' Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
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Jewish World Review April 1, 2003 / 28 Adar II, 5763

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

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http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It has been clear for many months that the wild card in any campaign to liberate Iraq would be not the quality of American military might or the malevolence of Saddam Hussein's resistance. Rather, it would be the role played by the Iraqi people in helping to free themselves from one of the world's most despotic tyrants.

In the course of the past fortnight, the awesome application of the power of U.S. armed forces has been on display minute-by-minute, thanks in no small measure to the basically real-time reporting of correspondents "embedded" with various combat units. These reporters have also served greatly to amplify the ruthlessness and brutality with which the Iraqi regime is clinging to power -- notably, by forcing civilians at gunpoint to attack coalition troops, executing its own personnel for wanting not to fight and inviting "collateral damage" on non-military populations by collocating weapons with hospitals, mosques, schools, etc.

What has been inexplicable thus far, however, is why a vastly more robust effort has not been made to date to secure the active support of the Iraqi people? As things stand now, they appear, by most accounts, to be uncertain of the true purpose of American and allied troops in their country. Iraqi propaganda and other Arab media warn of Western imperialism and "Crusader" threats to the Muslim faith. The amazingly few instances in which civilians have been harmed under circumstances attributed by the regime to coalition forces (whether rightly, due to an accident, or deceitfully) has unhelpfully given resonance to nationalist appeals to support Saddam.

The people of Iraq are also terrified by the continuing predations of Saddam's Fedayeen and other enforcers, which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has properly called "death squads." They remember only too well the harsh reprisals against those who dared to respond to President George H.W. Bush's 1991 call to rise up against the regime. The various videotaped images of Saddam and his cohort broadcast from time to time may seem stilted and inauthentic to our eyes but they are seen by conditioned Iraqis as paralyzing evidence that he remains in control and a threat.

As a result of these factors, the Iraqi people have yet to play any significant role in their liberation. Should they continue to do so, estimates of a protracted and bloody fight are much more likely to prove correct. At worst, the United States and its allies could find themselves fighting a regime that manages to secure a measure of popular support to which it is certainly not entitled and that would be exceedingly detrimental to the goal of regime change.

What is to be done to correct this unsatisfactory, and potentially disastrous, state of affairs? The answer: "Embed" Free Iraqis. This would, of course, mean more than simply having Iraqis who support Operation Iraqi Freedom along for the ride, like the journalists. While that would be desirable in and of itself (for example, tangibly demonstrating Iraqi support for our troops' efforts and facilitating translations in the latters' interactions with local populations), there are myriad other ways in which Free Iraqis' help could be instrumental to the "hearts and minds" dimension of this conflict.

Opportunities should be afforded to U.S.-trained Iraqi freedom fighters to participate in operations in the southern and central parts of the country, just as the Kurds are now being given roles to play in liberating the North. Having Free Iraqis at checkpoints could help with the challenging task of defending against Saddam-loyalists masquerading as civilians, without harming bona fide non-combattants. Using such allies to penetrate enemy-held cities and positions could greatly facilitate their seizure with minimum loss of life and destruction on both sides.

Particularly needed are the voices and faces of Free Iraq on the media most Iraqis can receive. As a prominent Iraqi exile, Professor Kanan Makiya, observed in the Washington Post on Sunday: "Eliminating [Saddam's] image is not enough. An alternative image must be projected -- and by Iraqis, not Americans." Broadcasting the message of hope and liberation from within Iraq is essential to winning not only the confidence and active assistance of the Iraqi people. It could be of incalculable importance in dissipating sympathy for Saddam elsewhere in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Needless to say, Free Iraqis need to be fully "embedded," as well, in the development and constituting of a transitional authority capable of governing Iraq once its liberation is secured. While some work toward this end has been undertaken, largely at the initiative of the Iraqi National Congress and opposition groups working with it, more -- much more -- needs to be done to establish an effective interim Iraqi alternative to the present, odious regime.

Unfortunately, these ideas, so central to empowering anti-Saddam Iraqis and securing the assistance of millions of their like-minded countrymen, remain anathema to the U.S. State Department and CIA. As a result, far less has been done to prepare to meet today's urgent need for an organized, disciplined and reliable Free Iraqi component to serve as an integral part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. There is no more time to waste. Many lives, Iraqi and American, are at stake, as may even be the ultimate success of the mission.

"Embed" Free Iraqis now!

