02 November 2006
How did the Iraqi resistance begin?
Boris Johnson, the Tory MP for Henley, has an interesting article in Today's Daily Telegraph. He first of all takes a swipe at those warmongers who take the line that the aggression was ruined by poor, post-attack planning:
It is now commonplace for people like me, who supported the war, to say that we "did the right thing" but that it had mysteriously "turned out wrong". This is intellectually vacuous. It is like saying British strategy for July 1, 1916 was perfect, but let down by faulty execution. The thing was a disaster from the moment we invaded, and it wasn't poor old Rumsfeld's fault for failing to send in enough troops, or failing to do more "planning" for the post-war. No quantity of troops could have prevented this catastrophe; and the dreadful thing is that I think Saddam knew it.He then goes on to write the key paragraph to his article, one that argues that the Iraqis were following a pre-war resistance plan:
A couple of years ago I had a chilling conversation with a very senior British general who was then intimately involved in our efforts in Iraq.
The trouble was, he said, that Saddam had thought it all through. He knew he hadn't a hope against the Pentagon, so he had a three-stage strategy. First he instructed his army not to put up much resistance to the Patton-like thrusts of the US army. Then, when Baghdad had fallen, he encouraged his soldiers to melt away to their homes and keep their weapons. The third stage, said this British general, was the one we had been embroiled in ever since: a guerrilla war, spiced with sectarian violence, to become gradually more intense until it became no longer possible for the allies to remain in Iraq.How accurate is Boris' source, the Exile wonders?
The problem is the first bit. Shortly after the fall of Baghdad, the British press was full of stories concerning how the Americans had managed to buy off some senior Iraqi generals. That was the reason why Baghdad fell with such alacrity. The Iraqi plan was to defend Baghdad to the hilt, to turn it into another Stalingrad, and then melt away to start the guerrilla war.
This version of events strikes me as being the more credible. The reason was outlined in length in this 2004 article of mine, which argued that had the Baathists remained in charge, then the Iraqi Resistance would have set up a front organisation to channel international support to the guerrilla movement. Secondly, the guerilla resistance began in cities such as Fallujah and Hit in the aftermath of American atrocities. Basically, the young men of those areas wanted revenge, and American over-reaction allowed the war to spread in a classical guerrilla pattern.
Time will tell which version is the correct one. What matters now is that the final sentences of my 2004 article are as pertinent today as when they were first written:
However, in the final analysis, it really does not matter how the Iraqis choose to wage their war of liberation. What matters is that they have joined a select and heroic pantheon of nations who have refused to go quietly into imperialism’s long night. If for no other reason than that we owe them our support. They already have our admiration.