Mark Kleiman asks a couple of questions wondering if the disposition of US forces was based on over-optimistic projections of the Iraqi response; blogger Phil Carter at Intel Dump earns a spot on the blogroll for his response (in sum: it's clear some assumptions have turned out not to be correct, but that doesn't really matter, as our forces are trained to adapt to the situation and are doing so). Carter's analysis paints an encouraging picture of the situation--for example, I agree with his assessment that a reported Republican Guard counterattack may represent more of an opportunity for American forces--but he does present this sobering reminder:
Stalin was undoubtedly a more evil tyrant than Saddam Hussein, but the Soviet people fought for him anyway. Why? Largely because World War II was a war of national survival for the Russian people. This kind of war mobilizes people to fight in a way like no other. America believed after Pearl Harbor that it was fighting WWII as such a war, and thus no cost was too high. We did not feel the same way in Vietnam; our enemies did. Israel's performance in the Golan Heights in 1973 provides another instructive example of how armies fight in wars of national survival when their back is against the wall. Soldiers and civilians fight hard when they believe in their hearts and minds that their nation, their family, and their way of life is at risk. Whatever atrocities Saddam has inflicted, he has managed to convince his people that they are fighting a war of national survival. With the American Army at Baghdad's doorstep, it's not hard to see why the Iraqis believe they are fighting for their survival.
Update: Daily Kos agrees that the Iraqi forces are making a mistake.