Guerilla warfare

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(Host) As the conflict escalates in Iraq, commentator Bill Seamans reflects on how it may reflect the tactics of classic guerrilla warfare.

(Seamans) Government officials have described the insurgents in Iraq as nothing more than some 3,000 bitter remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Party, Islamic extremists, religious leaders fighting for political power, and those whose hatred was nourished in the miserable refugee camps.

While it has been suggested that this force is a motley crew – the emerging FACTS show that they are fighting a classic guerrilla war against our all-powerful army. An anonymous top military officer told the Associated Press that the insurgents were waging a brilliant campaign of fear and intimidation. The FACTS show that they are well-coordinated and their attacks for the most part are well-timed to have a political impact.

It’s as if their leaders have read the lessons written by the Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Tse-Tung, regarded as one of the fathers of guerrilla warfare. It was he who said that “political power comes out of the barrel of a gun.” Mao wrote that in guerrilla strategy, “The enemy’s rear, flanks and other vulnerable spots are his vital points, and there he must be harassed, attacked, dispersed, exhausted and annihilated…” It appears that the guerrillas in Iraq are following Mao’s lessons.

The FACTS show that the deadly ambushes of our convoys have forced the army to close two major supply highways to Iraqi civilians so they cannot shield attackers. Our casualties for just this month of April are approaching the total for the whole war so far. The return home of troops has been postponed. Thousands more boots on the ground have been requested by our generals. The guerrilla war has spread all over the country.

Despite the positive spin from the White House, correspondents report it is unsafe for Americans to travel out of fortified urban enclaves without hired bodyguards. Kidnappings and killings have intimidated contract American civilians who refuse to venture out to work. President Bush said he still doesn’t know yet who he’ll pass the keys to on June 30th when Iraq assumes sovereignty. No matter how the White House spins this sad story – the FACTS shout that we have lost control in Iraq.

And now Condi Rice warns us that with the presidential election approaching an attack here at home to disrupt the campaign would – for terrorists – Condi said – “seem too good a chance to pass up.”

As I wrote these words I could heard the hectoring voice of my inner Ashcroft accusing me of being unpatriotic – No, Mr. Ashcroft – I think I would be unpatriotic if I didn’t write them.

This is Bill Seamans.

Award-winning journalist Bill Seamans is a former corrspondent and bureau chief for ABC News in the Middle East. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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