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We "Miscalculated Badly" -- U.K. Defense Analyst

by Sanjay Suri

Iraqi Public Neglects To Cheer U.S. Invasion
(IPS) LONDON -- The U.S. and British governments seem to have made a historic miscalculation in attacking Iraq -- and the bombing of a residential area in Baghdad Wednesday will only make things worse, experts and Iraqi expatriates say.

That there has been a miscalculation is obvious even from official statements acknowledging that no one was expecting this level of resistance. Already, many are beginning to look at the reasons for this miscalculation.

"It was a failure in assessment that was fed by failure of intelligence," Col. Christopher Langton, head of the defense analysis department at the International Institute for Strategic Affairs in London told IPS in an interview Wednesday.

"As a result they not only miscalculated, but miscalculated badly," he said.

And this is even before the approach to Baghdad, Col. Langton said. "First, it is not going to be easy to take Baghdad," he said. "If they manage to enter, they will have to take it street by street, building by building." And it is still not clear what the alliance troops will do if they manage all of that, he said.

None of the indications so far suggest that the invading forces will be seen as liberators, Col. Langton said.

The hard opposition the alliance forces are now encountering has been anticipated by a section of the intelligence and military establishment, but their view were overruled, according to well-placed sources. But indications of that came out in the open as well.

The Iraqi National Congress (INC) called a press conference in London and then a weekend meeting attended, it was claimed, by representatives of the entire opposition within Iraq. A member of old Iraqi royalty was presented as a possible leader. But the conference over, the group has disappeared. None of its members can now be reached.

Opponents of the INC say now that the move was always going to be a non-starter.

Jawad says the governments in Washington and London were misled by Iraqis claiming to represent the opposition, and were misled by dissident generals who fell out with Saddam Hussein.

The U.S. forgot its own actions -- or the lack of them, he said. "When some people rose in rebellion against Saddam Hussein in 1991, the U.S. refused to help them," he said. "And those who were loyal to Saddam were loyal anyway. So who is going to support them now?"

No Iraqi can forget the consequences of the sanctions over the last 12 years for which they blame the U.S., he said. "They thought that the people of Iraq are deprived and starving, and that they will want the Americans for their goodies. But people have some self-respect."

Hani Lazim, another expatriate Iraqi, who has spent much of his life opposing Saddam Hussein, says the U.S. and the British governments miscalculated because "they are arrogant." They are also forgetting that it is they who backed Saddam, he said.

"I have led demonstrations against Saddam Hussein," he said. "The British police would not let me cover my face, they wanted to take pictures, they broke up the demonstration. Everyone knows that it is they who supported Saddam."

Lazim is now a member of the Iraqi Democrats Against War and Sanctions, a loose group with members in several countries.

"The Americans and the British underestimated the effect that sanctions have had on the people of Iraq," Lazim said. "When people see children die for lack of medicines, and school teachers who have to sell cigarettes on the streets, they are not going to welcome the people who brought this situation upon them."

The bombing of a residential area in Baghdad Wednesday will only increase anger, Lazim said. "The Americans have never fought wars, they have only dropped bombs," he said. "Iraq remembers the bombing of 1991 and the bombing of the soldiers fleeing Basra for Baghdad."

Ultimately it was the Americans who got this wrong, and ultimately it is "because they believe so easily in their own lies," he said. "Everyone should know that it was the Russians who brought down the Nazis, not the Americans, but look at those Hollywood films. They are blind."

There seem to be few Iraqis prepared to believe either that the attack has been launched to liberate them, or that the attack would be launched if there was no oil in Iraq. "Why do they think that the Iraqi people cannot read through those leaflets they are dropping," Lazim said.

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Albion Monitor March 28, 2003 (

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