Photo courtesy of the BBC
First off, my apologies for the delay in updating the site. This past week, I got snowed under by a combination of outside assignments and a maternal visit. I’m not a slacker. Really. Also, to whoever just donated $5, thanks very much! You pushed me over the $100 mark for donations.
Oddly enough, it’s been a bit of a quiet week on the Iraqi front, with any news mostly pushed to the side by Trent Lott winking at the segregationists and then saying, in effect, “I wasn’t winking, I had something in my eye.” As they say in the movies, “It’s quiet … too quiet.”
But the war machine moves on, although perhaps with more hesitation than many people think. Chief of the Army, Gen. Eric Shinseki, and the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James L. Jones, worry that the current war plans are too risky. The plans, as reported by the Washington Post call for “a fast-moving ground attack without an overwhelming number of reinforcements on hand.” Instead, the war would get off to a “rolling start” with more troops being flown in. Also, the armored units, instead of traveling a predetermined distance and pausing to allow slower units to catch up, would charge across the desert until they run into opposition. They would then blow things up real good.
That’s the current plan, anyway, and it’s giving Shinseki and Jones, who sit on the Joint Chiefs, the heebie-jeebies. They argue that Paul Wolfowitz’s rosy “house of cards” theory of the life span of Saddam’s reign is overly optimistic. The generals argue that worst-case planning is necessary, especially in the case of a “Fortress Baghdad” scenario that involves heavy street fighting with the Iraqis using chemical and biological agents. (Hm. Have Shinseki and Jones been reading this entry in which the Ba’ath party has a contingency plan to ring Baghdad with the Republican Guard? The details of the Iraqi defense plan, first reported in the London-based Arabic daily paper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi are thus:
“First, deployment of the Republican Guard forces at the periphery of the cities, primarily Baghdad, to resist any American ground offensive that seeks to take them. The mission of the Republican [Guard] forces will also be to resist any attempt at internal Iraqi rebellion, such as the one that followed the American offensive in January 1991 in the South and the North.”
“Second, deployment of special forces that will include the ‘elite of the elite’ in his words inside the capital Baghdad, so that they can participate in street combat if the American forces or their allies enter. Then, will begin fierce resistance operations, such as those carried out in occupied Palestine.”
“Third, deployment of groups of ‘Saddam’s Fedayeen’ within the capital and in other cities, to control the internal situation and participate in the resistance operations.” (Translation provided courtesy of MEMRI)
The “good” news, I guess, is that if it does come down to horrible fighting, block by city block, and Saddam strikes back with chemical or biological weapons, a majority of Americas are fully prepared to nuke him.
Six in 10 Americans would support a nuclear response, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll. Yipes! More encouragingly, however, 58 percent of respondents said President George W. Bush had not presented enough evidence to warrant attacking Iraq, up from 50 percent in September. There seems to be some concern over Bush’s motives for attacking Iraq and the public worries he’s moving too quickly for their taste. Fifty-eight percent also want to see the United Nations as a supporting cast member. Perhaps in the Gulf War II movie, it will be credited as “second international organization on the left.”
(As an aside, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Al-Quds Al-Arabi that the United States had no plans to remove Saddam from power. “If he cooperates, then the basis of changed-regime policy has shifted because his regime has, in fact, changed its policy to one of cooperation,” Powell said. Note it’s no longer “regime change” but “changed regime” as the goal. Orwell must be proud.)
Oh, and in case anyone thought a war might be averted, the United States will give Iraq’s dossier it turned in last weekend an “F.” With the news that the United States would not be accepting Iraq’s excuse that the dog ate its chemical weapons, the price of gold rose and the dollar fell, indicating that markets feel war is now inevitable. I’ve been saying it since July: It’s not a matter of will the United States go to war, but when. And it’s still looking like February or March. Stratfor agrees, saying that Australia has been advised to be ready to gear up in March. The British military has also begun leaking to the press saying the summer heat would not be a “crucial factor” in an attack on Iraq.
In other news, the Associated Press is now reporting that Turkey is preparing to deploy 65,000 to 75,000 troops in northern Iraq in the event of a U.S. invasion. I reported on this back in October. Radio Australia is reporting that Turkey has already put 10,000 to 15,000 troops on the Turkish-Iraqi border in order to counter Kurdish rebels operating cross border. The goal of the Turks is to prevent the Kurds from forming a state in the fog of war resulting from a dust-up to the south. The Turks would also be in a position to seize the oil fields of Kirkuk and Mosul, something they’ve wanted to do since 1923 when they were denied to Ataturk. Ankara is not going to miss out on the spoils of this war, especially since the first one and the decade of sanctions demolished Turkey’s economy. It’s payback time.