More American Soldiers have been killed in the month of April, fighting the uprising in Faluja, than during the Iraq War a year ago, when Bush the Top Gun, declared "the mission accomplished", the major combat over. To make the situation worse the uprising is not confined to the much-touted "Sunni Triangle". Shias have also joined hands. The fractious Senior Clerics are cornered into supporting the young firebrand Al-Sadar in Najaf. Other Shia cities are in turmoil as well.
The difference is, during the war, Iraqi soldiers were fighting, or pretending to fight fearing Saddam Hussain much more than the invading Americans. Once convinced that America would win, they melted away. They were not willing to fight for a selfish megalomaniac and a cause that was not theirs.
Now the occupation has provided a rallying cause. They are fighting for themselves, their people and their land, notwithstanding the Administrations propaganda. A worst outcome is in the offing when one starts believing one’s own propaganda that the majority of the population is not against Americans and the insurgents are Saddam supporters, Al-Qaida or foreigners.
One needs to remember that all revolutions, including the American Revolution, was fought by a very small minority. The key was the sympathy of the majority, even if reluctantly given. There are no Saddam supporters worth counting. Al-Qaida and foreigners have infiltrated to join the resistance because Bush has unwittingly created conditions for the Iraqis to welcome all comers who are against Americans.
Because of the history of discrimination of Kurds by Arabs and Shia’s by Saddam Hussain and many Sunni Arab regimes, Americans have the support from Kurds and had a jaundiced goodwill from Shias. Kurds can not forget the support America gives to Turks and gave to Saddam in eighties against Kurds. Shias can not trust Americans because of the American policy in the region. Unfortunately Bush has surrounded himself with those who have myopic ideology but no understanding of history.
A year ago, Bush could not contain himself to one war at a time. He considered Afghanistan a sideshow. Iraq was the goal, and the Axis of NaivetÃ© had to declare Shia Iran as a part of contrived "Axis of evil". Rumsfeld fooled himself and the Americans into believing that he was capable of fighting two wars at the same time. After easy victory in Iraq, the Neo-Cons were seriously floating the idea of attacking Iran and or Syria. Generals who objected to this madness were chastised.
People like compressions. Those supporting the war, buy into W.W.II analogies. Those, opposing see it as Vietnam revisited. No two wars are alike. But there are some glaring similarities between the Vietnam and the Iraq Wars. Both were started by what we euphemistically call intentional misrepresentation. Later, the declared aims of both the wars were not the destruction of the country and its people but the winning of hearts and minds.
It is impossible to win the hearts and minds, when the premise was wrong and a young soldier brave and idealistic at the start, fearing for his and his comrade’s life, of necessity develops a hair-trigger attitude. The paradox is that the harder the soldier tries the more damage he does to either himself by getting in the harms way or the Iraqis by not being able to distinguish between the combatants and those who only emotionally support the insurgents. Air power is very effective tool to kill and destroy, but ubiquitous collateral damage only further alienates the population.
The first phase of the war, lasting about a month was successful beyond expectations. The second phase has gone way beyond bad. It is terrible and effectively lost.
What is the third phase? The "real" transfer of power to the Iraqis on the 30th of June could be the start of the 3rd phase. But there is no possibility at this juncture. The date is only two months away. Any possible authority acceptable to Americans is not acceptable to the Iraqis.
As if the situation was not bad enough, Bush has reversed even the pretense of an unbiased mediation in the Palestinian-Israeli dispute and has completely acquiesced to Sharon’s murderous policies. This plays very loudly in the Arab world and now even in Europe. The American use of helicopter gun-ships on densely populated cities and occupation of Iraq is getting closer and closer identification with Israeli methods in Gaza Strip.