The Fall of Baghdad — currently scheduled for sometime between next week and June — might not mean the end of the war. Or at least according to Gary Anderson, a retired USMC colonel. Read:
The second phase would be a protracted guerrilla war against the “occupation,” which the American-British coalition bills as liberation. It is now obvious that the Baath Party has seeded the urban and semi-urban population centers of the country with cadres designed to lead such a guerrilla movement; this is not a last-minute act of desperation or an afterthought. Americans have overrun facilities that have been in place for some time. The war would be waged as an attritional struggle against the occupying forces and any Iraqi interim government. Attempts at free elections would be subverted and portrayed as a sham. The strategic objective of this phase would be to have the Americans and British tire of the effort and turn it over to the United Nations.
Phase III would then be to amass enough semi-conventional power to overwhelm the U.N. and interim government mechanisms. In other words, the concept would be to stage a combination of “Black Hawk Down” and the 1975 North Vietnamese offensive that crushed South Vietnam. A success here would transform Hussein from a regional pariah into a darling of the Arab world. This is a high-risk strategy, but Saddam Hussein is a high-risk kind of guy.
My reason for writing this is not to postulate a gloom-and-doom scenario but to suggest that we be prepared to react to an enemy game plan that may be different from our own. This plan is not devoid of significant dangers from an Iraqi perspective. First, it would be hard for Baath Party operatives to make the transition from the role of Sheriff of Nottingham to that of Robin Hood. But it would not be impossible.
Yeah, that’s the nightmare scenario — all of Iraq turned into the West Bank, with the US Army taking on the terrible role of the IDF.
Likely? No, and for one very good reason. Yasser Arafat was for years a “popular” Arab nationalist leader. From exile, he stayed true to his cause of Palestinian independence. His luster only faded after he became a petty local tyrant, under the Oslo Accords.
Saddam already is a hated tyrant. I doubt he has the ability to become the beloved leader-in-exile of a popular front. Assuming, of course, he’s still alive.
I’m not saying Anderson’s fears aren’t legitimate. Hell, the idea keeps me awake from time to time. But here’s to hoping the scenario isn’t likely.