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U.S. Sinks Deeper Into Iraq Quicksand
Iraqi insurgents' war of attrition forces Americans to grope in the desert
Alex Argote (alexphil)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2006-03-19 20:30 (KST)   
Three years ago this week the combined might of the land, sea, and air forces of the most powerful empire in the world launched a blitzkrieg against the technologically inferior armies of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Being the most covered military expedition in history, it was show time for the United States to feature the awesome capabilities of its mighty war machine to the rest of the world. In anticipation of intense action, embedded news reporters often accompanied forward combat units to enable them to feed live coverage of battles to a news-hungry audience.

Thanks to the live coverage of several television companies, hundreds of millions of viewers around the world enjoyed the marvels of modern and high technology warfare in the comfort of their homes. From the very first fireball of a surgical air strike in the city of Baghdad to the magnificent tank battles and infantry assaults in the deserts of Iraq, millions of armchair "war analysts" carefully dissected the U.S. military adventure.

To be historically correct, the present conflict in Iraq is actually known as the Third Persian gulf war considering that the country fought an almost intermittent 8-year war in the 1980s with neighboring Iran. The second gulf war erupted when Saddam Hussein claimed Kuwait as a runaway province of Iraq and sent his forces to overrun the tiny, but wealthy, emirate. Saddam's bullying prompted the then U.S. President George Bush Sr. to bring in the U.S. military version of desert storm to drive the Iraqis from Kuwait.

However, Saddam Hussein showed to the world his ultimate savagery by implementing a scorched-earth policy by destroying and torching thousands of Kuwaiti oilfields in an effort to thwart and distract the Americans' attention from their objective. To prevent massive ecological damage, the U.S. spent billions just to cap and extinguish those deadly oil fires that temporarily blocked the sun.

On March 20, 2003, a coalition of several countries, consisting primarily of the United Kingdom and U.S., finally launched the invasion of Iraq after the country allegedly failed to destroy its weapons of mass destruction.

After neutralizing the Taliban clerics of Afghanistan, President George W. Bush repeatedly put pressure on Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq and put a halt to his country's nuclear weapons research program. The U.S. believed that the Iraqis illegally possessed WMD and should disarm at once since they violated U.N. Security Council resolution 1441.

Despite a veto by the U.N., the "coalition of the willing," as Bush called his allies, proceeded with the invasion. On March 20 he gave the green light to subdue Iraq and institute a regime change by toppling Saddam from power.

As expected, the Iraqi military was defeated and most of its regiments simply disintegrated before coalition forces without a shot being fired and melted in among the populace. The Americans captured Baghdad on April 9, 2003 and on May 1 President Bush declared the cessation of all major combat operations.

But even before the U.S.-led invasion, millions of people around the globe were protesting loudly against any incursion into the land of ancient Mesopotamia.

A raging debate circulated in educated circles as to the veracity of the "Iraqi weapons of mass destruction" which the Bush administration always stressed. A school of thought formed in the periphery accusing the U.S. of using WMD as a pretext of controlling the lucrative oil fields of Iraq.

In glaring contrast to their "cakewalk" into the country, American forces are now locked in a deadly invisible war with tenacious guerilla factions who are harassing the thinly spread U.S. reserve conscripts that are keeping the peace and order in the face of a power vacuum in Iraq. Maintaining the peace in that war-torn country has not been an easy task however, and it seems that the real fight has only begun.

Iraq is now sliding nearer into a full-blown civil war. As U.S. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, pointed out, "The Iraq invasion opened up a 'Pandora's box' of sectarian conflicts, which could lead to a regional war and the rise of religious extremists who would make Taliban Afghanistan look like child's play. All it would take would be another devastating attack on a holy site."

Iraqis are made up of several religious groups that co-existed in relative peace under the iron rule of strongman Saddam Hussein. Now an uneasy calm is breaking up amid a simmering Sunni and Shiite conflict.

In the absence of a central political control, the specter of a bloody sectarian conflict is looming as revenge killings come to light. Only recently, more than 80 bodies, a majority of whom are believed to be Sunni, were found. They were probably slain in revenge for an attack on a Shiite market, even though Shiite clerics refrained from ordering retaliation. Each group has been accusing Khalilzad of supporting the other.

Given the direct circumstances of U.S. actions in initiating regime change in Iraq, it is now time to review the possibilities of seeking a way out of the morass that has become of an otherwise simple military operation of restoring democracy to a region long under a dictatorship.

Both the U.S. and Iraq have bled miserably as the costly and brutal conflict drags on with no end in sight. Almost a million Iraqis have been killed and maimed by indiscriminate bombings and shootings that have become common occurrences in the devastated country. Thousands of American raw recruits continue to return home in body bags as the death toll rises. If public opinion suddenly opposes the battle for a democratic Iraq, those painful deaths could be in vain.

A U.S. pullout now is still unlikely given the fierce resistance movement being offered by the Iraqi guerillas. Although the Americans are training a future local army and police against the time when they will have to leave, the Iraqi security forces are still no match to the determined and well-motivated rebels.

As the world's policeman remains stuck in the volatile Persian Gulf region, humanity can only pray that the potential powder keg does not blow up and consume civilization.
Three years after the start of the War in Iraq, do you think the Iraqi people are better off?  (2006-03-19 ~ 2006-03-26)
Yes
No
I don't know
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Alex Argote

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