Lessons of the War
The general facts about the recent war are not in much dispute. In a span of about three weeks, the United States military overran a country the size of California. It utterly obliterated Saddam Hussein’s military hardware—tanks, heavy artillery, transport—and tore apart his armies. Of the approximately 110 American deaths in the course of the hostilities, fully a fourth occurred as a result of accidents, friendly fire, or peacekeeping mishaps rather than at the hands of enemy soldiers. The extraordinarily low ratio of total American casualties per number of U.S. soldiers deployed, or of American fatalities per Iraqi soldiers killed, is almost unmatched in modern military history—and an unimaginably long way from the specter of Armageddon offered up by a variety of self-proclaimed experts before the war and during its early days.
The phenomenal and rapid success of Operation Iraqi Freedom should not, however, lead us to think that it was a foregone conclusion, or blind us to the age-old obstacles to conducting military operations in the distant Middle East and surrounding environs—difficulties amply attested by the disastrous Russian experience in Afghanistan and Chechnya and past British and French debacles from Gallipoli to Algeria. Brute force does not always translate into battlefield victory, especially, as has often been the case, when logistics are strained, civilians are indistinguishable from soldiers, political considerations bridle the use of firepower, and an antagonist’s defeat is not measurable by the enormous numbers falling to Western arms. No less daunting in the present instance was the surrounding geopolitical landscape: overt enemies of the United States like Syria and Iran, duplicitous friends such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and the suddenly fickle ally Turkey.
Critics of American action, drawing on memories of the first Gulf war in 1990-91, cited other prospective perils as well: burning oil fields, fouled waters, and missiles launched into Israel and Kuwait. Concerns about chemical weapons, blown bridges, exploding dams, suicide bombers, and mass executions were adduced to remind us that conquering this fully functioning criminal state would be much more hazardous than our prior experience of expelling its predatory legions from Kuwait. Saddam Hussein’s military knew where we were, where we were going, and approximately when we would begin. In the operation’s early days, the narrow front at Kuwait was especially vulnerable as thousands of vehicles and troops were crowded into a confined launching area. Moreover, this single point of entry lay some 400 miles distant from Iraq’s northern Kurdish cities—a longer distance than the one confronting the Allied armies in World War II who left the Normandy beaches for the Siegfried line. Although retired generals and others harped on the alleged paucity of troops on the ground, it would have been no less risky to expose to missile or chemical attack a larger force—the suggested figure was 500,000 soldiers, or over half of America’s aggregate front-line combat strength—concentrated in a few thousand acres.
Still another uncertainty was the disposition and likely reaction of the “Iraqi people.” They were not quite enemies, like the Germans in World War II, but neither were they friendlies like the once-liberated West Europeans of that era. Saddam’s subjects were, perhaps, more like the Italians circa 1943: people who sort of wished to be freed from a dictator—but depending on how quickly, painlessly, and profitably it could be done. In the event, they turned out to be a mixture of all three and something else altogether: on one day sullen if not exactly reluctant supporters of Saddam Hussein, on the next a mass of blameless individuals happy to have been extricated from the grip of their despotic overlords, and on the next looters and destroyers of their native heritage and infrastructure, blaming the Americans for their own license and demanding our immediate exit.
How, then, did we pull it off? In lieu of overwhelming numbers and strategic flexibility, the key was speed and tactical surprise. By forgoing a long bombing campaign but starting the land invasion in tandem with precision strikes on the regime’s grandees, we caught the Baathists off guard, killing a fair number, and thereby accomplished a number of critical pre-battle goals. Motorized columns raced to Baghdad, bypassing resistance and overwhelming Iraqi command-and-control before shocked Iraqi generals could react and reorganize. If one thinks of the densely populated Mesopotamian corridor as prey that had long been in the grip of a kind of snake, the idea was to decapitate the beast in Baghdad and thus loosen its grasp far more quickly than could be accomplished by hacking away at its multifarious 300-mile-long coils. There were also political considerations behind the decision not to soften up Iraq by air for weeks on end as we had done in the earlier Gulf war, or later in the cases of Serbia and Afghanistan; despite the greater peril to our forces in the field, we felt we could not ruin the heavy infrastructure of the country, suffer through weeks of televised images of collateral damage caused by us, allow Saddam to devour the resources of his own people, or endure endless criticism of our alleged timidity about putting “boots on the ground.”
