Road to Disaster
has no certainty except the certainty of sacrifice."
- President George W. Bush March 17, 2003
in the history of the world has so much power
been exercised in the prosecution of war as
is proposed in this war on Iraq. Members of
the Bush administration and pundits continue
to state with confidence that war will be a
matter of "only a few days" or perhaps
weeks and that victory is assured even before
hostilities commence. There is little public
discussion of the things that could go wrong.
Department officials, on a more somber note,
have tried to prepare Americans for the possibilities
of casualties while at the same time mirroring
the optimistic tone of the administration. Defense
Department plans call for an initial "shock
and awe" strategy in which forces will
drop 10 times the bombs in the opening days
of an air campaign than they did in the Kuwait
Gulf War. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
General Richard Meyers, expresses confidence
that this will create "such a shock on
the system that the Iraqi regime would have
to assume early on that the end is inevitable."
air campaign would be followed by the rapid
advance of ground forces in a drive to capture
key strategic assets and with the goal of reaching
Baghdad in a matter of days. The entire premise
is based on an assumption that Iraqis will not
offer much real resistance and may even "welcome"
the American liberators.
circumstance, however, may make this optimism
seem misplaced once U.S. troops enter the country.
What if these assumptions turn out to be false
due to lack of understanding of the Iraqi people
and overconfidence (dare I even say hubris)
on the part of the U.S.? The history of human
wars is filled with stories of unexpected catastrophes.
returned from Iraq in late January after being
involve in a severe calamity of my own. I was
traveling throughout the country with members
of the Christian Peacemaker Teams to learn about
Iraq and better understand that country. As
we returned along the main highway from Basrah
to Baghdad the tire of our SUV blew out causing
a rollover accident. One member of our team,
George Weber, was killed outright when he was
thrown from the car. I suffered three compression
fractures of the spine and spent the next three
weeks in Iraq in recovery.
what does this have to do with plans for war
I experienced during my trip is that Iraq is
quite different from how it has been portrayed
by the Bush administration. This leads me to
consider that there is a clear lack of information
in Washington about that country and how they
will react if war comes. At the same time I
have learned that things don't always go as
planned and disaster can strike from unexpected
quarters. Experienced military strategists know
these things as well and understand that once
war begins all bets are off.
(we say "if" because we hold out hope
for a peaceful resolution to the end) the U.S.
launches a war it can be expected that things
may not go according to plans drawn up thousands
of miles away from the sands of Iraq. While
the best and brightest of the Defense Policy
Advisory Board scheme they should remember that
Iraqi military leaders plot likewise. They may
have also read Sun Tzu words, "Thus it
is that in war the victorious strategist only
seeks battle after the victory has been won,
whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights
and afterwards looks for victory."
us hope and pray that the highway to Baghdad
does not instead become a road to disaster.
Peace - Charlie
founder of Texans for Peace, recently returned
from his second trip to Iraq, undertaken through
the Christian Peacemaker Teams organization
of Chicago. He is a high-tech CEO and lives
with his two sons in San Antonio.