John Lukacs in his monograph June
1941: Hitler and Stalin reports that "the best military experts throughout
the world predicted the defeat of the Soviet Union within a few weeks, or within
two months at the most" following Hitler's invasion of Russia on June 22,
While the superb German military machine made an excellent showing, by the
beginning of 1943 its offensive capability was exhausted and the Germans were
defeated at Stalingrad. Germany lost the war one and one-half years before the
U.S. could manage the invasion of Normandy. If Hitler had not depleted the German
army in Russia, a U.S. invasion of Normandy could not have been contemplated.
Lukacs concerns himself with unintended consequences of June 22, 1941. It is
not too early, or too late, to concern ourselves with the unintended consequences
of March 20, 2003.
Four and one-quarter years ago the Pentagon and its neoconservative advisers
and media propagandists promised Americans a "cakewalk" war of three
to six weeks duration. Six weeks later on May 2, 2003, in history's most ill-advised
propaganda stunt, President Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham
Lincoln, whose tower was adorned with a banner declaring "Mission Accomplished,"
and announced the end to major combat operations in Iraq.
In fact, the war had hardly begun. Four years later with the failure in June
2007 of President Bush's desperate last measure – "the surge"
– U.S. offensive capability is exhausted. The U.S. military can do no more
and has less control of the situation than ever.
Perhaps the clearest indication that the war in Iraq is no longer under American
control is Turkey's announcement of plans to invade northern Iraq, the home
of the Iraqi Kurds. As June 2007 came to an end, Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah
Gul announced that if U.S. or Iraqi forces did not eliminate the Kurdish guerrillas
that were attacking Turkey, the Turkish army would move into northern Iraq to
deal with the situation.
Foreign Minister Gul was unequivocal: "The military plans have been worked
out in the finest detail. The government knows these plans and agrees with them.
If neither the Iraqi government nor the U.S. occupying forces can do this [crush
the guerrillas], we will take our own decision and implement it."
This ultimatum puts President Bush in an impossible situation. Neither the
Iraqi government nor the U.S. military have the means to deal with Kurdish guerrillas
in their mountain strongholds. The U.S. military cannot even occupy Baghdad. The
Iraqi government exists in name only and can be found only in its offices located
inside the fortified and U.S.-protected Green Zone in Baghdad. Moreover, to the
extent that the in-name-only Iraqi government has any support, it comes from
the Kurds in northern Iraq.
The rest of Iraq is controlled by Sunni insurgents and Shi'ite militias.
Even Basra in the south has been abandoned to the Shi'ite militias by Bush's
The over-stretched American Empire hasn't any troops to send to northern Iraq.
NATO, whose charter was to defend Western Europe from Soviet invasion, should
have been disbanded two decades ago. Today NATO functions as an auxiliary U.S.
force and has been sent to Afghanistan, where it is being defeated like the
British and Russians before it.
In the midst of this unmanageable chaos, Vice President Cheney, Bush's former
UN ambassador John Bolton, and the rest of the War Party
are demanding that the U.S. attack Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.
The unintended consequences of the "cakewalk war" are already far
outside the Bush administration's ability to manage and will plague future governments
for many years. For the administration to initiate new acts of aggression in
the Middle East would go beyond recklessness to insanity.