The Iraqi ‘Quagmire’ In Quotes


On March 19th, American forces launched a “decapitation attack” designed to take out senior Iraqi leadership (including Saddam) in the opening moments of the war. But by March 24th, the media had already started sinking into a deep funk. That was the first day that the dreaded “V-Word” came up at a press conference. Then for roughly the next week and a half, the media became despondent. It was so bad I even wrote: satire: about it.

Yet, here we are three weeks into the war and we have people: asking,: “If Iraq was so unable to defend itself, was it really the threat to the world on which this whole war was predicated?’

Well, the media may want you to forget about the incredibly pessimistic spin that they were putting on the war, but we here at RWN wanted to make sure that didn’t happen. That’s why I put together these quotes. Read and enjoy!

-: “We ought to be able to do it (take Baghdad),” he told the Newsnight Program on Britain’s BBC Television late on Monday.

“In the process if they (the Iraqis) actually fight, and that’s one of the assumptions, clearly it’s going to be brutal, dangerous work and we could take, bluntly, a couple to 3,000 casualties,” said McCaffrey who became one of the most senior ranking members of the U.S. military following the 1991 war.”: –: Barry McCaffreyon March 24, 2003.

-: “Barely a week into the war, with coalition forces sweeping through Iraq, ABC’s Peter Jennings and CBS’s Lesley Stahl decided to raise the ghost of the Vietnam quagmire. Jennings teased Wednesday’s World News Tonight by hyping how‘one Marine’: told an ABC reporter that given the landscape, weather and guerrilla tactics,: ‘sometimes’: Iraq: ‘feels like Vietnam.’: The night before, on CBS’s 48 Hours, Lesley Stahl asked a Vietnam vet:: ‘You fought in Vietnam. Are you getting any feelings of deja vu?’: –: Peter Jennings And Leslie Stahl: on March 26 & 27, 2003.

-: “The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs, defeated…. Every time we confront Iraqi troops we may win some tactical battles, as we did for 10 years in Vietnam, but we will not be able to win this war, which in my opinion is already lost.”: –: Scott Ritter: on March 27, 2003.

-: “…(W)e’re embroiled in a conflict that looks like a bad remake of Vietnam with an enemy that fights in civilian dress. The bravado of a week ago is gone. ‘It’s out of our hands,’ sighs a White House aide. In an echo of Vietnam, military leaders say they are hamstrung by the rules of engagement. It’s a tough sell to a 21-year-old and even his commander that the political cost of shooting people who may or may not turn out to be civilians is too high. ‘It’s the price you pay when you’re a superpower going up against a fourth-rate military power,’ says a Senate Democrat. ‘You have a higher standard to uphold.’: –: Eleanor Clift: in an editorial called, “A Bad Remake Of Vietnam” on March 28, 2003

-: “‘Rumsfeld says we can’t write the history yet. Perhaps, but I think we’re close. The US-British plan was to blow up small bits of Baghdad and fool the Iraqis into believing they had the resolve to actually fight a war. They weren’t fooled. Both sides dug in, to a stalemate. Eventually the American-led force withdrew, after thousands of casualties at the hands of terrorists from all over the Middle East, leaving Iraq to be ruled by a strengthened Ba’ath Party. In the aftermath, the world lost its last remaining superpower (which was mostly a public relations idea in the end)”: –: Dave Winer: on March 28, 2003.

-: “U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly rejected advice from Pentagon planners that substantially more troops and armor would be needed to fight a war in Iraq, New Yorker Magazine reported.

…”They’ve got no resources. He was so focused on proving his point — that the Iraqis were going to fall apart,” the article, by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, cited an unnamed former high-level intelligence official as saying.

…Hersh, however, quoted the former intelligence official as saying the war was now a stalemate.

Much of the supply of Tomahawk cruise missiles has been expended, aircraft carriers were going to run out of precision guided bombs and there were serious maintenance problems with tanks, armored vehicles and other equipment, the article said.

“The only hope is that they can hold out until reinforcements arrive,” the former official said.”: –: Reuters: on March 29, quoting from an article that was to be released in the April 7th edition of Newsweek.

-: “Mr. Hussein seems to have decided that he can turn this war into Vietnam Redux. He appears willing to take casualties and to give away territory to gain time. Over time, his strategy implies, he thinks he can isolate the United States and build a coalition of third world nations. Already he is seen as less of an ogre and more of a defender of Islamic honor across the Arab world.

