Anti-American demonstrations continue in Baghdad, even as the Shia population enjoys the freedom of religion denied it for three decades. Many if not all of these demonstrations are organized by non-Iraqi elements as part of their plan to continue to destabilize Iraq. This morning, one CNN reporter whose name I happily forget said that despite the fact the demonstrations are organized, it doesn’t mean that they don’t represent the feelings of many Iraqis. She–and many others in CNN–can no longer be trusted with the news. They are captives of their own constituencies, sources and editors who depend on news from foreign governments.
I did watch CNN many times during the Iraq campaign because they seemed to have more embedded reporters than anyone else, and did a good job of reporting what they saw. Now that the major military action is over, they are reverting to their old reputation as the “Clinton News Network.” And it’s a pity. Their dependency on the foreign governments–coupled with their own liberal view of the world–precludes objectivity. Their failure is as pronounced as the failure of the Iraqi armed forces.
That the Republican Guard failed miserably as a fighting force won’t mean that we will hear no more of them. The Arab press continues to bewail the blow to Arab manhood received when the Guards–along with the Saddam Air Force and most other of the regime’s troops–decided that while abusing unarmed civilians can be fun, fighting the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army was not and either did the French salute or simply slithered out of their uniforms and melted away. The longer the Arab press dwells on that point, the more likely that the lesson may actually sink in.
But other Republican Guard elements may still be active. When I spoke to Ollie North yesterday he was with the 4th Infantry Division near Tikrit. Ollie told us about an engagement the night before when a couple of dozen false fedayeen made the mistake of trying to ambush an element of the 4th Infantry Division. Among the fedayeen dead were two former Republican Guard officers. There’s no way to know if they were actually commanding the group that attacked our guys. But the tactics they used indicated that someone who had military training was leading them. More of this is sure to come. Especially if these guys can get support from outside Iraq from people who can supply them and train them to use the arms stashed everywhere. Arms depots are apparently all over Iraq. You literally can’t go five miles in any direction without finding one. Ollie said something like, “Saddam Hussein was to weapons what Imelda Marcos was to shoes.” I’ll let him straighten out the line when he gets back.
American forces are standing guard over Iraq’s oil fields, helped in the north by the Kurds. That we secured the oil fields without allowing Saddam’s people to set them on fire is one of the less-noticed but significant victories in this campaign. There are less-noticed troops, as well. First among them are the Coast Guardsmen who are patrolling coastal waters, helping SEALs interdict possible waterborne terror. I saw a photo of a Coastie standing on an offshore oil-pumping station, scanning the water through binoculars with a .50 cal. machinegun only a step away. The terrorist threat to the oil remains active, and the Coasties are on the line against it. We all need to remember that Coast Guardsmen are among the nation’s Medal of Honor recipients from past wars.
The 4th I.D. is now restoring order in the north, and will be there for some time. If only they could be doing the same for the U.N. Security Council. The French can be relied on for one thing: cloying and ploying to get their noses back under the tent. The “suspend sanctions” ploy is about as subtle as Jacques Clouseau’s “old closet ploy,” mistaking a closet door for a room exit. Now, his Parisian cousins want us to follow them into the U.N. closet again, so they can regain control of Iraqi oil exports to line their pockets.
Sanctions must be lifted entirely, and if they are not we should simply put the interim government authority in the oil export business. I’m sure the Japanese, Russians, and others will buy as much of the oil as they can regardless of U.N. blessing. With the resulting revenues, we can get Iraq rebuilt faster than those who want to meddle will like. Which is all the more reason to free the Iraqi oil with or without the U.N. To put the U.N. sanctions on hold leaves the U.N. with some claim to power over the future of Iraq. This we cannot allow.