A couple of comments on the war, made in full acknowledgement that it is very difficult to judge what is going on and any comments may be overtaken by events before they are posted..
The kind of campaign the US is running not unprecedented. It is like the effort to oust Noriega from Panama. In that case too, we attacked from several directions without a lot of preparatory air strikes and tried to paralyze the leadership, which was our target. During the 1990s, some forward thinkers in the military argued that Panama would be the model for future warfare and not Desert Storm. The difference between Panama and Iraq II is that we now have better tools to conduct such a campaign. So far, for example, many fewer civilians have been killed in Iraq than in Panama, although obviously the fight for Baghdad lies ahead. We should hope there is another difference. In Panama, we did not plan sufficiently for what would happen when the fighting stopped. The result was a disaster: lots of looting and disarray, which significantly slowed Panama’s recovery.
More Iraqis are fighting than some people thought would fight and we have not yet encountered the more elite and cohesive units. If it is true, as Rumsfeld said Saturday, that the Iraqi leadership has lost control of the country, this resistance is significant. Two things are different from the first Iraq war. First, most of the surrenders in that case, as far as I know, followed B-52 bombings. Iraqi soldiers in adjacent positions were informed through leaflets that if they did not surrender they would be next. Tens of thousands surrendered. One might call this a shock and awe campaign. We have not done this yet in Iraq II. The other thing that is different is that the surrenders occurred last time in Kuwait. This time Iraqis are fighting in Iraq. Some Iraqis appear to be defending their homeland. Perhaps surrenders will increase as the intensity of the campaign grows. The Republican guard formations in front of Baghdad could be targets for the kind of bombing that occurred in Iraq I.
In response to Eric Claeys: First, I think we should turn Iraq over to the UN as soon as possible. The longer we stay, the more it looks like colonization. The problem is that UN administration is not likely to be effective, at least initially. The bad publicity from this will add to our difficulties in the Middle East and the Muslim world. It is also the case, that the UN might be hesitant to take over a problem they did not authorize us to create. France is reportedly uncooperative about post-war activities, since approving them would, it argues, condone our invasion.
Second, we should do our best to keep the Turks out of Iraq because Kurds and Turks are likely to start fighting each other. The Kurds say they want an autonomous region within a federal Iraq. The Turks don’t want them to have this. Even less do they want the Kurds to have what they Kurds really want, independence. The Turk-Kurd problem is just one case of the tribal/ethnic complexities that may make post-Saddam Iraq a difficult place.