20 October, 2020

Dustdevils And A Mirage

The coalition of the willing holds on to its optimism in the face of Iraqi recalcitrance and a negative media blitz

Dustdevils And A Mirage
The war opened when no one expected it: at first light. President Bush’s deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq elapsed at 4.15 am Baghdad time. At the forward headquarters of US Central Command, on a dusty army base in this Persian Gulf emirate, soldiers waited anxiously by the TV until the sky began to go from black to blue; then relaxed, figuring the bombing would hold off another day. Suddenly, sirens sounded over Baghdad. As news came that US missiles had targeted senior Iraqi leaders, Sgt Chinena Smallwood, 30, allowed herself to dream the war might be over before it started. "We could all go home now," she said. Jennifer Villanueva, who maintains Patriot defensive missiles with Smallwood, shook her head. "It’s too easy."

A week later, it seems Villanueva was closer to the truth. It’s still unclear whether Saddam was killed that dawn. But for US troops, the war has evolved into a trudge through sandstorms, fierce battles and the absence (so far) of the joyful Iraqi crowds they’d expected. In the Joint Ops Center here, a trailer-like building where US military...



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