Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi, Kbatarfi@al-madina.com
I told some friends a few weeks before the war on Iraq started that I was optimistic things would end well. They asked: How could that be, when the invaders are banging on Hell’s gate threatening to smash it open at any moment? I said: Because those who open the gates of Hell will be the first to be burned there.
Two weeks into the war, I reiterate again that the US and allies will only leave the swamp of Iraq after being taught a lesson like that of Vietnam — a lesson they forgot after their victory in the Second Gulf War and the Balkans wars (just) and the unjust Afghanistan invasion.
My reasons for this optimism are:
First: America has forgotten that great wars are not waged unilaterally. In each major war fought and won, America led a large international coalition, giving it legal and political cover and distributing the cost among participants.
Second: America has military superiority in conventional warfare. However, this is only useful when the goal is to kill and destroy, then leave. But in a war for occupation, you might need to fight your way into cities.
When armies meet and troops engage in street fight, mortar fire and missiles are neutralized. Defensive positioning, personal motivation, and precise knowledge of the battlefield become more important than bomb specs and missiles ranges. In this measure, the native worriers have the upper hand.
Third: America should know by now that military and economic superiority aren’t an alternative to political superiority. The latter is measured by the strength of one’s allies and the weakness of the enemy.
It is also judged by the extent of your success in convincing the concerned parities in the country and in the neighborhood that their interests agree with yours. Credibility is crucial here.
After inciting Iraqis to revolt in 1991 and then abandoning them, promising Turkey financial aid then forgetting about it, America no longer has enough credibility left to win hearts and minds.
Fourth: America hastened into this invasion without proper preparation. Its arrogance and haste did not allow for consulting with and listening to friends and allies in the region, opting instead to rely on Israel, Israel’s friends in the US, and mostly West-based opposition groups. All of whom have an interest in misleading the US into this historical trap.
In its haste and on misleading analysis and information, the US cut short many important steps, disregarded some valid scenarios, and underestimated many risks. This resulted in the American troops falling into an open swamp where they can be easily hunted and their supply lines easily disrupted.
Fifth: More military mistakes and angry reactions to failures mean higher causality figures. As a result, enmity increases in the country and the region, making the whole place unsafe for American occupiers. And with more angry Muslims, the whole world may become so.
Six: America thought that with its military superiority alone it could control two thirds of world oil reserves. It has thus united major powers such as Europe, Russia and China against such hegemony schemes. It has also worried a world that sees its international organizations unable to play its role in keeping the peace and providing the forums for solving international disagreements so long as America insists on playing the role of judge and executioner.
This way the US has guaranteed its political defeat even when the Iraqi regime crumbles. Its military failure will be confirmed by the death of hundreds of American soldiers, and its inability to provide long-term peace and stability in Iraq.
Therefore, I believe that America’s loss will be our gain as the international community look for a new power balance, more effective international organizations and just world order, and as America’s imperial aspirations are realized and scrutinized.
The Muslim nation (Ummah) will gain much more if it could realizes that the only way to prevent another invasion and humiliation is to concentrate on internal reform, regional co-operation and Islamic unity.
Arab News Features 6 April 2003