Thursday, February 18, 2016

Karl Rove is wrong about Donald Trump 2003 view on Iraq

Rove uses his regular Thursday slot in the Wall Street Journal to tackle Trump's repeated statements that he was against the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Here's part of Rove's argument --

Then on March 25, 2003, in an interview after the Oscars, he called the war “a mess” and said: “If they keep fighting it the way they did today, they’re going to have a real problem.” The key to understanding his statement is the phrase “the way they did today.” Mr. Trump had clearly heard about that day’s bloody, confused fighting in the battle for Nasiriyah, which ended a few days later with a complete U.S. victory.

Now here's a description of people actually involved in the battle of Nasiriyah --

The Iraqi fighters consisted of the notorious Saddam Fedayeen, Al Quds, and Republican Guard Special Forces, as well as Iraqi regular army soldiers. An assault amphibious vehicle (AAV) company reinforced the battalion, thus every rifle company was mechanized. A reserve tank company also augmented the force and was utilized in the team mech and team tank task organization. The battalion was essentially road bound due to the consistently unreliable off-road terrain in the region. The first enemy fires were indicative of what was to come. Most of the enemy fighters were wearing civilian attire. They were employing mortars and machineguns from the roofs of mud huts in close proximity to civilians.

The battle did indeed end in a victory for US forces (and also uncorked the now long-forgotten Jessica Lynch frenzy) but look again the description of the Iraqi side: an ad hoc coalition of various regime elements, in civilian clothes and settings, and using mortars and guns rather than mechanised forces. In other words, a summary of what the US would be up against for the subsequent 5 years in Iraq.

Trump was right. Although Saddam's conventional defences would soon collapse, the irregular forces found techniques that made "the way they did today" ineffective and extraordinarily costly to the US.

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