by Austin Bay
April 1, 2003
What's going on inside Iraq's high command? Who knows? Butimagine (I repeat, imagine) the discovery of ahandwritten letter, in a pile of Baghdad bunker rubble ... a letter thatbegins:
To the Supreme Council:
I have written the letter you ordered. The wily Tariq assures meit will be delivered to our historic leader. Praise to Saddam, grand Saddam,glorious Saddam, wherever he is, wherever he rests and his doubles sleep.
My letter informed the great, historic Saddam that the strategicsituation is precisely as the great, historic reporter Peter Arnett observedon our TV. Our Republican Guard is defeating -- or at least interrupting --America's 3rd Infantry Division and 1st Marine Division. Our fedayeen --culled from the best of Baghdad's underworld gangs -- have so vexed supplylines that for two days the arrogant Marines ate a single meal, and thatmeal was one of those foul-tasting Meals Ready to Eat like the one we foundin the Humanitarian Aid package we shared at our last council meeting. (Idid not mention, however, that the Marines appeared to have plenty ofammunition.)
An army fights on its stomach, I told Saddam. For two days, wedenied the Marines the minimum calorie requirements prescribed by the U.S.Department of Agriculture. They griped with the belly growls of jackals. BBCreported this culinary victory as a dietician from San Francisco emphasizedhow deleterious skipping dinner is to the karma of young Marines.
In my letter, I told our leader the world is turning againstAmerika and her British poodles. (When I worked for the chemical company inFrance, a woman I knew had a poodle -- an obnoxious, effete animal.) We haveBritain's soldiers exactly where we want them, I wrote. We've cornered themon the Fao Peninsula, in Basra, in Umm Qasr, along the roads heading north,in dirty nowhere villages distributing food to civilians. Note, I toldSaddam, there has been no mention of grog rations. We must be denying theBrits their grog.
Then I told him that the Bush administration, already despisedby The New York Times (which I read via Internet, before an air attackdestroyed my computer), is now openly criticized by American people. Can youimagine, a government openly criticized? Moreover, the world's intellectualsare with Saddam. Those who know -- people with degrees from greatuniversities, like Oxford and the Saddam Hussein Academy for AdvancedMartyrdom -- have concluded Amerika's war plans are awry. Each bittermorning the generals at CENTCOM blink before banks of TV cameras, likeconfused gazelles snared by hunters, like hares beneath the shadow of thedesert falcon, as those who know, the press corps, confront them with theirfailures.
I added a summary of how we used the sandstorm (a Divine Wind, Icalled it) to move our Republican Guard Nebuchadnezzar Division from northof Baghdad to the south. I concluded with a comment that time and worldopinion are on our side. Balanced analysts like Ramsey Clark, Noam Chomsky,the Dixie Chicks and Kim Jong Il support us.
I did as ordered. As always, I gave Saddam what he wants tohear.
But among us ... I know so little. Remember Khafji, SaudiArabia? In February 1991, we sent brigades into Khafji, a desperatereconnaissance in force. We could not see the battlefield. Our men died indroves.
We are blind again. Oh, we see the 3rd Division, pinning ourRepublican Guards. We can move toward it but not away from it, at least notwith our equipment. That's the Americans' trick. American smart bombs thenturn our tanks to flame and slag.
Though our fedayeen still terrorize our Shias -- we let themknow our cruelty has no limits -- we know the Shias' vengeance awaits us. Wesay we rely on the Arab street, but the Arab street is a pitiful alley whereshouts die quickly and the strong man's banners tatter and burn once hisbayonet is gone.
U.S. forces have lost fewer than 60 men in combat. As we scream"Vietnam," they reply with a curt "9/11." Gentlemen, the angry Americanstreet has arrived at the gates of Baghdad. They are not here to negotiate.
Alas. I have tried to phone my Swiss banker. Unfortunately, Ican't get a dial tone.