Friday, February 07, 2003

The Third War of the British Succession

In 1968, the British announced that they would withdraw their forces from "east of Suez." The British had long been the stabilizing outside power in the Gulf region but could no longer afford the imperial mission. Stability was still needed after 1971, but the United States, still damaged by the Vietnam War and the Soviet Union's apparent growing strength, was in no position to fill the vacuum. The question of who would succeed Britain in the role of stabilizer was not answered with any certainty for three decades, but may now finally be known. With American-led occupation of Iraq pending, we may see the end of the period of instability that has developed since the British withdrew from the Gulf region. America will succeed Britain. Reluctantly, but with the growing belief that there is no alternative, America is going east of Suez to stay.

During the 1970s, America attempted to fill the vacuum left after British withdrawal by proxy—arming the Shah's Iran to the teeth. As the 1970s closed, an Islamic revolution brought Khomeini to power and sent Iran into chaos and anti-Americanism. The United States announced it would create a Rapid Deployment Force to be able to deter invaders of the region, but that force was merely a notion. With Britain gone and America's proxy dead, there was no stabilizer to enforce the status quo.

Into that vacuum entered Iraq. Eager to end the humiliation of Iran bending Iraq to Tehran's will, Iraq in 1980 initiated the First War of the British Succession. Iraq aimed to humble Iran and seize its Khuzestan oil province leading to domination of the Gulf, the Arab world, and the larger non-aligned movement in the Third World. Yet America backed Iraq with great reluctance, starting with a "tilt" in 1982, viewing Iran as the greater evil and so tried to give Iraq enough assistance to avoid losing. America intervened in the latter part of the war directly, effectively escorting Iraqi-bound traffic to and from Kuwait to protect them from Iranian attacks. From behind this shield, the Iraqis struck Iranian tankers. The war that Iraq initiated against Iran did not end until 1988. By the end of that period, when Iranian battlefield resistance unexpectedly collapsed, Iraq was a power with which to be reckoned.

During that war, with an objectionable state, Iraq, fighting our former client, Iran, America sought to build up Saudi Arabia as our new bulwark of stability. Modern American arms flowed to Riyadh, which ultimately proved to be nothing but expensive status symbols for the Saudis. Our Rapid Deployment Force began to flesh out and our Army began to look beyond the Cold War confrontation lines at the DMZ in Korea and Fulda Gap in Germany.

The Second War of the British Succession began in 1990 with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. American-led forces, freed from the Cold War battle line in Europe, drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait in an overwhelming display of American military prowess that decimated the Iraqi military in only 100 hours of ground offensive. Yet the time it took us to deploy our military to the Gulf was a sobering reminder of the difficulty of policing the region from a distance, where our only speedy response could be nuclear. Our Rapid Deployment Force had not become rapid enough. Although we hoped Saddam's defeat would lead to his downfall, he managed to fight off his enemies and survive. Over the next dozen years, Saddam thwarted inspections to eliminate his weapons of mass destruction and tightened his grip on power with ever more brutal methods. His quest for glory had been checked but as long as he lived, he could hope he would get his chance to lead Iraqis to their rightful place in history, as he saw it. Although we had hoped to smash Saddam and reverse his invasion of Kuwait, we found we were unable to return our presence to the status quo ante. We were dragged into the Gulf to watch Saddam and prepared to rush troops to the new front should Saddam role south again. There was no end in sight to our military presence, which tried to bring stability to a region with despots who channeled local anger about their homegrown dictators against America. We were in the worst of both worlds. We were unable to withdraw yet unwilling to force real change that would lessen anti-Americanism.

Saddam's brutality, ambition, and lust for nuclear weapons have led the United States to finally believe that enough was enough. September 11 demonstrated how much Islamists hate us and reminded us of the price we might pay should Saddam gain the world's most horrible weapons.

The Third War of the British Succession will begin soon. Perhaps, I believe, by the 14th or 15th of February. Perhaps a little later. But the invasion is coming. After destroying Saddam's war machine, we will settle in to root out the banned weapons programs and eliminate the apparatus of terror that governs Iraq today. We will be entrenched in Central Asia, with forces there and in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will be present in NATO Turkey and in the Gulf states. We will have a presence in Egypt and Eritrea. Israel will remain an ally and we will of course, temporarily occupy Iraq. Only in Saudi Arabia will we likely reduce our footprint to a level that will end that irritant to Islamists. With our influence established in a ring around the Gulf and in Iraq, we will have the job of creating stability where none has existed for more than three decades. Success is not guaranteed. I don't know if it is even likely. But continuing on with the old status quo is unacceptable. We must try to change the region for the better instead of managing its explosive neuroses.

Mostly, I hope that this Third War of the British Succession will be the last. If the Iranians rise up on their own to depose the thugreocracy that misrules them, we may have hope that this terrible period will end.

Casualties of War

From UPI. I am relieved that our casualties are so few that we yet list each by name. Each death is a tragedy, so I do not mean to minimize our losses; but I hope we never reach the point where we just list a number for the week.

