Tuesday, January 28, 2003


Countdown to Invasion: 3 Days?

Why would we even try to convince people who believe we are a greater threat to world peace that we are right to end the threat Iraq poses to our security? Why would we delay and risk the lives of our troops to lower the percentage to 80% from 84% who distrust us more than Iraq or anybody else? Such people cannot be convinced. The Carnegie Endowment people who oppose war cannot be convinced. Jessica Matthews' essay shows she will never believe war is justified. After twelve years, she thinks we don't know if inspections work or not. She thinks war is unnecessary. Every new resolution obliterates the history of Iraqi lies prior to the UN vote and so requires a new beginning to judge Iraq. Yet somehow she thinks that we could "overwhelm" Iraq (say it to yourself, Jessica, you just called for destroying Iraq) should they use any WMD against us. She obviously does not think that, and why she would say that in an effort to avoid a quite necessary war is for her conscience to debate, I suppose. Any evidence produced by us will either be considered insufficient or forged. Or, egads, "old." Yet in her essay she fears that the Iraq that she says has been contained from developing WMD, in fact has sufficient WMD to use against us even at home should we invade. That's quite a record of containment for a regime that agreed to get rid of all of WMD.

Remember, 1441 was supposed to be their last chance to come clean and get rid of their WMD.

Far from rushing to war, we have displayed remarkable patience, giving Iraq all the time in the world to disarm and cooperate, giving Congress time to debate and authorize war, giving the UN time to give Iraq yet another chance (and now some would like to give them another "final" chance), and giving anti-war people plenty of time to make their case. Heck, Sean Penn had tome to go to Baghdad and Sheryl Crow had time to stitch a t-shirt with an anti-war message. The president should make his case tonight, give the UN Security Council a couple days to act on the Blix report's verification that Saddam is in material breach of 1441, and then provide the gotcha evidence Thursday night. He can make the case that our allies know this information yet they will not back us. Then, on Friday, when Blair is here, announce that we and our allies consider Saddam Hussein in material breach of 1441 and reserve the right to take action. We should attack that evening (EST).

Some say we will have weeks of bombing first, but I doubt it. I've guessed from a week or so before the heavy armor goes in to even a little after the ground invasion starts. I still tend to prefer the shorter time, but if we go soon, it may be because we do intend to bomb for a bit while we converge the pieces of our invasion force into Iraq. Still, with all the talk that this is a regime take down akin to Panama rather than a battle like Desert Storm, I'd bet on a near-simultaneous ground and air strike for maximum shock rather than maximum attrition. Besides, our munitions are so smart now, that we could probably do a fair amount of attrition during the time it takes to roll up to the gates of Baghdad.

And it should be soon. We are not waiting for all the divisions alerted to make it to the Gulf. Look at what divisions have been alerted according to public announcements and press stories: 3rd Infantry, 101st Airborne, 10th Mountain, 4th Infantry, 1st Cavalry, 1st Armored, 1st Infantry. Plus elements of two of our Marine divisions. So we are to believe that seven of our ten active Army divisions are going to fight Iraq? With 82nd Airborne fighting in Afghanistan (and involved in a fairly large battle right now, apparently) and 2nd Infantry guarding Seoul, that leaves only 25th Infantry (I think, 25th) and a Marine division in Okinawa in reserve? Light infantry outfits and the 25th is, I believe, involved in the Stryker brigade creation? We really have time to mobilize the Guard in a crisis should something else come up? And 1st Infantry can't go because of its ongoing commitment to Kosovo, anyway. Maybe 4th Infantry and 1st Armored are designated occupation troops when the invasion force rotates out after defeating Saddam's legions. Or maybe we just want 4th ID's equipment sailing in the Indian Ocean relatively close to South Korea just in case. All I am confident of for sure is that we aren't waiting for all those alerted units to get to the Gulf before we invade.

And the British amphibious group is off of Cyprus, apparently. There is no reason it must join our Marines in the Gulf. It could stage through Jordan from the Mediterranean and strike out of Jordan with our forces. If I am not mistaken, we have Army and Marine equipment stored there. Could these all provide the core of a division-sized element that invades western Iraq, linking up with airlifted light forces that go directly into captured Iraqi airbases and with armor advancing out of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait? There are American and allied pieces all around the periphery, and they could go anywhere.

On to Baghdad.