(continued from the previous post)
The timing of declaring victory is important in military and psychological terms, and would be up to the president after a recommendation from military advisers. The administration is set on intimidating Iraqi leaders and seizing power, yet it would risk its credibility by declaring itself in charge while significant resistance remains.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday that Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, would not need to be under U.S. control for the administration to establish an interim Iraqi administration. When Baghdad is isolated from the rest of the country, he said, the city is "almost irrelevant."
"Whatever remnants are left would not be in charge of anything except their own defense," Myers told reporters, "and it would be fairly small compared to the rest of the country and what's happening."
Some outside analysts suggest that Baghdad must be in U.S. control before fearful residents of southern Iraq would be convinced that Saddam Hussein and his authoritarian government are gone for good. Until then, some specialists believe, armed opposition could remain strong.
One marker explicitly rejected by the White House is the capture or confirmed death of Hussein. The administration does not want its ambitious postwar plans to be held hostage by a search for the Iraqi leader. Opinion polls have suggested that a public perception of success would be reduced if Hussein's whereabouts remain unknown.
While I would certainly welcome an end to this war, the troubling fact is that this Amdinistration has place us in a position where there are few good options and many bad ones. Given that the Bush Administraiton appears to be staking much on the push to conquer Baghdad, a failure to do so could have a number of unwelcome consequences, including fostering the international perception that Saddam Hussein, by his survival, has beaten Bush. However, I continue to hope for one positive outcome of this war: that the American public won't be as willing to follow the neocon hawks in their evident self-appointed mission to
conquer pacify the entire Middle East.
Update: Digby has much more.