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Jewish World Review March 26, 2003 / 22 Adar II, 5763

Michael Ledeen

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All Fronts: Military war, political war, psychological war | In a Fox News interview on Sunday from northern Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress - the umbrella organization of the Iraqi democratic opposition - quietly suggested that it might be easier to induce the surrender of Iraqi soldiers if they were approached by Iraqi opposition leaders rather than by American military officers. He mentioned in passing that his soldiers had been ordered to await the arrival of Allied liaison officers.

One must regret that such officers had not been with the INC since the onset of hostilities - no doubt Turkey's outrageous refusal of cooperation for weeks on end made it harder for our military personnel to access northern Iraq - and their absence will undoubtedly raise INC suspicions that at least some of our planners had intended to leave the Iraqi opposition on the sidelines, especially since we have not made provisions for them to broadcast.

While we used psychological operations to urge Iraqis to surrender without a fight, we nonetheless made the liberation of Iraq a primarily military operation, failing to adopt an aggressive political campaign that would have clearly demonstrated our determination to liberate the country and assist the creation of a free country. Just a few weeks ago, the administration had to go to great lengths to deny stories about plans for an extended Allied military occupation of Iraq, and to gainsay some of the unfortunate statements along these lines that officials of the National Security Council had delivered to the Iraqi opposition.

Whether or not we actually had such intentions (I doubt it), the unfortunate statements by administration officials inevitably seemed credible to opposition leaders because both the State Department and the CIA treated the INC with contempt for more than a decade. We would have been wiser to demonstrate our real plans for a new, democratic Iraq, by creating one long before the onset of hostilities. The northern and southern "no fly" zones were under our effective control for years. We should have declared Saddam Hussein an illegitimate ruler, recognized a legitimate government in the two regions, and invited Iraqis to flee Saddam's despotism to live freely under a normal and democratic government. The existence of a "free Iraq" would have shown the citizens of the country, whether military or civilian, the true nature of this war in a way no propaganda offensive could possibly achieve. Had we done so, and had we defended free Iraq from Saddam's depredations, we would be far less likely to be facing the fierce battles in the southern "no fly" zone today.

Moreover, the advance of a democratic revolution, protected but not imposed by military force, would have created a model for the war against terrorism, of which the Iraqi campaign is a major battle, but only that. Our commitment to freedom will be essential in enlisting the enthusiastic support of the peoples of Syria and Iran, whose governments are enabling the infiltration of jihadist terrorists into Iraq. In Iraq and beyond, we should realize that our most lethal weapon against the terror masters is the will of the people to be free of their tyrants. In a country like Iran, there have been many massive popular demonstrations against the regime in the name of democracy, and we should be actively supporting it (and we'd be a lot more credible throughout the region if we had supported the anti-Saddam uprisings in 1991 instead of abandoning the Kurds and Shiites to their terrible fate).

The war against terror need not be primarily military. There is a much greater probability that our troops will be received as liberators rather than invaders if we "prepare the battlefield" with concrete demonstrations of the kind of free society the peoples of the region can expect once we have won. That way, we will be able to support pro-democracy forces now suffering under oppressive regimes, as we did in Yugoslavia, the Philippines, and the Soviet satellites, all of which were liberated without military invasion.

Chalabi is right. The Iraqi people and their rulers should hear the voice of the free Iraq that is their future, and they should be given the opportunity to join it with a minimum of warfare.

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.


03/24/03: More Bad News for Daschle: Taking out terror of all nationalities
03/21/03: The Killer Pneu: Virus terror from China
03/13/03: Iran: Nuclear suicide bombers?
03/11/03: A Theory: What if there's method to the Franco-German madness?
03/05/03: The Iranian-Election Revolt: The people speak. The West won't listen
02/19/03: The willful blindness of those who will not see
02/12/03: The Europeans Know More Than They Now Pretend? They choose to dawdle and obstruct
02/03/03: Monumental failure: Nelson Mandela had promise
01/30/03: Elevation: The president knows what it's all about
01/29/03: No Leader: France's Chirac is all about personal interest
01/28/03: The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later
01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen