If American and other military strategists learned anything from the Vietnam conflict, it is that guerilla warfare cannot be beaten with conventional tactics. The statement by Gen. John Abizaid, a high ranking military official, to The New York Times stating the incidents in Iraq now resemble a “classical guerilla-type campaign” should, therefore, not be underestimated in their importance. Far from being an economic bonanza, post-war Iraq is starting to resemble a major military commitment.
Since the declaration by President George W. Bush that “the major fighting is over” on May 1st, more than 30 Americans have been killed, which would make it obvious that the statement, along with the photo-op on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, was premature. The fighting has moved to a different modus operandi, but is far from over. It is also safe to say that Bush’s post-war goading of Iraqi militants saying, “bring them on” might not have been exactly a good idea.
Donald Rumsfeld said last Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, “I’m afraid we’re going to have to expect this to go on,” which is also the reason he announced the budget for all operations in Iraq to be raised from the projected $2 billion a year to $3.9 billion a year.
American troops have been committed to Iraq and are there to stay indefinitely — as troops were not exactly happy to hear during the past few days — but this was to be expected. This was not to be a short “shock and awe” bonanza that is over in a matter of weeks, but will involve nation building and an American military presence for years. The numbers may go down over time from the 150,000 currently stationed there, but it will be a gradual effort.
The first steps were made last weekend to establish an interim governing body in Iraq. But even as the first meeting took place, a car exploded outside.
Nation-building in Iraq, despite all America’s money, resources and military might is going to be a long haul, whether we like it or not. Yet another reason to carefully re-examine the arguments that lead to the United States embarking on this costly undertaking.
If the alleged manipulation of intelligence information turns out to be nothing more than an error, at least we will know and can focus on rebuilding a nation. If intelligence known to be false was presented to Congress to sway their support for this conflict then the President and other involved high-ranking officials must be held accountable.