Today brings reports that American troops are now engaged in door-to-door fighting in Baghdad's city center with more of this fighting to come following Bush's expected escalation announcement this evening.
While this administration has not gotten much right on Iraq, Dick Cheney's Nostradamus-like prediction of what would happen, post-invasion, has come eerily true.
From today's New York Times:
BAGHDAD, Jan. 9 — More than 1,000 American and Iraqi troops, backed by Apache attack helicopters and fighter jets, battled insurgents all day Tuesday and late into the night in downtown Baghdad, in one of the most dramatic operations in the capital since the invasion nearly four years ago.
The fighting raged less than 1,000 yards from the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses both the American command and the Iraqi government. It was the latest episode for the troubled neighborhood around Haifa Street, where major campaigns have repeatedly been initiated to rid the area of insurgents, only to have them re-infiltrate.
The fighting on Haifa Street, a broad two-mile boulevard that cuts through the heart of the capital, began nearly a week ago as an attempt to secure the safety of citizens caught in the middle of the fighting and ended with pitched battles in the street. It is a reminder of how difficult the Baghdad mission will be.
The American crackdown on Tuesday came on the fourth day of intense fighting in the neighborhood of tightly packed, high-rise apartment buildings that was the home of many top-ranking government officials and Baath Party loyalists while Saddam Hussein was in power. American soldiers continued to patrol the area through the night, and an American military spokesman said they would stay there until the situation was firmly under control. Gunfire and explosions could be heard in the neighborhood well after sunset.
Many may recall that back in August 1992, NostraCheney made the following prediction about what would happen in Baghdad if we invaded Iraq:
"All of a sudden you've got a battle you're fighting in a major built-up city, a lot of civilians are around, significant limitations on our ability to use our most effective technologies and techniques," Cheney said.
Cheney's now 15-year-old assessment was eerily, uncannily accurate:
"And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth?" Cheney said then in response to a question.
"And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."
"Once we had rounded him up and gotten rid of his government, then the question is what do you put in its place? You know, you then have accepted the responsibility for governing Iraq."
It's like he had a crystal ball...
"Now what kind of government are you going to establish? Is it going to be a Kurdish government, or a Shi'ia government, or a Sunni government, or maybe a government based on the old Baathist Party, or some mixture thereof? You will have, I think by that time, lost the support of the Arab coalition that was so crucial to our operations over there," he said.
The end result, Cheney said in 1992, would be a messy, dangerous situation requiring a long-term presence by U.S. forces.
"I would guess if we had gone in there, I would still have forces in Baghdad today, we'd be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home," Cheney said, 18 months after the war ended.
And tonight, Bush announces "his new way forward" which involves sending even more Americans into this thankless, no-win situation.
To exercise a cliché, it's "Back to the Future," neocon-style.
NostraCheney was right all along.