The Secretary of Defense and his generals were castigated for a purported “pause” during the first week of operations due to adverse weather and the need to resupply. Their alleged sins included not only insufficient troops or armor in place but also a failure to produce spontaneous local uprisings as advertised. But these criticisms missed the vast revolution in arms that had transpired in the twelve years since the first Gulf war (not to mention the logical point that an imprisoned and brutally subjugated people might need a little time to display its enthusiasm openly). As our troops fought fatigue and sandstorms, 3,000 air sorties a day were nevertheless methodically whittling down the Republican Guard to individual tanks and batteries. When occasionally directing their classical massed formations against the outnumbered American columns, the Iraqis only provided better targets for our jets, flying far above the oil-fired smoke, whirlwinds, and clouds. Alternatively, by breaking up their armored divisions to avoid our bombs, or by taking refuge in mosques, hospitals, and schools, they forfeited any chance to concentrate their fire, made ad-hoc desertions more likely, and diluted their strength, huddling in weak pockets that could be isolated and picked off.
It is easy to exaggerate the effect of airpower in replacing the punch of armored divisions, but it is considerable. How many tanks were 1,000 American planes worth as they dropped their smart bombs on individual Baathist houses and small groups of the Republican Guard? Tacticians still have not done the calibrations. In any case, and notwithstanding charges that Donald Rumsfeld has emasculated the Army, what was proved by our deployment of 10,000 Special Forces to organize the entire northern front, by the flexible use of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, and by the race of the 3rd Mechanized Division to Baghdad was the versatility of the new infantry itself, which can no longer be caricatured as slow, immobile, or one-dimensional. Victory could have unfolded even more quickly had our geopolitics been as inspired as our military operations: a northern front headed by the 20,000-man 4th Infantry Division, strengthened by 60,000 Kurdish irregulars, and covered by 300 bombers flying freely out of Turkey would have ensured the encirclement of Baghdad in five or six days.
Rumsfeld was also slurred for remarking on the superiority of professional troops over draftees. But his point remained valid. The new American military proved lethal beyond its numbers, as near-adolescents without combat experience showed themselves to be more adept at street fighting than the so-called Saddam fedayeen. What has become clear from the war is that, from year to year, the American military has increased its lethality geometrically, not incrementally. What has also become undeniable is the moral character of our forces. Neither bloodthirsty nor triumphalist, American soldiers came across on our television screens as idealists eager to liberate the un-free and return home, content that they had defeated killers and saved innocents. One will long remember the sight of Marines in ray-ban glasses, their radios blaring rock music and their tanks emblazoned with slogans like “Anger Management”: this really was something new in history, a strange marriage between contemporary American mass culture and 19th-century concepts of heroism, patriotism, and humanitarianism.
If these are some of the factors accounting for our victory, a somewhat different question is what accounted for the Iraqi defeat. After all, the war did not necessarily have to be so quick. Even setting aside the hysterical predictions of disaster and the early cries of “quagmire,” we would do well to bear in mind the plenitude of intrinsic advantages on the Iraqi side: ample weapons and munitions, large armies, an array of homeland defenses, trained assassination squads, stealthy political support from other Arab nations, guaranteed sanctuary and supply in Syria, and the presence of newfound allies in Europe who could broker an armistice should the Americans begin to tire or take excessive casualties. Had the highway and the surrounding desert from Kuwait to Baghdad been laced with thousands of land mines, or showered with shells from subterranean artillery, our enormous gamble to send and supply serpentine columns on such a narrow path could have met with near disaster. Perhaps Iraq’s greatest edge lay in the inhibitions placed on American military conduct, in contrast to the freedom enjoyed by Saddam Hussein in parking his military assets in schools and mosques and sending out a powerful stream of televised disinformation.
Why then did the Iraqis fold so abruptly? The answer is at least partly generic—that is, having something to do with the Arab way of war in general. In an impressive and underappreciated study, Arabs at War, Kenneth M. Pollack has outlined the main problems besetting Middle Eastern armies during the last half-century.1 Better known as the author of last year’s The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, Pollack here applies the same dispassionate mode of analysis to the wider military culture that has brought defeat after defeat to modern Arab armies.
