Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Bitter Victory

Exclusive commentary by Martin Kelly
July 14, 2003

A war that was fought to free the Iraqi people has been won in every respect but one. The people themselves do not seem to wish to be free. Going to war to defeat your enemies must have a tangible result – the crushing of the opposition, the abject defeat of the people, the ability to start anew. However, allied victory in Iraq is proving to be a bitter victory. This is not as a result of lack of competence. It is as a result of a lack of will to wage the war to its ultimate and proper conclusion.
All know that wars are not fought lightly. The responsibility of committing your best young men and women to an endeavour from which they might not return must be crushing. However, when faced with an enemy opposing it in the field, the United States of America does now not lose wars. In this respect it is unique in history. Its military prowess is such that victory is guaranteed. The USA was part of the alliances that won World Wars One & Two. The President’s advisers have not learned the lessons of these wars. The Iraqi Alliance is trying to act like the occupiers of Germany after the Second World War, while the people they are occupying have an attitude to life shared by the Imperial Japanese. These two contrasts, the manner of the occupation and the attitude of the occupied, is now resulting in almost daily loss of life, mostly young American life, and the political implications for George W. Bush for not sorting this out now could be catastrophic.
A good example of how this policy is failing comes from the Brit side. The British press assumes that the GI is a coward, as he wears a lot of body armour and is usually armed to the teeth when out and about in Baghdad. In the town of Majar –al –Kabir, six British military policemen have been killed holding out in a tatty wee police station, a last stand that must have resembled the Alamo in its bloodiness. The MP’s, mostly from the North of England, had been trying to engage the population in a friendly way. They had entered an ‘agreement’ with the town chieftain that they would respect local religious and cultural traditions, i.e. no sniffer dogs and don’t strip-search the females. Indeed, the media descriptions of life in Majar-al-Kabir after the massacre seem to show that the Majaris were receiving a higher and more visible standard of policing than any applied in England, as our appalling crime statistics attest. The Parachute Regiment, not known for its lightness of touch, entered several houses with dogs looking for weapons. This was perceived as a breach of the agreement. Six MP’s are dead as a result.
A seminal essay I have referred to before is called ‘The Slyer Virus: The West’s anti-Westernism’, authored by the Canadian journalist Mark Steyn for the February 2002 issue of ‘New Criterion’ magazine. In this essay, Steyn gives an example of the techniques the British used to conquer India. One of these was that when an office entered a village where suttee, widow burning, was practiced, the officer advised that it would be a good idea to stop it as the British hanged chaps who did things like that. It’s not acceptable to hang people anymore. However, if Scott Sullivan can do the perp walk why can’t Tariq Aziz? Why can’t Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf? Why can’t Mrs. Anthrax? Why can’t there be a Nuremberg trial for these people? Why must the burden of all moral responsibility fall upon the Americans? Why must America and its recent Presidents almost act almost apologetically for its desire to ensure that all people live as they live, free from tyranny?
The President bears direct responsibility for this. Firstly, there is the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction. American and British forces have been in command of this country for nearly three months. If there is any information to be had that is safe to disseminate and will not harm the security of either country, relating to the threat posed by any Iraqi weapon of mass destruction, now is the time for it to be made available. Conservatives want to see Republicans in the White House. They want to see Republicans acting like Republicans, men like Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan, as opposed to Democrats, men like Carter and Clinton. If Bill Clinton had been prosecuting this war, he would have been equivocating and obfuscating about the presence of WMD’s. He would not come out and say ‘I was wrong’. That’s the mark of a man. I think George W. Bush is a man. He should behave accordingly.
The President seems to think that he will somehow win over the Democrat National Committee and the leader writers of the New York Times by trying to prosecute this war in a politically correct way. I have the greatest respect for the scholarship of Victor Davis Hanson of the National Review Online, and agree profoundly with his view that it is ludicrous to expect all Iraqi services to be restored within hours of victory. However, I disagree profoundly with him that at the moment there is any sign that this situation will improve.
Any conservative’s most hated word should be the word ‘quagmire’ because of the heavy use the liberal press makes of it in connection with any military action the USA undertakes. The quagmire most frequently referred to is the quagmire of Vietnam. What affected the prosecution of that dreadful war not the impact of the media, but the lack of political will to prosecute it to its appropriate conclusion, the invasion and conquest of North Vietnam. If Richard Nixon or LBJ had decided to attack the North, dare anyone wonder whether the Chinese would have come to Ho Chi Minh’s aid? Although Mao was a bellicose fiend, he was also a pragmatist. His was the disgusting pragmatism of Stalin and Eichmann, but he knew that he couldn’t beat the USA in open confrontation. The terrorist threat now facing the Alliance in Iraq is of the same magnitude of the kind that the Americans faced in Vietnam. It remains to be seen whether the Alliance have the guts to adhere to the maxim ‘to the victor the spoils’. They certainly seem intent on reversing the maxim that history is written by the victors.