With the recent upsurge in violence in Iraq (hundreds killed by suicide bombers, random shootings, and the like), I’ve been reminded of Donald Rumsfeld’s comments about the insurgency being in its “death throes.” And while I’m not signing on to it, I think I see some signs he might not be completely talking through his hat.
1) The single bloodiest battle the United States fought in Europe during World War II was the Battle of The Bulge, the December 1944 counteroffensive by the Nazis against the advancing Allies. The battle went on for a month, and in the end there were almost 150,000 killed or wounded on both sides, and nearly 1500 tanks destroyed. The battle officially ended on January 15, 1945. Germany unconditionally surrendered less than four months later, after almost six years of war.
2) The single bloodiest battle in the Pacific was the US invasion of the island of Okinawa on April 1, 1945. Over two and a half months later, on June 21, after over 300,000 civilians, Japanese combatants, and American combatants were killed or wounded, the battle was declared over. Japan announced its surrender less than two months later, on August 15, and formally signed the surrender on September 2, 1945.
3) The terrorists in Iraq have completely lost their focus. They initially stated that their goal was to drive out the Americans and our allies. They proclaimed themselves the “liberators” of the Iraqi people. Now, that it’s proven incredibly expensive and dangerous to attack the “occupying infidels,” they’re lashing out at the very people they proclaim they wish to “liberate.” The most recent attack was against the poorest, lowest, least influential people: those simply lining up in hopes of gaining work to support themselves and their families.
This brings up the obvious question to those who advocate getting out of Iraq immediately: right now, the most powerful force in the country is us. In that absence, it will become a struggle between two parties: the nascent Iraqi government duly elected in a fair election, and the terrorists. I don’t have any hard numbers to back it up, so I’ll say they’re roughly equal. But if we pull out under fire, Iraq will become one huge Gaza Strip, with the terrorists declaring it a great victory and using it as a rallying cry to draw support and assert power. Meanwhile, the fragile government that still greatly depends on our support will most likely crumble and collapse.
All those millions of Iraqis who defied the terrorists and proudly cast their first, free votes last winter will be thrown to the wolves.
One of the greatest problems I have with the first President Bush was his first encouraging Iraqis to overthrow Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War, then wimping out and pulling the rug out from under them, leading to wholesale slaughter and genocide (that he will finally be brought to justice for soon). The current President Bush has made great strides in correcting the harm that did to the United States’ reputation, but if we once again toss the Iraqi people (especially the Kurds) aside, we will have almost no credibility or moral standing left in the world.
And rightfully so.
WIth all that said, do I think that Rumsfeld was right when he said the Iraqi insurgency was in its “death throes?” I don’t know. But if history is any guide, he very well might be right.