Fog of peace

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(Host) Commentator Bill Seamans is concerned by the continued casualties in Iraq.

(Seamans) When President Bush made his top-gun speech aboard the carrier Abraham Lincoln you could not miss the big banner on the superstructure behind him that declared “Mission Accomplished!” Well, not quite. Journalists who are not swayed by Pentagon Correctness, the new “P.C.”, are reporting that Baghdad has degenerated into a city of lawlessness and violence that verges on anarchy.

One result is that our troops, who have emerged from the fog of war, now find themselves groping through the fog of a so-called peace. Instead of their hoped for trip home, they are being forced into a new aggressive and dangerous situation: a war against Iraqi guerillas. While they are arguing in Washington whether the reasons President Bush gave us for launching his pre-emptive strike against Saddam were credible, the New York Times on Monday published a page-full of pictures of our troops who have been killed in the past six weeks – some 40 of them.

Some were accident victims but others were killed in ambushes by diehards of Saddam’s Baathist Party, by the gunmen of warlords, and by Islamic extremists who don’t want to give up their traditional powers to an American-imposed government. Where our troops were welcomed as liberators they are now being called oppressors.

Battle-tested 3rd Division troops have been ordered to Falluja, some 40 miles from Baghdad, where the deadliest anti-American clashes have occurred. The 1st Armored Division has moved into Baghdad and has had to add so many more patrols that they have a continuous presence in large neighborhoods. Also, the 1st Armored is sending foot patrols into some of the toughest neighborhoods that have not yet even seen any Americans because the streets are too narrow for army vehicles. It’s the kind of guerilla environment the infantryman does not like.

Hit-and-run guerilla and/or terrorist bombings, ambushes, and snipings by indigenous clandestine forces have historically proved to be lethal, demoralizing and usually effective against an occupying army. Armed resistance highly motivated by fervent Islamic fundamentalism and centuries of vested tribal power could become a major obstacle for President Bush’s plans for Iraq.

Again, historically, the only way a determined guerilla uprising has been subdued has been by brutal, overwhelming force. In American terms, this would mean the need to maintain many troops in Iraq – many boots on the ground, as they say – we don’t know for how long. Our troops have, indeed, rolled out of the fog of war into the fog of an insecure peace.

This is Bill Seamans

Award-winning journalist Bill Seamans is a former correspondent and bureau chief for ABC News in the Middle East.

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