News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

April 12, 2006

Pete Chalos: In Iraq, we must get job done, then get out

You can call it what you want to call it but what is happening right now in the country of Iraq is a civil war. Fancy words like “insurgency” aren’t fooling anyone. You’ve got two sides fighting over the fate of a country. That is a civil war.

Last week, Saddam Hussein and six others faced new charges concerning the organized and premeditated genocide committed against Iraqi Kurds during the war with Iran in the late 1980s. Saddam now stands accused of killing more than 100,000 people in the Anfal campaign.

The new trial will be held alongside the current trial in which Saddam has been charged with the murder of 148 Shiites in retaliation for an assassination attempt. Iraqi authorities have chosen to try Saddam separately for each of the various crimes he is charged with over the course of the next several months.

Why are all of these people still alive? The longer Saddam’s trial lasts, the longer we risk losing him to a rescue attempt by his loyalists. Any one of his former aides would also serve as a powerful figurehead if rescued. For goodness sake, get this trial over with and bring a close to the old regime.

The latest U.S. intelligence estimates put the present number of hardcore guerrilla fighters involved in insurgent activity between 12,000 and 20,000. That’s quite a bit more than the estimate of 5,000 given in 2003. Earlier this year, General Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, director of the Iraqi intelligence service, said he believed there could be as many as 200,000 insurgents, including 40,000 hardcore fighters. Remember, these are only estimates. The numbers could be higher.

Meanwhile, America only has between 130,000 and 150,000 troops deployed in Iraq, counting all categories of troops. How on Earth would we hope to stop the insurgents if they made a genuine and well-organized effort to rescue Saddam?

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