Napoleon, after quick victories throughout Europe, decided to take on his former ally, Russia. Napoleon had the most powerful army in Europe. He liked to use small, fast units for surprise and speed. When he entered the borders of Russia, he expected a ferocious the battle for Moscow in which he would destroy, once and for all, the Russian military machine. But to his surprise, his invasion of Moscow was a cakewalk. There was no big battle with the Russian military machine. Napoleon’s troops quickly entered Moscow and dug in.
The troops of Bush the Younger, like Napoleon entering Moscow, had a cakewalk into Iraq. There were token shots here and there, but no big earth works to slow vehicles in ambushes. No tank traps to paralyze the fearsome Abrams tanks. No massive mine fields to make every American move a dance of death that would delay the advancing troops. Most surprising was no Republican Guard, Hussein’s most effective army. The quick-moving U.S. special forces quickly enveloped Baghdad where they waited for the big battle. But there was no huge battle. There was no visible Republican Guard. And there was no Saddam Hussein. . Like Napoleon waiting to polish off the Czarist army, Bush also waited to finish off the Republican Guard. But no Republican Guard was in sight. Saddam Hussein was nowhere to be found.
As millions of American watched on television, President Bush, now re-uniformed in a Presidential black suit and, by precise pre-arrangement, made his famous victory swagger across the open deck toward the carefully focussed TV cameras. Pre-arranged was a huge sign on the carrier’s superstructure: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. At a microphone, Bush told the American people the invasion was complete and combat ended.
In the War of 1812, Kutuzov’s army had not, of course, evaporated. They had simply moved beyond Moscow, out of sight, and waited for the penalty of time and a vicious winter to decimate Napoleon’s Grand Army.
It is possible that Hussein’s elite Republican Guard had shed their uniforms and were behind the mounting American casualties. Once the small, beleaguered U.S. troops were shown to be vulnerable, it loosed the anger of Iraqi civilians who, without water, electricity, or food, demanded that the American occupiers who ruined the country by precision bombing do something about it.
It seems inexplicable. But perhaps it is explainable.
But this is not limited to the United States. It is a plan that the neo-con group foresees implanting in all the newly developing countries and in as much of the rest of the world as possible. This includes Iraq.
After the Taliban had been bombed in Afghanistan, Iraq seemed a convenient country with which to extend the neo-con program. The word “convenient” is not mine. It was used by one of the inner group who planned the whole thing, Paul Wolfowitz, in an article in Vanity. In that article, Wolfowitz said a number of countries were considered as targets but Iraq was decided as the most “convenient.” One assumes that it was “convenient” because politically Hussein is properly despised as a monster who does monstrous things to his own dissenters (though he was our monster in 1980).
Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, had been Dean and Professor of the Nitze School of Advanced International Relations at Johns Hopkins University. Condoleeza Rice, President Bush’s National Security Advisor, had been Provost and a Dean at Stanford University, professor of political science, and author of three books on European and Soviet History. Richard Perle (known by his opponents as the Prince of Darkness), was chair of the Defense Policy Board, has a BA and Masters from Princeton. Rumsfeld is a Princeton man.
It is a huge tome with more than 3 million-plus words, but it is also on any list of the world’s great literature. And any course in European history will have dealt with Napoleon and the War of 1812. More important, it provides a striking warning of precisely what seems to have happened in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq.
Bush accepted the Iraq war plan and quickly savored the glory of a quick and successful invasion. It is possible that Bush, not known as an insatiable reader of books, might not remember much about Napoleon, Moscow and Kutuzov. But Bush’s generals did because one thing the Pentagon does well is to make sure every person who reaches the rank of a senior General has been to graduate school and studied in detail every important war from classical times to the present.
The problem, of course, is that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Perle, were known to feel they understood military matters better than his generals and the intelligence they collected was distinct from the CIA They selected whatever information they could that supported their plans and dismissed the rest as bureaucratic incompetence. The Iraqi mess that followed the invasion has become a monument of those who have impenetrable self-confidence in their own superiority.
Rumsfeld and company must have felt that they could simply order the Air Force to reduce Iraq to rubble, move in the small American special forces and then let lesser people worry about petty details — details like what happens after the troops are in and there is no water, electricity, or food, and a population hat will become desperate and hostile. There were far more casualties after “Mission Accomplished” than occurred during the invasion itself.
Ben H. Bagdikian is the author of the forthcoming book, The New Media Monopoly.