Alexander's Column

The Frog That Roared

Mark Alexander · Apr. 18, 2003

Last Wednesday, Baghdad fell – along with bronze icons of Saddam Hussein all over the country. And toppling in quick succession thereafter were the cities of Kirkuk and Mosul in the north, and finally this week Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit. By Monday of this week, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal had declared, “The major combat operations are over.” The circumstances remain dangerous, though, with pockets of regime loyalists and Jihadi terrorist and death-squad fighters still to be cleaned out, but a major front in our war with Jihadistan has been rendered safe.

And how about that war plan, described by every Leftmedia pundit three short weeks ago as “failed” and inevitably leading to a “quagmire”? The audacious war plan followed the maxim that “speed kills,” against odds achieving tactical surprise by launching the ground offensives before the airstrikes, and driving straight for the heart of Baghdad. Saddam and his generals seem to have been following another warrior maxim – that “generals always fight the last war.” And they seemed shocked into inaction by the coalition fighters’ boldness, as three weeks into the conflict, from their forward objective at Saddam International – no, make that Baghdad International Airport – the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division took “thunder runs” through the capital city, killing an estimated 1,000 Iraqi soldiers on one night last weekend.

Gen. Tommy Franks needed a break from successful war planning, so on Wednesday he took a tour – around Baghdad. He stopped for a cigar smoke and look-see around one of Saddam’s palatial estates then met with his component commanders. They briefed Commander-in-Chief Bush from the palace. Nice victory lap for Gen. Franks and his “band of brothers”!

To the dismay of anti-American pundits at home and abroad, free Iraqi citizen-leaders representing Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds convened this week outside the city of Ur (the birthplace of Abraham) to discuss the formation of a new constitutional republic. This first meeting produced a broad 13-point plan for self-governance and an end to the Ba'ath Party’s reign of terror. Lt. Gen. Jay G. Garner will head the postwar administration for reconstruction until a permanent government can be established by the Iraqi people. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer noted this meeting “…should be always remembered as a day when Iraqis expressed different opinions and weren’t shot for it.”

When President George Bush’s preemptive policy of “regime change” in Iraq was first announced 14 months ago, his administration made clear its post-military commitment to that historic cradle of civilization – provide humanitarian assistance to civilians; advocate a unified, multi-ethnic democracy which is at peace with its neighbors; assist with economic aid to put Iraq on the path to prosperity; and ensure the territorial unity of Iraq until a new government can be established. Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld reiterated these points the day we crossed Iraq’s border: “Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people, and once Saddam Hussein’s regime is removed, we intend to see that functional and political authority is placed in the hands of Iraqis as quickly as possible. Coalition forces will stay only as long as necessary to finish the job, and not a day longer.”

A significant question now is that of what role the UN will play in the reformation of Iraq. Clearly, as we have argued for years, the UN is totally ineffective. Its sanctions in Iraq have been adhered to only by law-abiding nations. (Kinda reminds us of the adage that if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.) There is mounting evidence that nations like France, Germany and Russia – those members of the UN Security Council that so adamantly opposed Operation Iraqi Freedom – have been in flagrant violation of UN sanctions in Iraq for years. They now want to sit in oversight of Iraq’s interim administration and reconstruction. No thanks.

Laughably, now that Iraq has been liberated and President Bush has called on the UN to lift all sanctions, the UN is refusing until Hans Blix and his team are back on the ground and can affirm that all of Iraq’s WMD programs have been discontinued. (And we thought the UN Security Council balked at Operation Iraqi Freedom because they were already satisfied Saddam had no WMD.)

And why, you ask, does Old Europe insist on controlling the postwar process, via the UN? Simply stated, their vested economic and political interests in Iraq and the region – including illegal oil and arms contracts and billions of dollars in Iraqi IOUs – make the more-or-less laisser-faire postwar approach of the Anglo-American coalition seem anything but imperialistic and oil-thirsty.

Speaking of laughable, Jacques Chirac called President Bush this week in what French Ambassador to the U.S. Jean-David Levitte characterized as a “key to reopening the door to friendship. You Americans saved us twice in the last century, and we will never forget it.” (He really said that!)

