[From my pre-weblog, 24 March 2003]
never thought I’d get to see an actual good old-fashioned imperialistic war myself, the kind they used to have in the nineteenth century, but here we are. The US invaded a small country on the flimsiest of pretexts, out of fear that the government of that country might choose to use its weapons of mass destruction some time or other (weapons which it claims—though without verification—to have destroyed), or it might pass on said weapons to a third party, perhaps a terrorist group with which it is on the most unfriendly of terms. Coincidentally the country in question happens to have the second largest known reserves of oil, the substance that still runs all the world’s economies. It’s a bit thick, no matter how you cut it—and I say that as a long-time hater and despiser of all things Saddam Hussein, even back when he was our friend and ally.
The invasion seems to me to be going fairly well, all things considered, though apparently the public (at least) was surprised that the Iraqis didn’t welcome the troops with open arms. More disturbing are the reports that the Bush II administration was surprised by this. All you have to do is put yourself in their shoes—are they going to welcome an invader? Or rather rally behind their leader, bad as he may be? The answer to me at least seems obvious. One Iraqi (an expatriate I think) observed that he was all for liberating Iraq; he just felt that the Iraqis should do it themselves. I would expect that to be the attitude.
Also disturbing is this bizarre insistence by the US authorities that Saddam Hussein is too dead or wounded, no matter how many times he appears on TV. Maybe they know what they’re talking about, and when all the cards are on the table we’ll see that they were right all along, but right now it’s embarrassing. It looks to me, and I think to the world, like Rumsfeld (or whoever was responsible for that hare-brained gun-jumping that started the invasion) is determined to justify the decision somehow, and just can’t admit that it didn’t pay off. I admit that I was suspicious of that first appearance myself, but the explanation is getting more and more strained to explain subsequent appearances. Sure, maybe Hussein anticipated his death or injury and put together a series of taped appearances in advance, allowing for different possible future scenarios, but gee whiz, how many people would actually do that? I might, maybe, but it’s not the normal approach. Anyway I wish they’d drop it and move on.
The Iraqis have been handling their press conferences fairly well up to now, with their making good their claims of having prisoners of war, and a downed helicopter, and so on and so forth. But today one of the officials announced that the Americans were running away from battles, which doesn’t even seem like good propaganda to me, in that we can see them on TV (thanks to the “embedded” journalists) and they’re not running. Lots of other screwed up things are happening (as they do in war) but not that.
And another thing—this “shock and awe” campaign sure seems to have fizzled. At the very least it has failed to live up to the advance booking, and I frankly think it has been a colossal failure, no matter how much the authorities claim otherwise. But the troops continue to advance, and the invasion grinds on, and really, things seem to me to be in pretty good shape.