KILLING A REGIME, NOT A PEOPLE

Charles Krauthammer has written his best column in some time–and that’s saying something. He points out the breathtaking precedent of this war:

Surgically removing a one-party police state while trying to leave the civilians and the infrastructure as untouched as possible is an operation of unusual difficulty. Yet the pictures from the opening nights of the war told the story: plumes of smoke from precision strikes on Saddam Hussein’s instruments of power while the city lights remained on and cars casually traversed the streets.

This kind of war is totally new. We have, of course, destroyed totalitarian regimes in the past, Nazi Germany and imperial Japan most notably. But in World War II, we made war not just on the regime but on the whole country. Cities were firebombed with the intent of breaking the people (“the Hun,” as Churchill liked to call the Germans) and destroying the whole of their industrial civilization. And we damn near succeeded. It took decades to rebuild those countries from the ashes.

Amazing. Krauthammer believes this is only the beginning:

It is one thing to depose tin-pot dictators. Anyone can do that. It is another thing to destroy a Stalinist demigod and his three-decade apparatus of repression — and leave the country standing. From Damascus to Pyongyang, totalitarians everywhere are watching this war with shock and awe.

Indeed.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.