Good morning Vietnams?

“Patriotism is supporting the country, not supporting the president”

—Theodore Roosevelt

Last week, American commanders ordered a temporary halt in the advance toward Baghdad. This week, reports are surfacing of head butting between Gen. Tommy Franks and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Field commanders are complaining of the lack of supplies and air support. Is the grand strategy of shock and awe unraveling?

The troops, it seems, have outrun their supplies. Armor is out of gas and rations, in many cases, have been cut to one meal a day. Much of the needed supplies are somewhere along the 300-mile route between Kuwait and the spearhead of the Anglo-American forces, about 50 miles from Baghdad.

This conflict has had an unprecedented amount of coverage from the media types traveling with the troops and from other journalists inside Iraq, yet we have no clear idea of what is happening.

Even the Israelis, who are far closer to the scene than we, are complaining. Their researchers and senior military officers, according to Ha’aretz, the Israeli daily, are saying they’ve never seen a war with so much disinformation about what’s happening on the battlefield. “Everyone is lying about everything,” said one expert.

These observers are in agreement that despite media hype, there haven’t been any especially difficult battles to date and that U.S.-U.K. forces have achieved some goals.

Professor Martin van Creveld, a military historian, said: “Everyone is lying about everything all the time, and it is difficult to say what is happening. I’ve stopped listening. All the pictures shown on TV are color pieces which have no significance. There is a lot of disinformation. Every word that is spoken is suspect.”

Yossi Peled, former commander of Israel’s Northern Command, believes the U.S. has shown great skill in controlling the media.

“You have lots of television crews in the field, yet as someone watching TV, you have no overall picture,” he said.

The recent sandstorms have stalled much of the high-tech armaments used by the invading force. This is another indicator of flawed planning on the part of the Pentagon and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Planners apparently got their information, or some of it, from members of the Iraqi National Congress, a dissident group hoping to take charge when Saddam is gone. They advised planners that a small, well-armed force moving quickly would be welcomed by the Iraqi people with open arms. More importantly, this viewpoint was also pushed in the very initial phases of planning for the war by think-tank types advising the administration.

Instead, Iraqi army and tribal resistance is stiffening, and casualties on both sides are rising. Some of this was revealed last summer in the $250,000 “Millennium Challenge” war games, ostensibly to test the invasion strategy. Some 13,000 troops and many, many computers were involved.

Despite all the sophisticated weaponry, Marine Lt. General Paul Van Riper, playing the part of Saddam Hussein, beat the stuffing out of the vaunted Pentagon war machine.

He did it by using unorthodox methods and surprise. While the Pentagon brass expected him to use modern communications to direct his troops, Van Riper used motorcycle couriers and made coded announcements from the minarets of the mosques.

Before the game was far underway, the 64-year-old Vietnam veteran sank most of the U.S. fleet in the Persian Gulf, bringing the American-British assault to an abrupt shutdown.

So, did the Pentagon chair jockeys admit defeat? Not on your budget bloater. They declared the fleet re-floated and all combat casualties reincarnated. Worse, they told Van Riper’s forces to look the other way while U.S.-U.K. troops made an amphibious landing. Van Riper quit in disgust.

The retired Marine general, speaking before the current clash, told the British newspaper The Guardian that when the real fighting starts, American troops will be sent into battle with a set of half-baked tactics that are untested. Referring to the war games, Van Riper said: “Nothing was learned from this. A culture not willing to think hard and test itself does not augur well for the future.” He said the game was rigged from the outset.

“A phrase I heard over and over was: ‘That would never have happened,’” Van Riper said. “And I said: nobody would have thought that anyone would fly an airliner into the World Trade Center…but nobody seemed interested.”

That is the kind of logic G.W. Bush and his groupies don’t want to hear. Dubya paid little attention to what his father said back in 1998. Back then, George H. Bush said: “We should not march into Baghdad.” The comment was made in his book, A World Transformed. “To occupy Iraq,” said the senior Bush, “would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day Arab hero … assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerrilla war. It could only plunge that part of the world into even greater instability.”

Junior has managed to accomplish most of that, but somehow I don’t think he’ll put it on his resumé.

Arab public opinion is outraged at the American attack. The anti-American riots in Egypt are indicative how this war is threatening the stability of the moderate Arab states. Jordan and the Persian Gulf states are beset with unrest, and the militant Muslims are gaining ground. Most clerics have declared a Jihad against America, and many reports exist of Arabs entering Iraq to help fight us. The images of slain civilians are being broadcast around the world.

While American and British media carefully avoid showing the human tragedy of this conflict—such as the small Iraqi girl brought to a hospital with her intestines spilling from her abdomen, the victim of one of our air strikes—and Arab TV shows such scenes repeatedly. Now we have the van load of dead women and children.

In the meantime, few are paying much attention to the fact that violent deaths and dying have not stopped in Afghanistan. Mohammed Miraki, Ph.D., who reports from that Afghanistan, estimates 1,200 U.S. soldiers have perished there since the fighting began. Miraki believes another 1,500 have been wounded critically. He cites various news reports of American helicopters shot down, rocket attacks on airfields and military vehicles, and ambushes in the mountainous terrain.

The American government and media (one in the same?) have not made the tallies of fatalities and wounded widely known.

American media repeats the administration line that we have achieved a great victory in Afghanistan and the people are liberated. The truth, says Miraki, is that U.S. troops barely control the capital of Kabul. Outside that city, the warlords rule, and there is resurgence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Will we have the same scenario in Iraq? Good morning Vietnams! It may turn out that there is a regime change after all, it just may not be in Baghdad.

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