Wednesday, July 23, 2003

The Second Dying

The American Tiger and the Ba'athist Elephant

Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post reports on how a nonstop series of operations gradually picked apart the Iraqi Ba'ath network, sweeping up, among others, Qusay and Uday Hussein.

Until early June, when the Army launched the first of three major offensives in the an area known as the Sunni triangle north and west of Baghdad, U.S. officials didn’t fully grasp the extent of Baathist resistance in the area, one Army official said today. ... As a result, U.S. commanders changed their minds about sending the entire 3rd Infantry Division home, as they had hoped to do by the end of last month. ...  The raids also led to a sharp increase in U.S. casualties in June, with a soldier dying nearly every day. This official estimated that close to 60 percent of U.S. casualties came in the course of offensive operations by the U.S. troops or Baathist responses to those attacks.

The real payoffs began, Ricks says, when the US stopped looking for the Husseins directly and began concentrating on the rank and file Ba'athists.  

We shifted our focus from very high-level personalities to the people that are causing us damage,” Gen. John P. Abizaid, the new commander of the U.S. military in the Middle East, said in an interview last weekend. Later, he told reporters in Baghdad: “In the past two weeks, we have been getting the mid-level leadership in a way that is effective.”

The captured Baathists provided much new detail about their organization and contacts, officials here said. Some gave information about their financing and their means of communication, they added. Others identified members of their networks. Some described the routes and contacts that fugitive leaders were using.  “You get a tip, you pull a couple of guys in, they start to talk,” a Central Command official said. Then, based on that information, he continued, “you do a raid, you confiscate some documents, you start building the tree” of contacts and “you start doing signals intercepts. And then you’re into the network.”

The 4th ID alone was conducting 18 raids a day in recent weeks. Although the US was taking casualties, the arithmetic of war was going entirely their way. The Belmont Club has consistently argued that, from the military point of view, the methodical evisceration of the Ba'ath was doing far more damage than the public-relations oriented attacks of the Saddam loyalists. "The mid-level operatives who were captured turned out to be knowledgeable about how the top targets on the U.S. list were evading capture. “There was a snowball effect,” a senior Army official said today." Just as the media have focused on the handful of American casualties in their coverage, they will probably emphasize the demise of the Hussein scions while ignoring the far more important cumulative damage to the Ba'ath. It is the loss of 50 or more trained personnel a day for weeks at a stretch, and not the loss of two dysfunctional incompetents, that will collapse the Saddam loyalists in the end.

The realization that America is, contrary to fantasy, actually winning, has plunged the Left into denial and anger. This is how some BBC listeners reacted to the news that Saddam Hussein's two sons had been killed by the 101st Airborne:

Any premeditated and intentioned killing is a murder. No wonder USA is seeking to be excluded from war crime trial by ICC. They sought them to kill them. That's murder. --Henry Bedmoth, Uganda

Why not arrest them? -- Robert van den Heuvel, Netherlands

Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-NY, maintained that the US acted illegally in raiding the Hussein hideout. "We have a law on the books that the United States should not be assassinating anybody," Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-NY, told Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes." The front-running Democratic Presidential hopeful Howard Dean is only slightly less annoyed, "It's a victory for the Iraqi people ... but it doesn't have any effect on whether we should or shouldn't have had a war," Dean said. "I think in general the ends do not justify the means." Journalist Robert Fisk saw the death of the dictator's heirs as the death knell for imperialist America: "If he and his sons are dead, the chances are that the opposition to the American-led occupation will grow rather than diminish - on the grounds that with Saddam gone, Iraqis will have nothing to lose by fighting the Americans."

God Dies Twice in a Hundred Years

Yet the Leftist disappointment in the poor performance of their "side" raises the question of why the heirs of Marx and Lenin, heretofore the principal actors of world revolution, have been reduced to mere spectators on the field. Only those old enough to remember the Left in its heyday -- or crazy enough to have read its history -- can appreciate what a shadow of it's former self it has become. For once upon a time, dear reader, there was militant world religion styled the Communist International that would not have condescended to treat with Islam. In it's apostolic age, the disciples of Marx walked the earth like Titans. A single disciple, burning with the fire of revolution, could set a whole continent aflame. Lenin, Trostky, Tan Malacca, Ho Chi Minh, and Mao, to name a few, each in turn claimed millions for Marx.

There is a contemporaneous poster from the Leftist Apostolic age showing an idealized Lincoln Steffens, newly returned from the Soviet Union, standing before a brilliant sunrise captioned "Russia" intoning "I have seen the future and it works!" Probably nothing captured the sense of rapture felt by early Leftists more than the mystical International Workers of the World, the Wobblies, one of whose posters depicts a chain of workers dancing around a representation of the globe trembling on the verge of eternal earthly paradise. For that is what they purposed to build -- after killing the Christian God. In Nietzche's classic Parable of the Madman, a lunatic runs into the marketplace accusing the Europe of Deicide.

How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?
What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled
to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us?
What water is there for us to clean ourselves?
What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?
Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?

The Left, in it's scarce-remembered magnificence, confidently set out to build a replacement god and paradise for that which it had killed. Oh how high its hopes had been! But just as today's Europe is filled with empty churches and cathedrals, so is it littered by the empty meeting halls and abandoned iconography of the shattered Marxist faith. That god, too has died. The flyblown Revolution bookstores and the hawkers of Green Left may still to be found on street corners, but the inner core of dedicated revolutionaries has vanished, destroyed by disillusion or combat with America. With the Bolshevik cadre gone, the center has been taken over by the "useful fools" of the periphery. Homosexual marriage, man-boy love, tree-hugging, pardon for all mass murderers, universal abortion, organic food, Voluntary Human Extinction, and a grab-bag of lunatic causes have replaced the old "scientific socialism" and are what constitute the tattered program of the Left.

Small wonder that in it's degenerate condition, the Left soon found itself losing adherents to militant Islam, which, if it could not offer a paradise on earth, which the Left could not either, might at least promise 72 virgins in the hereafter. All over the world, the disaffected turned away from Marxism and came to Islam. All those who would not flock to the old banner of the West, came not to the Left but to Allah, nor even the Allah of the Sufis, who you might meet face to face while strolling in a garden; but for the Allah of the Wahabists, all gore, grue and mumbo-jumbo.

Whose death does Nietzsche's lunatic now proclaim in the marketplace, except the gods of Marx? Poor old Europe, that it should lose two faiths within a century. It can at least, keep up the cheering for whichever dictator has the worst foot odor and ugliest facial hair. Whoever said that the Left had no sense of humor?