There is, to begin with, very little status accorded to conscript soldiers, who are poorly paid, housed, and trained. Tribalism, not merit, is more likely to govern the promotion of officers. In an age of mechanized warfare and combined land-and-air operations, most commanders have little knowledge of flexible tactical doctrine. Instead, outdated Soviet ideas from the 1970’s—like stacking armor in successive rings for massive, set-piece assaults—still infect the thinking of the few generals who have studied military theory. When such rote practices prove suicidal in the face of a sophisticated opponent with mastery of the air, there is no mechanism for ad-hoc adjustment.
There are other deficiencies as well. Weapons, almost exclusively imported rather than manufactured at home, are often poorly maintained and are thrust into the hands of soldiers lacking either education or much experience with high technology. As American soldiers would remark in the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraqi artillery was inaccurate and slow-firing, small-arms fire was poorly directed, and armored vehicles and tanks were in obviously inferior condition.
All this is symptomatic of larger problems: the absence within Arab militaries of free discussion about operational choices, and a system that rewards obsequiousness and punishes initiative. Only in this wider context can the Baathists’ otherwise bewildering tactics in the most recent conflict be understood. Here was a military clique that went to war over the possession of chemical and biological weapons that were so hidden away they could not be readily used for the very purpose for which they had been acquired; that would send an armored column into the open under the cloak of a sandstorm that provided no cloak at all against satellite-guided bombs; that would order men to swarm out of fortifications and dwellings at the sight of approaching American troops (“quail hunters”), only to see them obliterated by waiting planes; that would hurl men clad in pajamas against soldiers arrayed in ceramic body armor; that would stockpile arms and munitions in public sanctuaries that proved indefensible points of resistance.
As Pollack documents, moreover, while defeat on the battlefield can exact a bitter price for a professional Arab soldier, excellence can be no less dangerous, earning him the envy and suspicion of his peers and his political bosses. Few of the prominent Iraqi generals who fought in the Iran-Iraq war survived to fight in Kuwait, and almost none was still around for the latest conflict.
It cannot be an accident that Iraq, whose government has been the most nightmarish in the Arab world, has also proved to be the most inept militarily. As long ago as the 1960’s, the Iraqis showed themselves to be woefully incompetent in putting down the Kurdish guerrilla forces known as the pesh merga. In the Yom Kippur war of 1973, elements of the Iraqi 3rd Armored Division deployed in Syria were nearly annihilated in minutes by far smaller Israeli tank brigades. Saddam Hussein’s renewed wars against the Kurds in 1974-75 were just as unsuccessful, as he applied conventional massed Soviet tactics against the ambushes and flank attacks of pesh merga irregulars.
Then there was the 1980 surprise invasion of Iran, which turned into a complete fiasco. The sudden, seemingly overwhelming Iraqi assault—with their 2,750 tanks, 1,400 artillery pieces, 340 bombers, and 150,000 combat troops, Saddam’s forces enjoyed a five-to-one numerical advantage in most categories—stalled in two months and soon lay under counterattack. Over the ensuing years, the Iraqis staved off utter defeat thanks only to the Iranians’ near-total lack of modern arms, the massive importation of both foreign weapons and the capital to sustain an increasingly doomed enterprise, and the use of chemical weapons.
By the time of the August 1990 invasion of tiny Kuwait, the Republican Guard had at least learned from its experience in Iran how to mount more complex air and ground assaults. Even so, however, at the end of the first Gulf war the Iraqi military was only about a day or two away from complete annihilation. Its strategy had rested on the notion that it could ride out an air assault, shoot down with surface-to-air missiles enough planes to confuse coalition forces, and then kill a few thousand Americans to ensure a negotiated armistice. It is a testament to the insular nature of the Baathist military leaders, many of whom spoke little or no English and had rarely been allowed to travel beyond the Middle East, that they truly believed such a strategy of attrition would work: that they could feed and supply tens of thousands of soldiers in the desert for weeks on end, that tanks buried in sand could either avoid being bombed altogether or emerge intact for cohesive assaults, or that an army without satellite intelligence, sophisticated telecommunications and computers, and smart bombs could defeat a modern American military machine.
