By ALAN COWELL
It is precisely that messy, manipulative and murderous kind of fighting between conventional forces and elusive defenders that could confront the Americans and British as they try to enter Baghdad, despite their much-publicized reluctance to engage in a close urban brawl.
”The Iraqis will want to fight close and dirty, with Iraqi tanks darting in an out of garages and buildings; they will conduct small-scale offensive actions with dismounted soldiers supported by mortars,” wrote Gen. Wesley Clark, the American former commander who led NATO forces during the Kosovo campaign in 1999.
”The fighting will be full of the tricks we have already seen and more: ambushes, fake surrenders, soldiers dressed as women, attacks on rear areas and command posts. The Iraqis will be prepared to conduct high-risk missions of a kind we would not consider,” he said in an article for the Times of London.
New York Times, March 27, 2003
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He had been a hero in World War I, and a very young Army chief of staff. As a retired general, he accepted an appointment to the Philippines and was later recalled to active duty. As the commander there, he suffered the humiliation of early defeat and the loss of his force. He fought back, later accepted Japan’s surrender, and, as the supreme commander of the occupation forces, set out to remake a nation. And he largely succeeded.
Under Douglas MacArthur’s tutelage, Japan emerged from the grip of a belligerent military-industrial complex and became a democracy. From an aggressive imperialist power, it was transformed into a peaceful state, using its vast resources to support international institutions and diplomacy around the world.
No wonder many are searching for the next MacArthur, someone to deal with the problems of postwar Iraq. As a model for regime change, it is neater and nobler than the untidy task of sorting out bickering Iraqi factions or relying on Iraqis with obscure or dubious intentions for themselves and their country. And for an administration run by corporate executives, there must be appeal in seeking a latter-day MacArthur to act as Iraq’s chief operating officer. Already last week retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the military’s director of postwar planning, arrived at a Kuwaiti beachside resort with a large team from the Pentagon’s newly created Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.
But the circumstances of Japan and its transformation bear so little resemblance to those of present-day Iraq that both the analogy and the pursuit of a new MacArthur are off the mark. Almost nothing from the lessons of postwar Japan can be applied directly to Iraq, and consequently, neither the approach nor the character of a MacArthur are appropriate for the mission in Iraq. Just consider the facts. (more…)
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