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  • Rat Hunt

    Posted by Lexington Green on July 22nd, 2003 (All posts by )

    Everyone throughout the wide realms of Blogistan will have their opinions about the killing by our troops of Uday and Qusay.

    I am elated. This is good news for America, Iraq and the world. One of the secretaries at my office told me about it. She’s the only other hawk I know of there. She has a niece in Iraq.

    This sends a powerful message to the whole world in a language Neanderthal man would have understood. These guys took on the USA and its allies, and now they are dead. That will help quell further bad behavior from any number of sources. Plus, its plain justice that these mass murderers have been killed. Anyway, they were participating as commanders in an ongoing war against the USA, so they were military targets. Another factor is the ongoing fear in Iraq that the regime will return, that the US and the other Coalition countries will just cut and run. Hunting down and killing Uday and Qusay sends a message to the Iraqi people that the victorious powers are serious about tearing out the former regime root and branch. That will help create confidence and cooperation among the Iraqi people. All in all this 100% good news.

    I will add that this is further evidence that (as I said here and here) the news media are liars by omission, and that the United States and its allies are winning this part of the war — the rat hunt, the roundup of Saddam’s cronies, dead-enders, and foreign trouble-makers.

    Strategy Page has a good summary What Is Really Happening In Iraq?.

    A lot of the “combat” is now taking place in the shadows. Special Forces, Delta Force and SEALs are doing what they’ve been doing since before the war began; sorting out the Iraqi underground. This mlange of criminals, Saddam’s secret police and various Baath Party big shots (including Saddam and his sons) terrorized and plundered Iraq and are trying to get back to the good old days now that the war’s over. … Special Forces and military intelligence troops have been creating a growing network of informers and anti-Saddam Iraqis. … SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has more Civil Affairs troops than it does Special Forces. And that’s no accident. Special Forces has been practicing, for over half a century, to deal with what is happening in Iraq today.

    So much for the quagmire. (This item: How to interrogate Iraqis, also provides some good insights.)

    Now, get that last ace. Get Saddam.

    Update: den Beste weighs in.

    Update II: Phil Carter notes that this may or may not lead to any decrease in the guerilla activity. Hmmm. OK, but it cannot possibly hurt that our people killed these two dirtbags. No. It is a win. How big a win is yet to be determined. (via Instapundit).

    Update III: Steven Green at Vodkapundit has an excellent post (also via Instapundit). He takes on two topics I have been mulling but have not had the time, discipline or willpower to research and post: (1) the long “trailing edge” of sporadic violence that follows most wars, and (2) the uselessness of any comparison between Iraq and Vietnam. On (1) In addition to the post-WWII cases he cites, I’d also note that there was a long period of irregular warfare after the Franco-Prussian war, after Napoleon III’s regime had been sh*tcanned, including a siege of Paris. There was a lot of mob and irregular violence following the American Civil War, by the Klan and by others. After Napoleon lost finally at Waterloo, his army disintegrated into bands of brigands who raised Hell for a long time. In other words, this is all pretty normal post-war activity. Wars don’t end neatly. On (2) he notes that there were a few successful communist guerilla campaigns, backed by the USSR, but “The difference to our country is: Russia was too smart to strike New York, and the Islamists weren’t.” One thing I’d add to his list of factors differentiating Iraq from Vietnam is the fact that the Vietnamese communists had become battle-hardened experts in guerilla war by the time we got involved. There is no comparison between the skill, courage and determination of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese regular troops and the human detritus which is still running around in Iraq. There is no Giap or Ho Chi Minh among their leaders, either, count on it. The Americans and their coalition allies and the forces they will construct in Iraq are going to impose peace on Iraq, within months, not years. Another difference is that there is no way any of the neighboring countries will allow themselves to be major bases for guerilla activity, such as the Vietnamese communists were able to employ. There will be no equivalent of Cambodia, with enormous bases and arms caches which the US will choose not to attack out of some psychotic devotion to formal legalism. If Syria or Iran were stupid enough to try that crap, the US would attack them and make them pay a heavy price, and they know it.

