The US administration plans to declare victory in Iraq in due course, whether or not Saddam Hussein and his lieutenants have capitulated, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing US officials.
"The objective is not necessarily to take buildings or occupy areas," one senior military officer involved in planning for the war's conclusion told the Post. "It's the people. It's getting them to accept the fact that the regime is gone. That's the essence of the thing."
And the "rolling" victory theory will come at an as yet unspecified moment in the future when US forces are in control of "significant territory and have eliminated a critical mass of Iraqi resistance," the Post said.
US officials do not foresee surrender similar to Germany's to the Allies at Reims that concluded World War II.
"Rather, they hope to recognize a moment when the military and political balance tilt decisively away from Hussein's Baath Party government," the unnamed senior military officer told the daily.
But while the US administration intends to intimidate Iraqi leaders and seize power, it risks credibility by declaring itself in charge while significant resistance remains, the article adds.
General Richard Myers, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, yesterday stated that the Iraqi capital would not have to be under US control in order for the United States to set up a new interim administration.