It was Thomas Jefferson who warned in 1801: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” Significantly, the aftermath of Iraq’s liberation is the stage for the future of our “entangling alliance” with the UN. For more on why The Federalist concludes that the time has come for the U.S. to separate from the UN, and lay it to rest along side the League of Nations, see our supplemental essay, “The United Nations: Much Ado About Nothing.” Link to – https://patriotpost.us/alexander/2003/04/18/the-united-nations-much-ado-about-nothing/

In other news…

On top of the difficult process of establishing a functional democracy in Iraq after years of tyrannical rule, the U.S. also has begun the high-stakes search to determine where Iraq’s WMD arsenals are located. Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted, “We still have a lot of work to do in finding and securing weapons of mass destruction sites and making sure that those…weapons don’t fall in the hands of terrorists.”

Assisting in that search are a few captured Iraqi WMD program chiefs who are being “vigorously encouraged” to tell us what they know. Jaffar al-Jaffer, head of Iraq’s nuclear WMD program who fled Iraq for Syria last month, is now in U.S. custody along with Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi, Saddam’s military WMD and long-range missile chief. Our sources indicate that al-Saadi most likely knows all there is to know about where Saddam’s WMD arsenals are located. And the home of microbiologist Rihab Taha, AKA “Dr. Germ,” who headed the anthrax-weaponization program, was raided by U.S. Special Forces, and substantial evidence seized.

The overwhelming success of the regime-change in Iraq – the domino effect of a proposed democracy in the heart of the Muslim world, combined with the U.S. mission to eliminate the Jihadistan WMD threat – is creating some heartburn for Saddam’s former allies. Most notably, last November, The Federalist reported that our intelligence sources believed some of Saddam’s biological and nuclear WMD caches had been moved to Syria, though we still think substantial caches remain in Iraq. To that end, Secretary of State Powell put the Ba'athist regime of Bashar Assad in Damascus on notice Monday that if they don’t come clean now, they are next in line to get “Saddamized”: “As the President noted over the weekend, we are concerned that Syria has been participating in the development of weapons of mass destruction… [T]hey should review their actions and their behavior…especially the support of terrorist activity. And so we have a new situation in the region and we hope that all the nations in the region will now review their past practices and behavior.”

To ensure Assad was all ears, the U.S. closed the spigot on an oil pipeline from Iraq estimated to pump 150,000 to 200,000 barrels of oil to Syria daily.

Speaking of “terrorism,” there have been numerous discoveries in Iraq to support the terrorism element of the “nexus” between weapons of mass destruction and Jihadis as premier delivery and dispersal systems. And another “smoking gun” was found in Baghdad Tuesday. U.S. Special Forces captured long-sought terrorist Abu Abbas, who led the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985 and murdered elderly disabled American passenger Leon Klinghoffer.

Of course, Abu Abbas is only the latest of the terrorist smoking guns. In addition to reams of evidence linking Iraqi intelligence to al-Qa'ida discovered in the last month, last August The Federalist reported that Abu Nidal, a leading Jihadistan mastermind responsible for three decades of murder and mayhem, was found dead in Baghdad. Nidal headed the Fatah-Revolutionary Council, which is culpable for hundreds of terrorist attacks and murders.

Quote of the week…

“Our work is not done; the difficulties have not passed; but the regime of Saddam Hussein has passed into history. Thanks to the courage and the might of our military, the American people are more secure. Thanks to the courage and might of our military, the Iraqi people are now free.” –President George W. Bush

On cross-examination…

“Our military no longer is just a fighting force per se, but is asked to preserve oil fields, clear waterways, organize oppressed peoples like the Kurds, feed those without food and water, and under fire distinguish killers from innocents. When it clears Iraq of Saddam Hussein, it will have been done more to feed and help the Iraqi people than all the efforts of the UN of the last two decades.” –Victor Hanson

Open query…

“How many more thousands of Iraqis dancing in the streets as Saddam’s statues are pulled down would it take for the naysayers to admit that they were mistaken?” –David Stolinsky