If the insularity of a police state breeds weakness, it can, however, also foster a peculiar kind of ephemeral strength—albeit one whose destructive force is more often turned inward in the guise of terror than outward in the form of real power. In the first Gulf war, a third of a million Iraqi soldiers either surrendered with little fighting or deserted before the shooting started. But the more startling fact may be that at least another quarter-million survived the war and returned home to train their rifles on their own unhappy people. Republican Guardsmen who had romped into Kuwait in the summer of 1990 to loot, rape, and murder, and who in late February 1991 were mauled in a few minutes by the 1st Armored Division at the Medina Ridge, had recouped sufficiently only days later to slaughter mostly unarmed Kurds and Shiites by the tens of thousands. (Twelve years later, some of these same Guardsmen or their younger brothers and cousins would themselves be annihilated in less than two weeks by American airpower, Marines, and the 3rd Mechanized Division.)
This dual tendency—to run before competent enemies and to murder innocents at home—is another reflection of a broader military and indeed societal pathology. As Pollack stresses, Arab societies do not produce indigenous sophisticated weaponry. Indeed, their militaries are almost entirely parasitic on Western or westernized arms industries. The need to import weaponry means that their systems are always a generation behind, and this institutionalized obsolescence inevitably portends defeat when fighting is not intramural but rather cross-cultural, against the societies that design and make such arms in the first place.
It is precisely as a response to this growing asymmetry between conventional Arab militaries and Westernized armies that charismatic killers like Osama bin Laden, Yasir Arafat, and Saddam Hussein have turned to unconventional remedies, by which they hope to redress the odds. In the days when the Arabs could count on the support of the Soviet Union, this function was performed by imported Soviet weapons like anti-tank rockets, SAM missiles, plastic explosives, and land mines—all of which were intended less to achieve military parity or enhance conventional offensive operations than simply to kill and maim enough better-armed opponents to convince the rest to back off. After the loss of Soviet subsidies and the gradual disappearance of first-rate non-American and European weaponry, the same end was thought to be achievable by the additional means of surprise attacks, blackmail, bombings, assassination, stepped-up terrorism, and other methods of intimidation.
Until recently, it seems to have been widely believed in the Arab world that the superior technology of the West could, in fact, be nullified by just such threats of random and horrific violence, perpetrated by goose-stepping death squads or masked, pajama-clad bombers. And the breakneck effort to craft weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, and nuclear, must also be seen largely in this context—i.e., the desire to find a surrogate capability, particularly after the loss of the Soviet Union’s nuclear deterrent, that might restore to Arab regimes the perceived power to stave off utter defeat in a conventional war against Israel or the West.
In their choice of military tactics, Arab dictators and Arab terrorists are, indeed, birds of a feather. Baathists who in the recent conflict ran from the 3rd Mechanized Division and suddenly reconstituted themselves as gun-toting civilians in the streets of Mosul and Tikrit resemble the West Bank Palestinian martyrs’ brigades who in daytime pose as nationalist protestors and at night become masked assassins. The Saddam fedayeen who bushwhacked American columns were pale imitations of Hamas and Hizbullah. It was no accident that suicide bombers and Arab “martyrs” showed up in the penultimate stages of the war in hopes of murdering Americans at check points and on patrols. Nor is it a surprise that Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas, the Palestinian murderer-terrorists, should have felt so at home for so long in Baghdad.
What is it that permits this radically dysfunctional system to perpetuate itself? The question is really political rather than military, and ultimately the answer is a state-induced terror that has its roots in the absence of consensual government and of notions of personal freedom, thus ensuring little self-criticism or accountability in matters of war-making or anything else. Helping to keep this entire edifice afloat is an ingrained (but also state-supported) habit of denial: a disavowal of just how deep, and how self-inflicted, are the deficiencies of one’s own society; a rejection of every alternative view of reality that would expose these inadequacies for what they are; an unwillingness to assume any responsibility for repairing them.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, American viewers were exasperated or convulsed at the circus-like spectacle provided by Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the so-called Baathist information minister—a/k/a “Baghdad Bob”—whose daily communiques detailed an endless string of catastrophes for coalition forces. Seeming at first odious, then deranged, at last almost entertaining, al-Sahaf confidently declaimed lines like “We have killed most of the infidels, and I think we will finish the rest soon” even as split-screen television images revealed Abrams tanks looming a few miles away, or Marines resting in Saddam’s Baghdad palaces.
