June 19, 2003

The Guardian's Baghdad Is this

The Guardian's Baghdad

Is this a news article or opinion piece? It's the former, but sure sounds like the latter. Even Howell chum Pat Tyler provides a bit more nuance in his NYT piece that covers the same demonstration. Make no mistake--the situation in post-war Iraq is immensely complex and difficult. But the Guardian needs to attempt to be more judicious in its handling of such stories.

Note this passage, for instance:

"Just a few miles away in the centre of the city, gunmen in a passing car shot dead one American soldier and wounded another as they guarded a propane gas station. It was another strike against the US military by an increasingly bold guerrilla resistance force intent on destabilising the reconstruction." [my emphasis]

Note the NYT's version of the story provides this quote from a U.S. military source:

"We're dealing with people who have everything to lose and nothing to gain," he said. He also said it was an overstatement to call the resistance guerrilla attacks. "It is not close to guerrilla warfare because it's not coordinated," he said. "It's not organized, and it's not led."

So is it "bold guerrilla resistance" or sporadic attacks by disgruntled remnants of the regime operating without senior direction? So far, indications appear that the persistent attacks are somewhere in between:

Q: Are you seeing in Iraq organized guerilla resistance that might be directed by Saddam Hussein or even inspired by (Inaudible.).

Rumsfeld: ItŐs hard to tell. You see, different people in the U.S. community have different views on that, and thereŐs no one who thinks that itŐs a well organized, nationally-directed campaign. There are some who would say that in certain parts of the country it looks as though it has an element of organization to it as opposed to being random. My impression is that generally the looting and the criminal element is generally at a very low level -- it exists just like it does in cities all across Europe or the United States. There is some level of crime and misconduct.

The attacks on our forces, on coalition forces, are something other than that, and my impression is that what happened basically is, that there was a series of battles, from the south up to the Baghdad area, there were some battles in Baghdad, there were relatively few battles up north. And as a result a number of the BaŐath Party people, and the Fedayeen Saddam and the Republican Guard types, and the people close in to the Saddam Hussein regime did not get into a battle and therefore a lot of them did not get killed as they did down south and so there are probably more of them per square mile in the northern portion of the country between Baghdad and Tikrit than there are in other portions of the country. What does that mean? Well that means our forces are going to have to take an assessment of how we are arranged, what kind of forces we need, see that we have all the forces we need and go about finding those folks and putting them out of business."

So, perhaps in the environs of, say, Tikrit--there is some organized resistance per the analysis of some U.S. policymakers. But does this a "bold guerrilla resistance" make?

UPDATE: Some GIs on the ground, however, believe the resistance may be more organized than Rummy portrays.

Posted by Gregory at June 19, 2003 09:48 AM
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