Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden big winners in Iraq

I have been an opponent of the war in Iraq since before there was a war. I never thought it would happen. But it did. We invaded. Since I went to Baghdad a year ago as Baghdad Bureau Chief I have witnessed and predicted the deterioration in America’s position, both in Baghdad and through the Middle East. We invaded and occupied Iraq without a plan to leave, or to stay. But today’s developments in Falluja have me shaking my head. Unbelievable.

I guess they are starting to run for cover-in Washington

Saddam Hussein must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Now run this by me again: We suffered over 100 dead in April, as well as hundreds of seriously wounded. And at the end of the month, U.S. Marines are "repositioning" our forces to hand over control of Falluja to a nonexistent "army" led and staffed by Saddam Hussein’s officer corps. Is this April 30th or April 1st? Am I watching a delayed April Fool’s joke?

Published reports in the Washington Post claim that the "transition" to a nonexistent "army" is "working."

Well, in a long list of major mistakes, the latest gaffe by the Bush Administration-which claims not to have any prior knowledge of the "repositioning"–may be one of the biggest mistakes of all.

We fought a war to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Yes? Apparently no. We are putting Saddam’s army back in control of Falluja. American Marines died for nothing (a prediction I made last week, once again accurately).

Well, that’s bad enough.

But look beyond your nose and see the real disaster in the making: If you were a Shiite, and saw Sunnis regaining control of the military and police apparatus, that was used to terrorize and torture Shiites for decades, what would you be thinking? It is a safe prediction that (a) the Shiites are now going to oppose Americans with even greater force because they see Shiite gains as a result of the U.S. invasion evaporating, and (b) they are going to start preparing for a holy war, a confrontation where U.S. troops are caught in the middle of a civil war between Shia and Sunni–a civil war created by our incompetent military and civilian leadership in Baghdad.

Make no mistake. Surrendering to the Sunnis in Falluja will
bring a massive response from the Shiites. Not today maybe, not tomorrow, but soon enough. A disaster in the making.

In a word, "betrayal."

Having started a stupid military mission in Falluja, having embarrassed the U.S. Marine Corps, having abandoned what was called a crucial objective (getting rid of "outside" fighters) and now having withdrawn from Falluja in disgrace, leaving the city in control of a nonexistent unit described variously as the "Falluja Protection Force," or the "Falluja Brigade," what’s next? Is there anything more that Paul Bremer and General John Abizaid could do wrong? I doubt it.

Make no mistake about it: George Bush won the first (second) Iraq War in 2003. Saddam Hussein is winning the second (third) Iraq War in 2004.

Earlier this week, I wrote that President Bush faced a "pincer movement" from critics of his Iraq polices–unhappy "warriors" on the right joining opponents on the left. It can only get worse for Bush.

Once it dawns that we have shed American blood for nothing, that we have talked tough and then withered and withdrawn, the blowback will not be long in coming: for Bush and for our men and women who are being abandoned in Iraq.

At home, Republicans and Democrats will be an a cappella chorus in attacking the surrender/waste of life.

In Iraq and through the Middle East, our remaining troops will be even more exposed, even more wasted, by the capitulation in Falluja. Marine commanders, who only hours ago spoke of a "Guadalcanal" battle in Falluja, must now confront the horrible reality their men have been sacrificed for–Saddam Hussein’s resurgence. It is all very sad.

Can you image what Ralph Peters will be saying Saturday in the New York post and on Fox News? Can Bill O’Reilly continue to support a war when the Bush administration has pushed the "rewind" button and is putting Saddam back in control?

What’s next: Saddam restored to one of his palaces? Don’t be surprised if it happens. Things are getting curiouser and curiouser in Iraq.

Our men and women are becoming more and more endangered in Iraq as the politicians in Washington abandon them. It’s disgusting.

As for the "Iraqi insurgents?" They won a historic victory. They finally won honor for Arabs on the field of battle. As some of them predicted, it was their "Stalingrad." And they won the showdown. Falluja will be remembered as a great victory. By Arabs. Not Americans. Joining the NVA and Viet-Cong before them, poorly-armed insurgents have defeated, embarrassed and ultimately humiliated the United States armed forces.

Oh, yes, there is one more big winner today: Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden said the Americans would not stay the course. He said they were afraid to die. Well, give the devil his due: Bin Laden was right. He said we would not fight. This week, President Bush has surrendered to terrorism in Falluja.

Who’s next? How long before Bush betrays the Israelis?