has been saying it for over a year. I have been saying it for as long. What's happening is not a surprise -- it was to be expected.
It took Saddam nearly a million men under arms and brutal repressive tactics to keep the country under control. And even then, there was near perpetual insurgency against his rule.
For the US to think they could control the country, as outside occupiers, with a shade over 100,000 troops (and, according to Rumsfeld, about a third of that at this point in the calendar) bordered on insanity. But as we have seen again and again in this administration, ideology trumps reality.
And the reality on the ground is sickening. We are facing a well-armed, well-trained, and coordinated enemy. Remember -- we never defeated these guys in combat. The US bought off Republican Guard commanders sparing our troops heavy combat on the streets of Baghdad and elsewhere across the country.
General Tommy Franks, the US army commander for the war, said these Iraqi officers had acknowledged their loyalties were no longer with the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, but with their American paymasters. As a result, many officers chose not to defend their positions as American and British forces pushed north from Kuwait.
"I had letters from Iraqi generals saying: 'I now work for you'," General Franks said.
It is not clear which Iraqi officers were bribed, how many were bought off or at what cost. It is likely, however, that the US focused on officers in control of Saddam's elite forces, which were expected to defend the capital. The Pentagon said that bribing the senior officers was a cost-effective method of fighting and one that led to fewer casualties.
"What is the effect you want?" a senior Pentagon official said. "How much does a cruise missile cost? Between $1m and $2.5m. Well, a bribe is a PGM [precision guided missile) it achieves the aim but it's bloodless and there's zero collateral damage.
"This part of the operation was as important as the shooting part; maybe more important. We knew that some units would fight out of a sense of duty and patriotism, and they did. But it didn't change the outcome because we knew how many of these [Iraqi generals] were going to call in sick," he added.
A competent post-war administration may have taken advantage of the opportunities created by good ol' American cash. But as we now know (and have known all along), there was nothing approaching "competence" in the CPA. It was packed with Bush political appointees
, so nothing better could be expected.
And the problem with buying people off is that they don't always stay bought. And as opposition melted away in the face of the advancing Americans and Brits (other than the hapless Fedayin), Iraqis were able to store away their weapons and ammunition, ready if needed to fight another day.
That day has come, and as the rebellion spreads from north to south, our forces are placed in increasingly untenous positions. Guerillas can hole up in mosques, knowing they win if the US holds fire, and they win if the US opens fire (even if they are martyred in the process).
The cliche is that guerilla wars cannot be won on the battlefield, but on the negotiating table. Perhaps. But guerilla movements can be suppressed if we employ the tactics that made Saddam a monster. But we won't. Our national values preclude it.
So where does that leave us?
Update: Kerry weighed in:
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Wednesday called the situation in Iraq "one of the greatest failures of diplomacy and failures of judgment that I have seen in all the time that I've been in public life."
"Where are the people with the flowers, throwing them in the streets, welcoming the American liberators the way Dick Cheney said they would be?" Kerry said in an interview with American Urban Radio Networks.
"Since I fought in Vietnam, I have not seen an arrogance in our foreign policy like this."
Heck, arrogance of this level probably predates