No joy to greet allies in Iraq (op-ed)
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|Sun, 03-30-2003 - 11:37am|
>"I got it wrong - very wrong. True, I wasn't the only one and if the American tactics had been different I might not have been so wrong after all. But Saddam Hussein's forces have not crumbled quickly, and ordinary Iraqis have not greeted the coalition as their liberators. Instead, there is a growing danger they will see the allies as enemies - as bad, indeed, as Saddam himself.
This, you will remember, was the war which was fought because (as US Vice-President Dick Cheney told the Saudi Foreign Minister) it was "do-able". And although American spokesmen insist President George Bush himself never said the war would be quick, a leading Israeli journalist has reported that Washington assured the Israeli Government it would be over in five days.
Well, I thought it would be seven, so I'm in no position to carp."<
>"So what do the soldiers on the Iraqi front line think, as they dig their foxholes and prepare their defences? According to intelligence reports, and to the deserters who come across to the Kurdish side, it is something that has probably never occurred to the Americans: they seem to believe Washington doesn't really want to get rid of Saddam at all, but merely to weaken him and keep him in place, just as happened in 1991.
You and I know this isn't true, but it is a view that is becoming widespread within the territory Saddam still controls. Iraqis share the assessment of American power that Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz have: that the US can do anything. If the Americans haven't destroyed Saddam's power structure, it's because they don't want to.
The origins of this, like so much else, go back to the last Gulf War. The decision George Bush snr took in March 1991 to withhold coalition help from the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunni Muslims who rose up against Saddam after Bush himself had called on them to rebel is something no one in Iraq has forgotten.
If, Iraqis reason, the father decided that he wanted, on balance, to keep Saddam in power 12 years ago, maybe the son will want the same thing, whatever he may say now."<
>"Whoever drops the bombs, they're only falling because there is a war; and they don't blame Saddam for that war, they blame the Americans and the British."<