I only wish I had said it. When Gen. Brooks showed the deck of cards with the Saddam Most Wanted List on them–about 55 of them–one gent with a Brit accent asked if the suddenly unseen Propaganda Minister was in there as the joker. But the endgame for the regime is being played, and it’s no joke.
The surrender of the Iraqi Fifth Corps near Mosul is in the final stages of negotiation. Its commander signed a cease-fire earlier. These guys are regular army, not “Special Republican Guard”, so they should be allowed to surrender. Killing them–unless we have to–proves nothing. Let’s let ‘em go, unless they try a faked surrender and open fire. Then it’s time to pull a couple of miles back and let them have one of those McAlester MOABs.
Considerable fighting goes on in Qaim, a small border town on the Baghdad-Damascus highway. Baathist leaders–those few who are still in Iraq–are likely still trying to get out. That crossing point is their best bet–or was, until our spec ops guys got there. Now they’ll have to get out another way. As Tommy Franks said today, the Saddam clique is either dead or on the run. Except for those who are already in Syria, General.
The murder of the prominent cleric yesterday is part oft he false fedayeen campaign. We musn’t use the term “Saddam loyalists” for these guys. They are imported terrorists, who come not to defend Saddam but to keep Iraqi from becoming a stable democracy. Remember, as Ollie North has been reporting, not one of these thugs who has been captured or killed has proven to be Iraqi. They will fight as long as they can be sustained by reinforcements, money and supplies coming in from those nations–Syria, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Yemen–who sent them there in the first place.
News that the ten terrorists held in a Yemeni prison for the bombing of the USS Cole have escaped. An accident? A coincidence? Yemen, for those who may have forgotten, is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden.
Catastrophic success is what Big Dog calls it. In the Pentagon briefing a little while ago, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers were taken to task–again–for the failures of the military plan. The same flying pigs who two weeks ago were doing their “sky is falling” routine on the “quagmire,” and earlier this week talking about how we won too easily because the Iraqis were a pushover, are now bleating about how we weren’t ready to put the police, firemen, and school teachers in place immediately after Baghdad fell. I need more aspirin.
Truth is, we need to do what we can to help Iraqis restore order. But as Big Dog says, the price of freedom includes some period of instability. Too bad, CNN. And while we’re at it, soldiers aren’t policemen. It’s contrary to their training, and should be. A soldier is trained to inflict the maximum damage on the enemy in the shortest time, and win. A cop needs to use the minimum force to restore order. One cannot live in the mind of the other. And shouldn’t.
The fight around Qaim, on the Syrian border, remains intense. It is more intense, and the enemy more determined, than in almost every other engagement in the war so far. What–or who–they’re trying to protect or smuggle into Syria must be very important. WMD, Saddam’s closest cronies, or whatever. Count on this: whether they get into Syria or not, we’ll get whoever or whatever is there. As the Gipper said, they can run, but they can’t hide. At least not forever.