As this is written, the war for Iraq is entering its third week. At least some Iraqis are resisting—perhaps much more stubbornly than expected—because the stakes are high for them. They also are high for us, which is why their resistance most likely will not affect the outcome. Long ago, it was recognized that the most difficult kind of war is a fight to the death; if one side feels that defeat will mean its death, it has little reason to surrender. That is why armies generally treat prisoners well; if troops know that surrender simply means no more fighting, they will fight only until their cause seems hopeless. For some armies, that may be early in the proceedings.
Both Gulf Wars Offer Lessons
By Norman Friedman