Shock and Awe in Iraq; U.S. Army Sgt. James Amyett Told the Washington Post, 'I Guess the Iraqis Didn't Get the Memo That the War Is Over.'

By Will, George F. | Newsweek, April 26, 2004 | Go to article overview

Shock and Awe in Iraq; U.S. Army Sgt. James Amyett Told the Washington Post, 'I Guess the Iraqis Didn't Get the Memo That the War Is Over.'


Will, George F., Newsweek


Byline: George F. Will

Aleksandr Kerensky died in New York in 1970. He had lived there since the 1940s, also spending time at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. From May 1918 to 1940 he lived in Western Europe, editing newspapers and journals for other Russian emigres. In July 1917, at the age of 36, he had become head of Russia's government. In October he was ousted by a 47-year-old, Vladimir Lenin.

It is worth taking this walk down memory lane as the United States struggles with the task of midwiving the birth of a new regime in Iraq. The U.S. challenge is not just to produce an Iraqi head of government. It is to make sure that that person is not a Kerensky--an historical blip followed by a protracted horror.

The midwiving is becoming curiouser and curiouser. Diplomats from Iran, which is one third of the Axis of Evil, are in Iraq to facilitate the construction of a new regime. And an envoy from the United Nations is there to suggest what price the United States might have to pay in diminished control in order to acquire more international support for whatever government is born on June 30.

All of this maneuvering is taking place in the context of the armed resistance to the occupation forces. That resistance has inflicted something akin to "shock and awe."

Shock, certainly, because the administration did not plan for months, let alone years, of protracted low-intensity warfare. Awe? Perhaps not, but the U.S. military expresses grudging professional respect for what the insurgents are doing. U.S. officers have been impressed by the coordination of the insurgents' attacks, and the fact that they have even included such relatively sophisticated tactics as the use of illuminating flares in nighttime combat.

"Interesting." That word should earn Army Col. Dana J.H. Pittard a medal, with oak-leaf cluster, for understatement in the line of duty. He was referring to this: Although a convoy of U.S. troops heading south from Baghdad to a base in central Iraq was using a convoy route for the first time, one highway bridge was destroyed by insurgents and two other bridges were too badly damaged to be crossed by heavy Army vehicles.

Said Pittard: "The dropping of the bridges was very interesting because it showed a regional or even a national level of organization." Organization sufficient to learn U.S. movements and quickly get explosives in place. As U.S. Army Sgt. James Amyett told The Washington Post, "I guess the Iraqis didn't get the memo that the war is over. …

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