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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


03/05/03: A friend in need
02/25/03: The plot thickens
02/18/03: Who's 'with' President Bush?
02/11/03: Islamists' White House gatekeeper
02/04/03: The Powell report
01/28/03: Bush's finest hour
01/14/03: North Korean scorecard
01/07/03: Nuclear meltdown
12/17/02: Serious about defending America
12/03/02: Defining 'regime change'
11/26/02: With friends like the Saudis...
11/19/02: The Jayna Davis files
11/12/02: Could Israel die of thirst?
11/04/02: Against us
10/22/02: Too clever by half?
10/17/02: 'Drain the swamps'
10/08/02: The temptations of George Bush
10/01/02: Return of the San Francisco Dems
09/24/02: The next crusader?
09/17/02: It is no accident that advocates of coercive inspections have opposed prez's goal of regime change
09/10/02: A model for Iraq
08/27/02: Beware 'consensus leadership'
08/20/02: To Iraq or not to Iraq?
08/13/02: Trading with the 'enemy'
07/30/02: Who's trashing Ashcroft?
07/23/02: Wall Street's 'poisoned apples'
07/16/02: Back on the China front
07/09/02: See no evil?
07/02/02: Rethinking peacekeeping
06/25/02: Political moment of truth on defense
06/19/02: Inviting losses on two fronts
06/12/02: Make missile defense happen
06/04/02: The next 'Day of Infamy'?
05/29/02: Bush's Russian gamble
05/21/02: The 'next war'
05/15/02: Ex-presidential misconduct
05/07/02: When 'what if' is no game
05/02/02: Careful what we wish for
04/24/02: The real 'root cause' of terror
04/02/02: First principles in the Mideast
03/26/02: 'Renounce this map'
03/20/02: The inconvenient ally
03/12/02: Adults address the 'unthinkable'
03/05/02: The Saudi scam
02/26/02: Rumsfeld's 'now hear this'
02/19/02: Where's the outrage?
02/12/02: Post-mortem on 'Pearl Harbor II'
02/05/02: Spinning on the 'Evil Axis'
01/29/02: A challenge for the history books
01/22/02: Who pulled the plug on the Chinese 'bugs'?
01/15/02: No 'need to know'
01/08/02: Sentenced to de-nuclearize?
12/18/01: Missile defense mismanagement?
12/11/01: Is the Cold War 'over'?
12/04/01: A moment for truth
11/29/01: Send in the marines -- with the planes they need
11/27/01: 'Now Hear This': Does the President Mean What He Says?
11/20/01: Mideast 'vision thing'
11/13/01: The leitmotif of the next three days
11/06/01: Bush's Reykjavik Moment
10/30/01: Say it ain't true, 'W.
10/23/01: Getting history, and the future, right
10/16/01: Farewell to arms control
10/05/01: A time to choose
09/25/01: Don't drink the 'lemonade'
09/11/01: Sudan envoy an exercise in futility?
09/05/01: Strategy of a thousand cuts
08/28/01: Rummy's back
08/21/01: Prepare for 'two wars'
08/14/01: Why does the Bush Administration make a moral equivalence between terrorist attacks and Israel's restrained defensive responses?
08/07/01: A New bipartisanship in security policy?
07/31/01: Don't go there
07/17/01: The 'end of the beginning'
07/10/01: Testing President Bush
07/03/01: Market transparency works
06/27/01: Which Bush will it be on missile defense?
06/19/01: Don't politicize military matters
06/05/01: It's called leadership
06/05/01: With friends like these ...
05/31/01: Which way on missile defense?
05/23/01: Pearl Harbor, all over again
05/15/01: A tale of two Horatios
05/08/01: The real debate about missile defense
04/24/01: Sell aegis ships to Taiwan
04/17/01: The 'hi-tech for China' bill
04/10/01: Deal on China's hostages -- then what?
04/03/01: Defense fire sale redux
03/28/01: The defense we need
03/21/01: Critical mass
03/13/01: The Bush doctrine
03/08/01: Self-Deterred from Defending America
02/27/01: Truth and consequences for Saddam
02/21/01: Defense fire sale
02/13/01: Dubya's Marshall Plan
02/05/01: Doing the right thing on an 'Arab-Arab dispute'
01/30/01: The missile defense decision
01/23/01: The Osprey as Phoenix
01/17/01: Clinton's Parting Shot at Religious Freedom
01/09/01: Wake-up call on space
01/02/01: Secretary Rumsfeld
12/27/00: Redefining our Ukraine policy
12/19/00: Deploy missile defense now
12/12/00: Sabotaging space power
12/05/00: Preempting Bush
11/28/00: What Clinton hath wrought
11/21/00: HE'S BAAAACK
11/14/00: The world won't wait

© 2001, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.