Eight days into the war, 27 Americans had died in combat, some from friendly fire. Yet, already, journalists were talking about America being caught in a quagmire like Vietnam. We pay a price for not teaching history to our children.
In Vietnam, we averaged 150 dead a week for seven years. In World War II, we lost 200 men every day for four years. In the Civil War, 400 Americans a day, Union and Confederate, died from the fall of Ft. Sumter to Appomattox.
Every battle death is a tragedy and a loss. But America is winning this war. Only if you predicted a "cakewalk" is this a quagmire.
Gen. Tommy Franks war plan is straight out of Clausewitz and MacArthur. In war, said Clausewitz, strike hard at the enemy's center of gravity, be it king, army or capital.
In Iraq, all three are in Baghdad, and Franks sent his Marines and 7th Cav up the Baghdad road on day one. The MacArthur element is the "island-hopping" strategy the general conducted in the Pacific. Rather than send thousands of Marines to their deaths assaulting Japanese strongholds like Rabaul, MacArthur bypassed them, cut them off from resupply by air and sea, and moved on.
Franks bypassed Basra, Iraq's second city, to head straight for Baghdad. At this writing, U.S. forces are building up 50 miles south of the city for the final assault on the capital.
But that does not mean the surrender of Baghdad is but hours away. Because of the halving of U.S. armed forces since Desert Storm, Tommy Franks has half the number of troops to drive Saddam out of Iraq as Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf did to drive him out of Kuwait.
Yet, the great question left is not whether Baghdad falls, but when. For Tony Blair and George Bush must take the city. There is no substitute for victory. The coalition must drive Saddam out.
How soon this happens, however, is critical. For this war is not only being fought on a military front, where Saddam cannot win. It is being fought in the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of Islamic and European peoples, many of who violently oppose what they see as U.S. imperialism. Every day that the Iraqi regime and Revolutionary Guard are not broken is a victory for Saddam.
Each day Iraq refuses to surrender -- each day that goes by with Iraqi soldiers standing, fighting and dying -- is a victory for Saddam.
What is Saddam's end game? He knows that Iraq, impotent against U.S. missiles and bombs, with ancient artillery and tanks that cannot fire as far or accurately as U.S. artillery and tanks, cannot defeat a superpower 15 times as populous, with an economy 170 times as large. Eventual defeat and probable death appear certain, and soon.