Four Of A Kind
I've updated my Ba'ath Poker file (white button in right column) to reflect yesterday's capture of the Nine of Hearts and Seven of Spades. Some desultory reflections on that:
Posted by Dr. Weevil at July 10, 2003 12:30 AM
- We have now captured three-eighths of the Top 16 -- 1 Ace, 1 King, 3 Queens, and 1 Jack -- which is a good start but not great for close to three months of searching. On the other hand, we have fully three-quarters of the other cards in custody: two of the Fours, all four Sevens (hence my title), and three each of the other ranks from Two to Ten.
- It's likely, as I have noted before, that at least one or two high-ranking Ba'athists are beyond our reach, either because they were killed in bombing raids, have committed suicide, or have managed to escape to countries evil enough to protect them or inept enough not to notice their presence. How many will turn up (sorry: that's a card joke) in the long run is hard to estimate.
- The Nine of Hearts was reported captured on May 1st, but I removed him from the list of captured cards a few weeks later when I noticed that he had never turned up on the CentCom list. It's interesting that the news organizations that reported his supposed capture never, so far as I can determine, corrected their error.
- It's been almost three weeks since the previous capture, of the Ace of Diamonds. That's not very encouraging. (The Ba'ath Poker file provides graphs charting rank against time of capture.)
- Reasons for the slowing pace of captures are worth mulling. Partly there are just fewer left to catch: fewer fish in the pond, as it were. But there must also be a Darwinian effect: those who have managed to last this long may just be luckier than the others, but are also likely to be the ones who had greater available resources in the way of money, weapons, friends, relatives, safehouses, and so on, or are just better-adapted to the fugitive lifestyle. The Husseins and the face cards would obviously have had more opportunities to squirrel away guns and money and build safe-houses, and it is not surprising that fewer of them have been captured.
- As I have mentioned before, I'm very curious as to whether the fugitives are coagulating into cooperative groups. That would increase their chances of doing damage to coalition forces, but also increase their chances of being caught in bunches. I'm particularly curious as to whether the three Husseins are working together and at least occasionally meeting.
- It's hard to see a winning strategy for the surviving Ba'athists. They can keep picking off our soldiers one by one, but if we keep capturing their leaders, they will run out long before we do. I don't mean to be callous: they can make things thoroughly nasty, but that's not the same as winning. If they try to put together a major operation that could lower morale by killing 20 or 50 or 100 of our troops at a time, they vastly increase the risk of being spotted (or informed on) beforehand, or caught and killed afterwards. I suppose all they can do is try to multiply the pinprick attacks, encourage civilian disgruntlement by trying to blow up pipelines and power lines faster than we can repair them (and faster than we kill the dynamiters), and hope they can hold on until a withdrawal-minded Democrat is elected. That doesn't seem like much of a game plan to me.
- News organizations never seem to report whether the Iraqis or foreign irregulars who are shooting at our troops wear any sort of recognizable uniform. If not, they are not 'guerrillas' but simple terrorists.