa Citizen. Comment by clicking here.

04/08/02: Bagpipes in Baghdad
03/31/02: Behind
03/28/02: The triple war
03/26/02: Shields & lances
03/24/02: Shock & awe
03/21/02: To Baghdad!
03/19/02: Hostage crisis
03/17/02: Bush, the "UN's cowboy," is really the "un cowboy" --- a softie
03/17/02: United? Nations?
03/12/02: Blair goes wobbly
03/10/02: Ready aye ready
03/06/02: Logic of war
02/10/02: Play up, play up
01/30/02: No ambiguity
12/05/02: A farce
11/13/02: A game of chess
10/30/02: Material breach
10/21/02: Armed & dangerous
09/11/02: The enemy within
08/21/02: Bush v. world
08/06/02: Has Sharon gone 'wobbly'?
07/24/02: Evil Sharon
06/19/02: The end is nigh
06/17/02: Those darn American imperialists!

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