The Iraqi Quagmire

The Iraqi Quagmire

Sobering piece by Scott Rosenberg. Quote:

Back in March, on the eve of war, I quoted one knowledgeable observer’s predictions:

In a Fresh Air interview tonight that I can only describe as “dreadful,” in the primal meaning of the word, CIA historian Thomas Powers put details on the face of these fears. He predicted, as everyone does, a swift U.S. victory in a month or so. Then a couple months of calm. Then, a gradual awareness: That this project of installing a client government in Iraq, even in the sunniest of outcomes, must last a generation or more. That hundreds of thousands of American troops have now become sitting-duck targets for suicidal terrorists who will have no need to hijack a plane to access their foes. That these troops will now sit on the border with another “axis of evil” enemy, Iran, which, like Saddam’s Iraq, also seeks nuclear weapons. That this war, like Bush’s larger “war on terrorism,” has no clear definition of its aims, its scope or its foes — and that such a war has no end in sight and can have no victory.

That’s pretty much the way it’s gone. This analysis from the New York Times’ Michael Gordon outlines the shape of the guerrilla war we are now locked in, in which each day’s news brings another report of an ambush or an attack, another dead American soldier, another reprisal against some Baathist holdout, another batch of Iraqis wounded or killed.

The warmongering crowd sneered at those who cautioned of this likelihood; we were lily-livered traitors whose use of the word “quagmire” was lampooned as a ludicrous artifact of the Vietnam era. Then consider this quote which appeared in a dispatch from the Times’ Steven Lee Myers, who appears to have spent enough time with the troops he is covering to win their trust:

“You call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home,” Pfc. Matthew C. O’Dell, an infantryman in Sergeant Betancourt’s platoon, said as he stood guard on Tuesday. “Tell him to come spend a night in our building.”