    The United States is a powerful, wealthy, successful country. That means, human nature being what it is, and original sin being what it is, that most people looking at us will hate us for these things. Sad, maybe, but inevitable. Under Clinton we were hated, but despised as weak. Now under Bush we are hated, but also feared. Hated and feared is better for the safety of Americans and the peace of the world. It would be nice to be respected, but we can live without it, as long as we are feared.

     

    22 Responses to “Rat Hunt”

    1. Porphyrogenitus Says:

      The one thing I’m starting to wonder, given the guys who they bagged together, is if Saddam is alive or not after all.

      I mean, I think he’s probably still alive; 80%. But the fact that these guys were together in one place but Saddam wasn’t among them makes me wonder for the first time in awhile.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      This is very good, both because we nailed the sons of bitches and because they were still in Iraq. The fact of their continued presence confirms that they had nowhere to run: Iran was hostile, Syria didn’t want to risk it, and we are everywhere else. Their father, if he’s alive, faces similar constraints, which means we’ll probably get him.

      Oh, and Den Beste is right about photos of the bodies. We should distribute them in Iraq to remove all doubt 1) that they’re really dead and 2) that we’re serious.

    3. Tim Says:

      Yes, by all means, the photos of the bodies need to be distributed in Iraq…and at the Syrian, Iranian, Saudi Arabian, No. Korean and French offices in the U.N. as well. Their deterrence value alone will more than compensate for the diplomatic outrage.

    4. Lex Says:

      As long as photos of the bodies get onto Al Jazeera, that’s all I care about.

    5. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Good stuff. Except for Strategy Page’s speculations. I must be blunt and go off on a rant to say I am getting increasingly tired of the Special-Forces-are-doing-this blather. “We don’t know anything about it because we’re not meant to know” is always part of it, as if the lack of any data point meant things were going well. Nobody has a clue what the special forces are or aren’t doing, or how well/badly they are operating. Or how many informants they have. Nobody does. I don’t, you don’t, neither does CNN nor Strategy Page. And at this level of special warfare, Iraq just can’t be compared with Afghanistan, anymore than Iraq can be compared to Vietnam.

      Me thinks we should stick to known facts and not get excited over entirely uninformed speculative ramblings. There are enough known events to be positive about – like the death of these two scumbags – without having to reach for empty speculation.

      When GIs are being shot at random every other day, all this nonsense about “yeah but our Green Berets are making them squirm in the darkness of the night”, based on nothing but wet dreams, looks like the kind of collective denial the Internet is so good at sustaining.

      Let’s keep it real. For the unreal, we have the New York Times, Jayson Blair and all that. They’re pros in that department, we just can’t compete with them. And that’s fine by me.

    6. shell Says:

      It has to mean a decrease in resistance. Who is going to be able to step into the power vacuum and immediately have control of the money and weapons? More importantly, who would actually be able to do it and be obeyed? The resistance will fragment. Several “leaders” may try to seize the reins, but I predict most of the Baathists will hoard whatever weapons they have access to for their own defense and either go into hiding or try to blend into the civilian population.

    7. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Shell, we don’t know what this resistance is about. Whether the deaths of this two is significant remains to be seen. We still do not have answers to the three basic questions : who are they i.e. who are the fighters, who leads them and pays them ?

      Second, do they have popular support ? There is conflicting info there. In pro-Saddam Sunni areas, there seems to be, but that’s bound to fail over time. Pro-Saddam supporters are unlikely to get much popular support, specially in the Shiite south.

      Finally, the third element for any true resistance movement is external support. For funding, supplies, recruiting/training etc. I doubt Iran or Syria would support such endeavours with 160,000 US Army troops within driving distance, now that Bush has shown what he’s capable of. At least not at the government level. It’s also unlikely Iran would support Baathists; and if the Syrian did, you can bet Iran would send in troublemakers to counter them.

      In other words, we don’t know anything about it. All we hear is media speculation on why they fight based on assumptions about alleged tapes and the like.

      There is both more and less here than meets the eye. We’ll have to be patient.