A joke, but too bitter to be mere jest. Such state-sponsored whoppers, spread from Ramallah to Cairo and beyond, are hardly a new phenomenon. In June 1967, as Michael Oren reminds us in Six Days of War, there were triumphant broadcasts about heroic Arab armies approaching the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Egyptian jets pounding Israel even as Israeli soldiers were sweeping to victory on three fronts and Egyptian air fields were littered with the remains of that country’s air force, destroyed in the first minutes of war. Such fabrications are among the intellectual legacies of the Arab regimes of the Middle East, whose homegrown proclivities toward mythmaking and braggadocio were only enhanced by decades of immersion in a Soviet-style disinformation apparatus.
Nor have international news organizations, who supposedly know better, been so immune to these ruinous exercises in falsification as the skeptical treatment of “Baghdad Bob” might suggest. Quite the contrary. Especially when baseless bragging takes the form of protestations about unprecedented Arab suffering and victimization—and even if presented without quite the dramatic flair of the Iraqi information minister—the press has proved all too ready to lend its credibility-enhancing energies to the Arab cause.
The hysteria and lies that surrounded the battle of “Jeningrad” in the spring of 2002 are a prime example of the process—and very instructive in the present context. The occasion was Israel’s incursion into the armed “refugee” camp in the West Bank town of Jenin after scores of Israelis had been killed in Arab suicide bombings over the previous weeks. Relying on tactics designed to minimize civilian casualties, Israeli forces suffered 23 dead while killing between 46 and 52 Palestinians, mostly fighters, in days of fierce house-to-house combat. Immediately there was talk of “genocide,” of “thousands” of Palestinian dead, of a “siege” rivaling that of Leningrad in World War II. The purportedly judicious and sober Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat offered up an estimate of 3,000 dead; he subsequently adjusted this to 500, a figure that, although no less mendacious, was treated with solemn respect, as if to come down from so grand an initial falsehood were a moral triumph in itself.
Indeed, rather than providing Saeb Erekat with his own “Baghdad Bob”-like web page, where his untruths could have been held up to deserved scorn, the Western media, led in this case by the British, canonized them. On April 17, 2002, the Guardian called the supposed massacre at Jenin “every bit as repellent as Osama bin Laden’s attack on New York.” The Evening Standard trumpeted the term “genocide,” and its columnist A.N. Wilson further accused Israel of “poisoning the water supply” to ensure its “cover of genocide.” Not to be outdone, the London Times‘s Janine di Giovanni snapped that not even Bosnia or Chechnya rivaled “such deliberate destruction, such disrespect for human life.”2
From this perspective, the Arab inebriation with falsehood and the propaganda of the lie begins to look not so irrational after all. However injurious such habits of delusion may turn out to be when tested in actual clashes of arms, politically they have proved, at least until now, rather useful—and quite in step with the deductive predispositions of influential sectors of opinion in the West. This is especially so where the subject of Israel and the Palestinians is concerned, but it applies elsewhere as well. European efforts over the years to sell arms to Saddam Hussein’s regime, machinations to hamper American military action, and the postwar European support for Syria to resist the extradition of Iraqi Baathists—these are some of the fruits of a tacit acquiescence in the idea of Arab victimhood. So are the large percentages of Frenchmen and other Europeans favoring Palestinian terror over Israeli democracy. Whatever the particular motive involved, it has been generally the case that Arab adversaries of Israel or of the United States have been able to win politically and diplomatically what they have been unable to achieve through arms on the battlefield.
The real question remains whether, in the wake of Iraq, any of the normal ways of doing business are going to change. As far as the United States is concerned, one might hope that our face-to-face confrontation with and utter defeat of the Baathists—coupled with the evidence of their barbaric rule, documentation of which keeps turning up as we sift through abandoned Iraqi government offices and torture chambers—will lead to a renewed appreciation of what Israel has been up against in its own struggle with an enemy that adopts similar strategies and displays a similar mentality. If nothing else, the trouncing, removal, and humiliation of Saddam Hussein should remind us that wars of self-defense and national survival need to be pursued to their logical conclusions in military defeat of the aggressors and change of regime. Rarely if ever do interrupted conflicts end by means of imposed peace processes, road maps, or UN-brokered armistices—all of which perpetuate and reward the illusion that defeated aggressors can recoup politically what they lost militarily—but rather by the elimination and replacement of the conditions that prompted the conflicts in the first place.
