By Jim Simpson
In 2003, I wrote an article titled "Regime Change Means Eradicating the Ba'ath Party." In it I argued that the brutal, many-tentacled secret police apparatus of the Iraqi Ba'athist party would make long-term victory in Iraq very difficult. The ONLY option for creating a viable, peaceful Iraqi future lay in untangling that infrastructure and eliminating the vast network of vicious, corrupt Ba'athist apparatchiks and their informants.
I must give credit where credit is due here, and interject that there has been one prominent analyst, alone in the US foreign policy establishment, who has been bravely articulating the dangers posed by Saddam and his Ba'athists for years and that is Laurie Mylroie. Her studies of Saddam and his monstrous regime are more authoritative, by magnitudes than anyone else out there that I am aware of, and formed the basis for the Bush administration's original decision to invade Iraq. She has continued to raise the alarm about the mistake we make in misidentifying the enemy in Iraq. It is the Ba'athists.
Anyway, the first Coalition Provisional Authority chief, Paul Bremer, was widely criticized for being too tough on former-Ba'athists and has implicitly been blamed for the insurgency that supposedly arose when frustrated Ba'thists couldn't get their jobs back. But now Ali A. Allawi, an Iraqi insider long familiar with Saddam and his hideous Party, argues in a new book, The Occupation of Iraq, Winning the War and Losing the Peace, that Bremer's mistake was in not going far enough. As described in a Washington Post review:
In all of the back-and-forth, nobody of any stature has suggested that Bremer's approach toward the Baathists was too soft. But now, in a compelling, detailed history of the occupation, Iraq's first postwar civilian defense minister makes just that argument. In the first major account from an Iraqi insider, Ali A. Allawi contends in The Occupation of Iraq that one of Washington's principal mistakes was that Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority did not go far enough in dismantling the Baathist structure of Iraq's bureaucracy.
As you might imagine, I adamantly agree. Furthermore, I will add that Iraq is the final acid test for us. We have faced this kind of situation before. We failed to bring victory in Vietnam and Korea because of our unwillingness to fully appreciate the relentless, vicious nature of our enemy and his tactics. We are failing in the defense of Israel and Lebanon for the same reason. If, at this late date we cannot learn to confront and defeat this enemy and his methods, then it is only a matter of time before this same monstrosity is visited upon our shores.