    8. Peter Says:

      Sylvain, I’m a veteran of a war. I don’t need to know what the Special Operations Troops are doing to know what they’re doing. To know what someone will do all you have to know is what they did before. I’ve seen the Sneaky Petes in action, I know how they operate.
      I have no ‘need to know’ the details, nor have I any current contacts with the military. I don’t need that to know that the Sneaky Petes are prowlin’ an’ growlin, it’s what they DO.
      A significant percentage of the attacks on our troops are coming from Iraqis, they’re coming from the Hezbollah types from Lebanon and Syria. Wouldn’t surprise me to findthat Al Q and Hamas are involved but I KNOW that the Hezbollah types are involved. We have no way of knowing how many have been caught trying to infiltrate, the Sneaky Petes are, quite correctly, not saying. It’s the ‘where’s Achmed?’ strategy.
      We have, either by accident or design, evolved into the ‘flypaper war’. Jihadis and splodeydopes from all over are sneaking to Iraq for a shot at the Great Satan. Some get through, a significant number don’t. Only by assuming that our commanders are complete idiots can we think that there isn’t a pretty good belt of recon and ambushes. I suspect that, ten years from now, unmarked graves will be popping up all through the desert areas between the Syrian border and the Sunni Triangle of Iraq, the graves of the Jihadi who didn’t make it all the way.

    9. Trent Telenko Says:

      The road side bombs that have killed half our troop casualties in Iraq for the last week are a signature tactic of Hezbollah.

    10. Bobby Otter Says:

      Does killing these two (Uday and Qusay) help us find bin Laden? Does it help us in finding these weapons of mass destruction? Does it help us in finding these nuclear weapons? Does it make America safer?

      Meanwhile two more American soldiers are killed.

      Let’s not lose sight of our ‘goals’ here.

      PS
      Personally I would have rather to have captured the two murders.

    11. Daniel in Medford Says:

      I can’t claim to know everything about this. But I did hear yesterday that the villa, in which Qusay and Uday were found, was taken after a four-hour firefight, and that the villa was burned down in the process.

      My conclusion from that is that Q and U had decided not to be captured. They knew they were going down, and they wanted to take as many Americans as possible with them. (I repeat, this is but speculation on my part; but it makes sense to me.)

      So capturing them alive was probably not an option. From a military standpoint, there is NO way to capture someone who absolutely refuses to be captured (and who prefers suicide to capture). I would also guess that the soldiers who cornered Q and U had specific orders — capture alive if possible, but don’t sustain any unnecessary casualties. (Again, I don’t know this as a fact… but it’s consistent with orders given under such circumstances, and it’s consistent with the results.) The information I saw said that there had been American wounded, but no deaths, in this particular operation.

      (Another corroborating detail is the simple fact that it took four hours. Had US troops simply wanted them dead, they would have taken photos, positively identifying that Q and U were inside the building… and then they would have destroyed the building. Total time, ten minutes. That was clearly not their intention.)

      In re Bobby Otter’s comments: Does this help us find Bin Laden? No. Does it help us find WMD? Probably not. Does it help protect the baby seals and the spotted owl? No, not that either. Does that mean it is totally without merit? No, actually, there’s quite a bit of merit here.

      As many have pointed out, here and elsewhere, Q and U were hated and feared, key elements of Saddam’s regime. Even were Saddam known to be dead (which he is not), I suspect many Iraqis would live in fear if they knew Qusay were alive. There are multiple benefits to this, both to Americans (mostly to those actually risking their lives in Iraq, but hey, they’re Americans too) and to Iraqis.

      (Incidentally, the firefight also leads me to speculate about their involvement in the ‘resistance’. If they were merely running and keeping their heads down, would they have made their last stand in a fortified house with plenty of firepower? Both their preparedness, and their insisting on fighting it out the hard way, strongly implies to me that they WERE leaders, in some capacity, of the Baathist anti-American irregulars. Just thought I’d mention it.)

      Daniel in Medford

    12. John J. Coupal Says:

      Yeah, being despised and feared is good. Flypaper sucks the critters in.

      Being despised and considered weak – ala 1992 to 2000 – just doesn’t cut it. Just a recipe for national capitulation. America’s not into that now.

    13. Anonymous Says:

      I don’t mind having them killed, to be honest. Better than hearing the usual fools ask for a “proper trial” of these two mass murderers for weeks on end.

      Again, I think we need to keep track of the three simple questions here: who is attacking the US troops ? Who leads and pays them ? Do they have popular support ? Do they have external support ?