Certainly the geopolitical calculus in the Middle East has visibly improved, including for Israel. We have 100,000 soldiers positioned on the border with Iran—a country now surrounded by reform governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, and one whose restive population is itself reportedly eager for liberalization. Already the United States has turned renewed attention toward the Syrian occupation of Lebanon and the sanctuaries enjoyed by the terrorist cadres of Hamas and Hizbullah; Syria itself may soon be confronted with democracies to the north, south, and east. There are thus grounds for thinking that, combined with other initiatives, our efforts in Iraq might end by so changing realities in the Middle East as to bring about the emergence of more than one new consensual government in the region.
Lending support to the possibility of political progress is the fact that, even before we landed in Iraq, some Arabs seemed at last to be acknowledging that their problems were self-induced—and that these liabilities have been threatening the very survival of their societies. The unusually candid Arab Human Development Report 2002, issued by leading Arab intellectuals under the auspices of the UN, was one such symptom. Among the particulars listed in its damning indictment (framed, needless to say, by a ritual denunciation of Israel) are the struggle between the area’s exploding population—75 percent under the age of eighteen—and its ever scarcer resources; the abysmal economic performance of the 22 undemocratic Arab countries, whose combined gross natural product of $531 billion dollars amounts to $60 billion less than Spain’s alone; the rapacity of the Saudi royal family, which has sequestered $450 billion outside the country, a figure representing not much less than all the goods and services produced by 300 million Arabs each year; and the expressed desire of perhaps half the youth in most Arab countries to emigrate, most often to either Europe or the United States.
The problems of the Middle East are gargantuan, but we have at last taken a lever to this part of the world and given it a shove in the right direction. Still, there are at least two reasons for caution. First, Americans have traditionally been disinclined to seek further confrontations in the wake of victory—or, for that matter, in the wake of defeat. Our material and psychic exhaustion in 1945 meant that we had no stomach for the messy effort to ensure the cause of freedom in Eastern Europe—the very cause that had attended the start of World War II—against our former ally the Soviet Union. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Americans simply walked away from the unfolding genocide in Cambodia. Victory in the first Gulf war precluded any desire for the further bother of actually removing Saddam Hussein—even though thousands upon thousands of Shiites and Kurds were butchered while American soldiers were ordered to stand down. How probable, or perhaps even prudent, is it that an American President will resort to military action against, say, Syria so quickly after the recent war—even if high-ranking Baathists and Iraqi weapons are found ensconced in Damascus? As for the American public, it may be more inclined to turn away in disgust from scenes of free Iraqis angrily demonstrating against their liberators, or from the inevitably messy and protracted business of reconstruction, than to clamor for more of the same in Syria.
Another consideration has to do specifically with Israel. Although our intervention in Iraq neatly gave the lie to the conventional wisdom that the Israel-Arab dispute is at the “heart” of the Middle East problem, it is habitual by now for any American success in the region to be followed by efforts at resolving that dispute. Pressuring Israel to “take risks for peace” has long been seen by our State Department as a means of assuaging Arab humiliation after military defeat—almost as if the amazing military prowess of Western armies required some kind of psychological compensation in the form of political concessions. Thus, in the aftermath of the first Gulf war, the rapid convening of the Madrid conference set the stage for the disastrous Oslo accords—and hence the current “road map.”
But the Palestinians have their own Saddam Husseins, and their own kindred thugocracy—and their own murderous delusions. From all of these material and ideological shackles they need to be liberated before there can be a glimpse of a beginning of concord between them and the Israelis. That difficult truth, too, is a lesson of the recent war, no less than is the gleaming hope borne aloft by the downfall of one especially brutal tyranny through the brilliance of American arms and the perseverance of American vision.
1 Nebraska, 698 pp., $49.95. The subtitle of this book is Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991.
2 For further documentation of this episode, see “Jeningrad: What the British Media Said” by Tom Gross (National Review Online, May 13, 2002).