….”Saddam won’t win,” said Richard C. Holbrooke, the former United States representative at the United Nations. “Unlike L.B.J. in Vietnam, Bush won’t quit. He’s a different kind of Texan. He’ll escalate and keep escalating. In the end his military strategy will probably succeed in destroying Saddam.”: –: R. W. Apple: on March 29, 2003.

-: “The chilling realization is spreading in Washington that Bush’s Iraqi debacle may be the mother of all presidential miscalculations ‘ an extraordinary blend of Bay of Pigs-style wishful thinking with a ‘Black Hawk Down’ reliance on special operations to wipe out enemy leaders as a short-cut to victory. But the magnitude of the Iraq disaster could be far worse than either the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba in 1961 or the bloody miscalculations in Somalia in 1993.”: –Robert Parry: on March 30, 2003.

-: “Clearly, the American war planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces…And I personally do not understand how that happened, because I’ve been here many times and in my commentaries on television I would tell the Americans about the determination of the Iraqi forces, the determination of the government, and the willingness to fight for their country. But me, and others who felt the same way were not listened to by the Bush administration…That is why now America is re-appraising the battlefield, delaying the war, maybe a week, and re-writing the war plan. The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance now they are trying to write another war plan.”: –: Peter Arnett: in an interview with Iraqi TV on March 30, 2003.

-: “Brought aboard to expound on his latest article in the New Yorker about how Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly rejected war plans and asked that war planners reduce the number of troops to be used, a charge denied by Rumsfeld, Hersh insisted: ‘It’s never too early to start hearing words like, ‘we’re, you know, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.’…some of us from the Vietnam War’ see ‘a tremendous discrepancy between what the four-star generals and the high officials in this government.’…Citing that ‘huge disconnect’ Hersh maintained that for those who ‘went through the Vietnam War it’s sort of terrifying to think it’s starting already.”: –: Seymour Hersh: on March 31, 2003.

-: “Is it just me or is there a smell of Vietnam in the desert air? Once again, in its haste to get its war on, the U.S. has gone into a foreign land, ignorant of its culture, believing that its technological might would lead to a swift victory, forgetting the force of nationalism when a people believe themselves to be invaded,

And the U.S. generals and politicians in charge pretend that all is going swimmingly and that the war will be over just as soon as the “coalition” forces get into downtown Baghdad and punish the enemy Big Time.

Does any of this sound familiar? How do you spell Q-U-A-G-M-I-R-E?”: –: Bernard Weiner: on April 1, 2003.

-: “The first war plan has failed,” veteran war correspondent Peter Arnett told Iraqi television. NBC fired Arnett shortly thereafter, calling his statement “inappropriate and arguably unpatriotic.” Of course, Arnett lost his job for speaking the obvious truth–but such is life in the emperor’s new war.

…Regardless of their political affiliations, patriotic Iraqis prefer to bear the yoke of Saddam’s brutal and corrupt dictatorship than to suffer the humiliation of living in a conquered nation, subjugated by Allied military governors and ruled by a Hamid Karzai-style puppet whose strings stretch across the Atlantic. As much as they may loathe Saddam, they’re proud of their country, culture and rich history. The thought of infidel troops marching through their cities, past their mosques, patting them down, ordering them around, disgusts them even more than Saddam’s torture chambers.”: –: Ted Rall: on April 1, 2003.

-: “During the Vietnam War, there was a morose song that claimed that Lyndon Johnson had mired the United States in the ”Big Muddy,” a dark swamp from which there was no escape. Because the U.S. military never seems to learn from its mistakes, it would appear that we are once again deep in the Big Muddy.”: –Andrew Greeley: on April 4, 2003.

-: “Already officers in the Gulf are comparing Rumsfeld to Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense and architect of Vietnam who sent his soldiers into battle when he knew nothing of the Vietnamese.

In past weeks I have been worrying about going to war in Iraq too soon without sufficient international support and worrying about the really dangerous postwar plans of the radical neo-conservatives who seem to be so influential in this administration. But I confess I never worried about the competence of Rumsfeld and Co. to run a war. I do now.”: –: H.D.S. Greenway: in an editorial called, “Vietnam’s lessons forgotten in Iraq” on April 4, 2003.

-: “(T)he fact of the matter is that the United States has got itself in a terrible bind here without regional allies’ and suggested that ‘without UN legitimacy — forget it, never work, Vietnam quagmire next stop.”: –: Arthur Kent: on April 5, 2003

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