Even before the start of combat operations in Iraq, Bush administration spokesmen and the media were focusing on Baghdad as the location of the war's defining battle. These same sources also have proffered the notion that, because the regime of Saddam Hussein is dictatorial and oppressive, it is ripe for being overthrown. The Iraqi people, having suffered for so many years, will surely welcome liberation by allied forces.
Yet World War II offers an unsettling parallel. When Germany invaded Russia, Joseph Stalin, leading a murderous regime that was responsible for the deaths of millions, was able to marshal the people to repel the invasion by appealing to their patriotism, much as Saddam Hussein is doing now with the Iraqis.
In 1942 the Germans focused on the capture of Stalingrad and extended their military's lines dangerously in a futile attempt to take a militarily insignificant piece of real estate. They thought the city's capture would cause the Stalinist regime to fall.
A country cannot win a war until it convinces its enemy that it has lost. I pray that our leaders are not repeating history by linking the capture of Baghdad with ultimate victory and by underestimating the powers of patriotic resistance to foreign invasion.
One striking difference between this Iraqi war and the last one is that the Arab world today has a viable international news organization. With al-Jazeera airing horror stories and photos from Iraq, we are bound to lose the war of international public opinion regarding this invasion.
Our campaign of "shock and awe" was witnessed with shock and horror and followed by condemnation in the Arab nightly news.
I fear that President Bush has launched the mother of all political and diplomatic blunders.
Most people would agree with retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey that we ought to have more troops in Iraq ["Questions Raised About Invasion Force," news story, March 25]. Most generals throughout history would like to have had more troops; I can't think of one who said he had too many.
But I'm trying to understand Gen. McCaffrey's motive when he tells the world at this critical time that we don't have enough troops in Iraq. No one can, by magic or other means, suddenly produce more divisions. So I wish he would save his criticism until after the war. His negative comments serve no useful purpose, and they undermine the morale and spirit of our fighting women and men.
The March 25 White House Notebook insinuated that while the small island nations of Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia are part of the war coalition, they offer nothing else in the way of military support.
This is untrue. All three of these Pacific island nations have entered into a Compact of Free Association with the United States and have citizens fighting in American uniforms.
Many of us in Micronesia have family and friends stationed in the Middle East who are participating in this war against Iraq on behalf of the United States. They are all willing, they are all able, and they are all defending our country.
They should be recognized for this valor.
Trust Liaison for the People of Bikini
Majuro, Marshall Islands