Superpower Undone By Small War

The war in Iraq that started in 2003 has now lasted longer than the First World War. Militarily, the conflicts could not be more different. The scale of the fighting in Iraq is far below anything seen in 1914-18, but the political significance of the Iraq war has been enormous. America blithely invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein to show its great political and military strength. Instead it demonstrated its weakness. The vastly expensive U.S. war machine failed to defeat a limited number of Sunni Arab guerrillas. International leaders such as Tony Blair who confidently allied themselves to Washington at the start of the war, convinced that they were betting on a winner, are either discredited or out of power.

At times, President Bush seemed intent on finding out how much damage could be done to the U.S. by the conflict in Iraq. He did so by believing a high proportion of his own propaganda about the resistance to the occupation being limited in scale and inspired from outside the country. By 2007, the administration was even claiming that the fervently anti-Iranian Sunni insurgents were being equipped by Iran. It was a repeat performance of U.S, assertions four years earlier that Saddam Hussein was backing al-Qaeda. In this fantasy world, constructed to impress American voters, in which failures were sold as successes, it was impossible to devise sensible policies.

Patrick Cockburn

Middle East correspondent for The Independent, Patrick Cockburn was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting. His book, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction.

Read Cockburn's Superpower Undone By Small War at Tom Paine.


cato said...

The Iraq war was a resounding success, actually, if you think about it. With minimal casualties, we destroyed a government. Since all countries in this world have governments in some form or another -- this scares them. Sure, we can't put down resistance but that's because we lack the willpower to nuke people. We should have pulled out when the Mission was Accomplished.

This is quite different from say, Vietnam. We didn't destroy what the original enemy was in that conflict. We left, again for the same reason we're going to leave Iraq. We lack the will to do what MUST be done in wars. Those who think a kind word about our enemies are our enemies and they must be killed to a man if you are to actually win. But we won't do that, and we end up wasting our blood and treasure on the ridiculous Willsonian notion of "nation building" to "make the world safe for democracy" and such nonsense.

666 said...


So you don't think making the world safe for democracy is a legimate reason to go to war in Iraq. Why would we nuke the Iraqis? I thought it was the evil dictator that we were trying to get rid of? It would seem to be bad form in the eyes of the world community to nuke Iraq to install democracy.

Or is your point along the line that, if you are going in there, you give them everything you got and deal with the consequences that remain after the smoke clears, the dust settles and the corpses decompose.

That doesn't some very libertarian to me. I would think a libertarian would say fuck the terrorists in the Middle East. Until you start seeing the white of the turbines charging up the shores of our great nation, let's not waste our time on them. But then you said elsewhere that the business of business is business. So why would our government waste our teasure and the lives of our soldiers on keeping the supply of oil open for private industry to reap record profits? Seems that Exxon, etc. should be the ones fighting for their supply of oil.

Andy Rand said...


We destroyed a government and installed Anarchy. And Iraqis are so much better for it, since it was the government that "governed" them that we destroyed. Right! along with the country's infrastructure.

I don't ever recall ANYBODY in the military or this lame ass administration saying that the Iraqi's were our enemy. The
Terrorists are supposedly our enemy and they aren't defined by geographical boundries. So your idiotic idea of Nuking our enemy would be aimed at whom? every country with a terrorist?
You know CATO, for someone as bright as yourself you say really stupid things... I think just to get a rise out of people because of the outrageousness of what you say. Well it worked on me. Happy?