Driven To Desparation

George W. must be remembering his Phillips Academy days in this Gulf War II – the days he spent as a Blue Key screaming the cheer, “We are Andover! We are it! We think your team plays like…Shift to the left…” Think about it: isn’t that really what he’s telling Iraq, by assuming that Saddam will be so quickly defeated? Bush’s Andover pride goes hand-in-hand with his Andover naivete; a few things for which he did not account have occurred: guerrilla warfare and suicide bombings. After all, the Exeter team never used those below-the-belt tactics in football. In lacrosse, the Deerfield boys never dressed themselves up as fans, ran onto the playing field, picked up the ball, and scored when the moment was right. The Choate jocks never sacrificed their own playing time to injure as many Andover players as possible. Bush’s new military campaign, dominating totalitarian countries, was designed to move along at breakneck speeds (a “bring our boys home in time for April Fool’s Day” kind of thing). Iraq shall serve as a precedent for a pre-emptive strike and allow us to move on and defeat the rest of the Axis of Evil, a.k.a. the Nefarious Coalition of Dictators With Difficult Long Names. Yet in his haste, Bush needs to remember something crucial: modern guerrilla warfare, the gadfly to our horse. This campaign will become largely futile if we continue to encounter warfare like this on our conquests. We are provoking a fanatical, scared enemy at the time when guerrilla warfare unleashes a terrifying weapon: the suicide bomber. Suicide bombers pose an extreme threat to our safety and economy. If we plan to thwart Muslim nations with fanatics like Saudi Arabia and Iran, we may have to deal with terrible apprehension, a worry that at any minute we could face death. We are experiencing a wind of it already after 9/11. Indeed, if Bush is feeling trepidation about Iraqi guerrilla warfare and suicide bombers, he should trace guerrilla warfare throughout history. In the first case, the Iraqis stole the strategy from the North Vietnamese, who simply tried to stay alive as long as possible in the face of a superior army. The North Vietnamese developed their tactics by studying Bush’s beloved namesake of 43 presidencies ago. George Washington’s military tactics against the British essentially consisted of staying alive as long as possible by using surprise attacks. The fact that a new George W. faces the tactics of the old George W. creates more irony than I can bear. David is now Goliath. In the second case, a valiant Robert E. Lee ordered his troops to surrender at Appomattox instead of ordering them to retreat to the forest and engage in guerrilla warfare. Yet, after Lee surrendered, Grant allowed him and every officer to return to their homes. So although Reconstruction proved a tumultuous period, because the northern government had the best of intentions, everything eventually turned out for the best. Our enemy is not as valiant as Lee; but are we as valiant as Grant? And so, to examine how to be a chivalrous conqueror, let us return to our examples. Thus far, I have cited two important precedents of guerrilla warfare, George Washington’s effective use of it, and Lee’s temperate abstinence from it. One great general embraced it, while another shunned it. But the real difference, you see, lies in the goals of the two. The British goal in the Revolutionary War was to subjugate the colonists under their rule, allowing them no say in the government. The Union’s aim was to exist with the South and to give the Confederacy equal voice in the government. Thus, the colonists could never allow themselves to surrender, only to be repressed, while the South probably understood that surrender would not lead to repression. What am I driving at? The difference between whether one’s enemy engages in guerrilla warfare or not is in the treatment of that enemy. If one feels oppression is imminent, one will resort to guerrilla warfare and suicide bombings, measures of desperation. If one justifies one’s cause in the name of liberty, one may not sacrifice their peoples at all. For you see, the mindset of the Iraqis is as a 35-year-old Basra resident articulated: “The soldiers are destroying the pictures of our president, and that’s all they’re doing.” The majority of anti-American Muslims must not be anti-American because of fanatical ideology; the estimated 3,000 men who volunteered to die for their country were probably moderates afraid their lifestyle would be adversely affected, men so threatened that they make the ultimate sacrifice. To combat this misinformation, we must use the war in Iraq to brighten our nation’s image in the minds of the Muslim people. We must rebuild Iraq while minimally occupying it; more crucially, we must allow the Iraqis to choose their own leader. If Muslims around the saw such an undeniable sign of American beneficence, guerrilla warfare would subside. The enemy does not always play by the rules when it perceives its adversary as cheaters. Thus, by giving the Iraqis a just and unprejudiced reconstruction, we must demonstrate to the world that America plays ball fairly.