      To the extent most of the trouble is occurring in formerly pro-Saddam area, we can suppose many are the handiwork of former elements of the regime. In this case, yesterday’s news is most excellent. Also, this means the “resistance” will have no support in most of the country. As for external help, Iran will not support Saddamites. Syria might, but if they did, Iran would try and counter them.

      Who the heck knows.

      Pete. I am no veteran, and I know what you’re saying. But for all the excellent Special Forces work in Vietnam, the rest of the operations didn’t go so well and things went very wrong, politically, over time. So the success of those great men is not all there is to it. Specially when 160,000 regular troops are around. Hope you see what I mean here. I don’t mean to do the stupid comparison between Vietnam and Iraq that some make. It’s just that since we don’t know what SOCOM is doing, we can’t just rely on that or assume all will be well in the end simply because they’re out there. It’s not that simple, unfortunately. The road ahead is quite long indeed.

      And I just think there is enough noise out there right now. I don’t care whether it’s good or bad noise. But that’s just me. Maybe.

    14. Ben Wilson Says:

      I suspect if we would have just had Bobby Otter over there he would have been able to reason with the Hussein boys and probably negotiated some non-violent resolution to this conflict.

      At the very least he could have gotten them safe passage out of the country to some other location where they would be safe — such as France.

    15. Bobby Otter Says:

      Well I’d never be in Iraq, that’s for sure Ben. I’d be going after the real enemy, bin Laden.

    16. Peter Says:

      Actually, Mr. Otter, the intel documents one must assume are in the house might well bring us one step closer to those WMD. Further, having two of the three most feared people in Iraq, one of them the head of the Special Republican Guard and the Saddam Fedayeen, suddenly assume room temperature might well loosen the toungues of anybody knowing the whereabouts of said WMDs.
      As for bringing us closer to Bin Laden, the boys of June 6, 1944 brought us no closer to capturing Hirohito. Bin Laden is a problem, we will eventually put paid to him, he’s not the only problem. If the Las Angeles Police were able to smash the Bloods, it would be a good thing, even if the Crips were untouched. Or vice versa. These various groups of Jhadis and splodeydopes may not be all in cahoots, though I suspect they are closer than most know, they do all hate us and our allies. We need to nutralise them all, one way or another.

    17. John Anderson Says:

      Aside from the Otters, who think OBL is the world’s only terrorist, there are two spins I’ve seen so far:

      1. It was an assassination, which is against an Executive Order.
      Nope. In an assassination, one of the keys is that the target is not given any options, even of fighting back – just killed. And an Executive Order? So What? Are people still following Grant’s orders?

      2. It took so long, there must have been a major screwup.
      Oh? How long did OJ drive that white SUV? It took so long because we were trying to take the @$%^’s alive. Talking to (but unfortunately not with) them.

    18. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Bobby, you’re right. Forget about a dictator who murdered 300,000 of his own people, started two wars against his neighbors at a cost of ~1.5m lives, fired ballistic missiles at three foreign countries, violated or ignored 17 UN resolutions, and committed a few other minor misdemeanors like using chemical weapons against his own citizens.

      We only deal with real problems around here.

    19. John J. Coupal Says:

      The Hussein siblings “..suddenly assume room temperature..”. Nice phrasing!

    20. Jonathan Says:

      I think we’ve got them on ice, actually.

    21. Lex Says:

      Ice? Actually, the heads are being sent to W packed in dry ice like Omaha Steaks. He’s gonna have them cleaned and the skulls nailed up to the fence posts on his ranch. This may be offensive to Islamic custom, but, hey, tough shit.

    22. Jonathan Says:

      Is mass murder offensive to Islamic custom? Is dragging the bodies of U.S. soldiers through Mogadishu offensive to Islamic custom? The journalists who dig up hostile man-in-the-Arab-street interviews when we do something don’t usually ask these questions. I am sure that if we hadn’t shown the bodies our opponents would have said the brothers weren’t dead. And I am sure that we would have been criticized for insensitivity had we continued to display the bodies un-prettied, or had we hung them up publicly or otherwise abused them. Our critics are consistent in one thing only — complaining about the U.S. no matter what we do.