It is frustrating to watch the coalition fumble the war in Iraq. Let’s be as clear as possible about our goal: democracy of the Iraqi people, by the Iraqi people, and for the Iraqi people.
We should have let them know our intentions before we invaded. We should have encouraged a civil overthrow of Saddam before we invaded. We should have made our case to the Iraqi people even if that meant dropping leaflets before we dropped bombs. The communication would have been simple:
“Countries throughout the world are saddened to watch Saddam Hussein murdering and intimidating the Iraqi people. A new government must come to power or these countries will form a coalition to invade Iraq and assist in the election of a new government. Saddam Hussein must step down from power and an election must be held for new local and national leaders. Otherwise the coalition will invade and organize the election. Elections must be held on or before January 1, 2004. The countries in the coalition look forward to a time when the Iraqi people can be free from tyranny.”
Of course whatever communication we decided to use, it should have been translated into all the appropriate languages.
If the deadline comes and passes, the Iraqi people will know our purpose. We should strike only at Saddam. We should continue until he is captured or killed. We should openly bribe and coerce our way to him before we attempt to kill him. Once he is killed or captured, we should have announced the election immediately. (See Winning the Peace).
Without this communication, the Iraqi people see only the invasion of a foreign power. They may not understand that our purpose is their purpose, but instead they see us as the enemy. This is a top-level strategic mistake.
By approaching Iraq as a war instead of as a revolution, we have become one side of that war. In a revolution, it is the people who fight for change, and the coalition would simply be there to support the people.