Anthony Zinni, President Bush’s former Middle East peace envoy said that he resigned from this posiition a month ago in part because he mentally weaseled out of the party line by believing that
“[t]his is in fact the wrong war at the wrong time.”
His assessment is shared by – if I am counting correctly – most people with expert knowledge of the region. But in the end, no one knows what the consequences of this war will be in the long, medium, and even in the short run. No one even knows what is *really* going on right now down there [except those with a spy-satellite of their own…] Both sides are trying to instrumentalise the media machine for their respective propaganda (did you notice how the Iraqi on screen design changed from white sheets and a flag to a nice blue global map after the US centcom presented its Star-Wars-bridge-like briefing room?) – they report, and we decide which side is to believe less for the moment.
But quite indenpently of the question whether the battle for Bagdad will be as swift as all recent conquests of Paris (thank God for German general Choltitz, who did not carry out Hitler’s order to burn down the city in back in August 1944) or whether coalition forces will be dragged into a bloody street fight like in Berlin or Mogadishu, I think Zinni is right to assume that things could have been a lot worse if it weren’t for the professionalism of the leading coalition forces.
However, I wonder if they will be able to uphold the rather positive record when it comes to institution building and/or simply running Iraq. I am afraid even the most skilled military conquerors are still going to fail to win a lasting peace. I am afraid that their core competence is not public administration. And most of all I am afraid that there is a lot of potential to politically screw it all.
As always, I’m hoping for the best. But I am expecting the worst.