Tuesday, January 04, 2005

American Chechnya -- the Economist's perspective

Economist.com | Iraq

The Economist this week features a grim summary from one or more embedded journalists (the Economist does not provide bylines). It reminds me a bit of the letter home from the WSJ's Iraq journalist, only this one was printed.

It has been well cited in the blogs I read. The news is relentlessly grim throughout Sunni Iraq. Fallujah is described as "demolished", which reminds me a bit of Grozny.

The US is hanging on until the Shias take over and the Kurds split away. After that, presumably, the true civil war begins.

One paragraph stood out for me:
Barely six months ago, Mosul was one of the most tranquil spots in Iraq. Now it is one of the most violent, and least policed. It may be no coincidence that, until last January, around 20,000 American troops were billeted in and around the city and led by a most dynamic commander. With troops urgently required elsewhere, they were replaced by 8,500 soldiers, around 700 of whom were diverted to Fallujah and Bagh.
So with sufficient forces, and extraordinary leadership, it might have been possible to occupy Iraq and hold real elections. Of course the US doesn't have a large enough army to do that, it would take years for us to build an army of occupation, rather than one of invasion, and it would probably require something like a draft.

I've always supposed the real issue with Shinseki's @2001 300,000+ prediction was that it meant, effectively, that we couldn't invade Iraq in the first place. If that's true, it's rather interesting that the print media didn't point this out a few years ago.

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