Monday, March 24, 2003

The War, So Far

If you want to know what's going on as it happens, The Agonist is the place to be. The error rate is higher than you get from the more mainline sources, but that's the price you pay for being up-to-the-minute. For as long as Sean-Paul holds out. How does he do it?. For more in-depth analysis, Kos is hard to beat. Try Venik's Aviation for a different point of view, including purported translations of GRU briefings..

TV coverage is absolutely godawful. Reminds me of nothing so much as a bunch of college wargamers discussing what Eisenhower did wrong at Normandy. Loud, arrogant, ignorant bluster and pictures with no context. Fox, as expected, is especially bad. They've completely dropped any pretense of doing "journalism" as opposed to "propaganda".

Al Jazeera finally has an English-language site. Too bad it's marked "Temporary". The site design is horrible (Microsoft only), but it's still interesting. Hopefully, they'll make it permanent and fix the design. I've also heard that they've been the victim of a denial-of-service attack; it'd be interesting to see just who's doing it. The talking heads are appalled that we didn't make Iraqi IV a priority.

Our military is following the obvious plan -- capture the oilfields, airlift troops to the north to start a front there, capture airbases in Iraq's western desert, and move the main attack force as quickly as possible to the outskirts of Baghdad. We're doing a lot of bombing, but nowhere near as much as the original (leaked?) "Shock and Awe" plan called for.

Unfortunately, a couple of things have gone very badly wrong:

  • Against all expectations, the Iraqis are fighting. This is seriously Not Good; longer this war goes on, the worse trouble we'll be in.
  • We're not being welcomed as liberators. Perhaps the Iraqis remember what happened when they answered our call to revolt in 1991?
  • When this is over, I expect the Second Amendment types to have a field day. The Iraqi populous seems to be rather heavily armed. Not encouraging for the occupation.
Some things we expected:
  • A few oil wells have been set on fire. Messy, but not disastrous.
  • Hit and run attacks on the supply lines. I'm surprised there haven't been more.
  • Some Islamist types have poked their heads up, including at least one suicide bombing.

Rumsfeld & company soiled their trousers on the POW issue. It's OK for US TV news to show Iraqi POWs, but not for Iraqi TV news to show American POWs. Everybody outside the US and UK has called them on this.

No "Weapons of Mass Destruction", despite what Fox says. Their talking heads can't distinguish between a factory for making poison gas and poison gas. LATER --Turns out it was an ordinary chemical factory.

Lessons we've hopefully learned:

  • Helicopters are vulnerable to heavy machine gun fire. (The Soviets learned that one in Afghanistan)
  • Our transport and logistics requirements are, in a word, unacceptable. Our military was designed to sit in fixed positions in West Germany and get overrun by the Soviets. It takes us six months to get into position to do anythng; against real opposition, we'd get wiped out.
  • Blowing up empty government buildings impresses nobody.
  • Outclassed military units tend to fight dirty. Rumsfeld & company may expect Iraqi military units to line up to be slaughtered like good little movie extras; most people don't.
  • House-to-house mopup operations are nasty and dangerous. Duh!
  • We're already getting blamed for everything that has gone wrong in Iraq since Gulf War I. We're finding out why the sanctions were a really bad idea. Supposedly, we'd make the Iraqi people miserable enough to revolt against Saddam. "That trick never works, Bullwinkle!" "This time for sure!"

Well, we'll see. It's continuing.

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