Iraq, no walkover, will be tough

March 24, 2003


I am trying to understand why people think that the war is going “slower than expected”. Casualties yesterday were less than the number of people killed in Caracas on any given weekend. (Note: Roughly 75-80 people are killed every weekend in Caracas alone in the poor neighborhoods). In fact the estimates for civilian casualties range from 135 to 203 at this time and military ones are 19 casualties and 12 captured or missing in action.  And somehow I have troubles understanding why Reuters reports that this time the war might be different than the ’91 one. Well, in 1991, the Desert Storm began on January 16th. And it took exactly 43 days for a ceasefire to be declared, so I am not sure what it is they are talking about. Moreover, it was not until Feb. 15th. that Iraq actually offered to even leave Kuwait!!. The ground offensive began after over a month of bombing on Feb. 23d. and two days later Hussein ordered his troops to retreat from Kuwait. As usual, people rely simply on qualitative arguments that are simply false. As I write this ABC News (TV, not website) and the New York Times are reporting that troops are gathering 50 miles from Baghdad. 50 miles!!. They have gone 300 miles in the desert trying not to get killed and in less than three days they are 50 miles away and people think is going badly? There seems to be something wrong with this picture. Are Americans so cocky that they thought they would get to Baghdad without resistance? How does this jive with the human shields that are surprised that some Iraqis dislike Saddam?


But no matter, the Dow drops a zillion points because this is taking too long, making the stock market as much of a crap shoot as my brother thinks Formula 1 races have become under the new rules. And I do enjoy it when our illustrious and cynical Vice-president says “what is being done to Iraq today may be done to anyone”. Is that his only concern? Where was he when Noriega was ousted? Or when Grenada was invaded? Does he remember the Falklands? He says he is worried about the UN, but nowhere in his statements do I see concern for people from either side. How about the Iraqis that have suffered the whims of their leader for almost two decades? I imagine in his mind they don’t count, after all, Saddam was elected unanimously by the Iraqis last fall. Yes, it would have been wonderful if Saddam had been killed the first day and the whole thing had ended that day, but it did not happen and I expect that Baghdad will not be easy to take, but it will happen sooner rather than later. In fact, the Boston Globe reports that things appear to be getting ready for something to happen in Baghdad.

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