Sunday, 23 March 2003

“Operation Parking Lot”

That’s what Robyn is now advocating (in comments at Michele’s place) in response to the treatment of U.S. POWs by Iraq. Ian Pannell in the BBC’s warblog is both right and wrong:

One expects within 24hrs the pictures of the captured servicemen will be shown on American TV networks.

I don’t think it will change people’s minds about the war because they are rallying behind the troops. But after the war it may raise problems for the president.

There has been a great deal of anger.

There has been a great deal of anger. But it will only “raise problems for the president” if those responsible, including the Iraqi information minister, aren’t either killed in action or put on trial after the war. The evidence of executions of prisoners of war, if borne out by further investigation, will result in rage against Saddam Hussein and his henchmen. The words of Gen. Wesley Clark in Monday’s Times of London are particularly prescient:

The scenes of those American soldiers held captive and, possibly, executed, will inflame US public opinion; opinion that is already 75 per cent in favor of this operation. Those who are demonstrating against the operation will have to contend with even stronger public sympathies for the troops. This may well strengthen support for the policies that took us to war. As for the leaders of the coalition, President Bush and Tony Blair, there is no turning back. They, of all people, understand clearly that they must press ahead with even more determination.

The Iraqi regime, or what is left of it, has grossly miscalculated if they believe we will have a Mogadishu Moment in response. And when they’re sitting in front of a war crimes trial in Baghdad or Basra in a few months, perhaps those of Saddam’s minions responsible will ponder why they traded their chance at a new life in post-Saddam Iraq for a firing squad.