August 21, 2003

U.N. Iraq HQ Bombing Update

U.N. Iraq HQ Bombing Update

Saddam loyalists are currently the leading suspects. For the record, and with all due respect to David Adesnik, I disagree that the attack will be viewed with such horror by myriad countries (or Iraqis themselves) that it will be detrimental to the Ba'athist forces in terms of severely worsening their reputation.

Nor do I think countries like India, Pakistan or Germany will suddenly be bursting with fellow-feeling because of an attack on a U.N. compound so that they rush troops to back up coalition forces currently in place. Despite efforts like these, which may help to some degree, I think it's still going to be pretty heavy slogging to get significant numbers of troops, from other countries, in theater.

Instead, the attack against the U.N. HQ will likely be viewed by many as an attack, not against the U.N, but against the U.S. In other words, the attack, along with pipeline sabotage, the attack on the Jordanian Embassy, daily attacks on coalition forces, and the like, will be seen by many as one in a series of operations that are meant to continue to keep Iraq in as chaotic a state as possible. In other words, vicious, reprehensible terrorist tactics to be sure--but ones meant to support a guerrilla campaign and aimed squarely against the U.S.

At this juncture, I think serious consideration needs to be given to increasing our troop deployment in theater. Regretable, but likely needed if we mean to get the job done. The key is to stabilize the country asap, get basic services on tap, and have the Iraqi interim government become more visible and proactive.

Later, of course, we can internationalize the effort as much as possible so that it looks less like an occupation force. But right now--security and restoration of services is paramount--and we can't seem to create a secure environment with the current amount of troops on the ground. Remember, during peacemaking efforts in Bosnia, for instance, if memory serves, we (ie, SFOR) had 30,000-40,000 odd troops deployed in a significantly smaller country that was more exhausted by 3 solid years of combat. And one where a formal end to hostilities had been consummated and we weren't facing somewhat of a guerrilla campaign.

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