GUERILLA WAR IN IRAQ….Novelist and military historian Caleb Carr enters the “Why Can’t We Find the WMD?” sweepstakes with a brand new entry today in the Los Angeles Times. Maybe Saddam really did destroy the WMD, Carr says, but pretended otherwise precisely so that he could lure us into war. His kind of war:
What if, acting on this realization [that our military would crush his], he abandoned a biochemical campaign before the war started, destroying or hiding his weapons of mass destruction deep underground, in terrain controlled by his most ardent supporters, while stockpiling enough cash to bankroll a different kind of Armageddon?
I’m speaking here of a carefully planned effort to sow anarchy and thus a desire among the Iraqi people for the return of a strong hand, as well as a complementary effort to destroy American domestic will when it comes to sustaining a gruesome and grueling occupation.
Basically, Carr suggests that Saddam knew he couldn’t win a conventional war, so he suckered us into an easy victory and now plans to beat us via a long war of attrition that we don’t have the stomach for. Left unexplained, however, is why Saddam would pursue such a baroque strategy. After all, if his goal was simply to retain power all he had to do was cooperate with the inspectors for a while and wait for them to go away.
Still, although Carr’s theory seems silly, his broader point is probably sound: we need to keep lots of troops, lots of special forces, and lots of police in Iraq in order to fight something that appears to be quickly turning into a guerilla war. How many and for how long he doesn’t suggest, but the answer to that, unfortunately, is “a lot” and “a long time.”