U.S. military deaths in war on terrorism

From the International Desk
Published 2/5/2003 10:41 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- List of U.S. military personnel killed in Operation Enduring Freedom (as of Feb. 5, 2003):
Andrews, Evander Earl; Air Force master sergeant; 36; Solon, Maine; Oct. 10, 2001; heavy equipment accident.
Edmunds, John J; Army specialist; 20; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Oct. 19, 2001; helicopter crash.
Stonesifer, Kristofor T.; Army private first class; 28; Missoula, Mont.; Oct. 19, 2001; helicopter crash.
Davis, Bryant L.; Navy fireman apprentice; 20; Chicago; Nov. 7, 2001; fell overboard USS Kitty Hawk.
Johnson, Benjamin; Navy electronics technician 3rd class; 21; Rochester, N.Y.; Nov. 18, 2001; Lost at sea, Persian Gulf.
Parker, Vincent; Navy engineman 1st class; 38; Preston, Miss.; Nov. 18, 2001; lost at sea, Persian Gulf.
Maria, Giovanny; Army private; 19; New York; Nov. 29, 2001; non-hostile gunshot wound in Uzbekistan.
Jakes, Michael J. Jr.; Navy electricians mate fireman; 20; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Dec. 4, 2001; on-board ship accident.
Davis, Jefferson Donald; Army Special Forces master sergeant; 39; Watauga, Tenn.; 39; Dec. 5, 2001; friendly fire incident.
Petithory, Daniel Henry; Army Special Forces sergeant first class; 32; Cheshire, Mass.; 32; Dec. 5, 2001; friendly fire incident.
Prosser, Brian Cody; Army Special Forces staff sergeant; 28; Frazier Park, Calif.; 28; Dec. 5, 2001; friendly fire incident.
Chapman, Nathan Ross; Army Special Forces sergeant 1st class; 31; San Antonio; Jan. 4, 2002; enemy fire.
Bancroft, Matthew W.; Marine captain; 29; Shasta, Calif.; Jan. 9, 2002; plane crash.
Bertrand, Bryan P.; Marine lance corporal; 23; Coos, Ore.; Jan. 9, 2002; plane crash.
Bryson, Stephen L; Marine gunnery sergeant; 35; Montgomery, Ala.; Jan. 9, 2002; plane crash.
Germosen, Scott N.; Marine staff sergeant; 37; Queens, N.Y.; Jan. 9, 2002; plane crash.
Hays, Nathan P.; Marine sergeant; 21; Lincoln, Wash.; Jan. 9, 2002; plane crash.
McCollum, Daniel G.; Marine captain; 29; Richland, S.C.; Jan. 9, 2002; plane crash.
Winters, Jeannette L.; Marine sergeant; 25; De Page, Ill.; Jan. 9, 2002; plane crash.
Cohee, Walker F. III; Marine staff sergeant; 26; Wicomico, Md.; Jan. 20, 2002; helicopter crash.
Morgan, Dwight J.; Marine sergeant; 24; Mendocino, Calif.; Jan. 20, 2002; helicopter crash.
Disney, Jason A.; Army specialist; 21; Fallon, Nev.; Feb. 13, 2002; equipment accident.
Allison, Thomas F.; Army specialist; 22; Tacoma, Wash.; Feb. 21, 2002; Philippines helicopter crash.
Dorrity, James P.; Army staff sergeant; 37; Goldsboro, N.C.; Feb. 21, 2002; Philippines helicopter crash.
Egnor, Jody L.; Army chief warrant officer 2nd class; 32; Liberty Township, Ohio; Feb. 21, 2002; Philippines helicopter crash.
Feistner, Curtis D.; Army major; 34; White Bear Lake, Minn.; Feb. 21, 2002; Philippines helicopter crash.
Forshee, Jeremy D.; Army sergeant; 25; Pisgah, Alab.; Feb. 21, 2002; Philippines helicopter crash.
Frith, Kerry W.; Army staff sergeant; 37; Jamesville, Nev.; Feb. 21, 2002; Philippines helicopter crash.
McDaniel, William L.; Air Force master sergeant; 36; Fort Jefferson, Ohio; Feb. 21, 2002; Philippines helicopter crash.
Owens, Bartt D.; Army captain; 30; Franklin, Ohio; Feb. 21, 2002; Philippines helicopter crash.
Ridout, Juan M.; Air Force staff sergeant; Maple Tree, Wash.; Feb. 21, 2002; Philippines helicopter crash.
Rushforth, Bruce A. Jr.; Army staff sergeant; 35; New Bedford, Mass.; Feb. 21, 2002; Philippines helicopter crash.
Carter, Curtis A.; Army specialist; 25; Lafayette, La.; Feb. 27, 2002; non-hostile gunshot wound in Kuwait.
Harriman, Stanley L.; Army chief warrant officer; 35; Wade, N.C.; March 2, 2002; enemy fire.
Anderson, Marc A.; Army specialist; 30; Brandon, Fla.; March 4, 2002; enemy fire.
Chapman, John A.; Air Force technical sergeant; 36; Waco, Texas; March 4, 2002; enemy fire.
Commons, Matthew A.; Army private first class; 21; Boulder City, Nev.; March 4, 2002; enemy fire.
Crose, Bradley S.; Army sergeant; 27; Orange Park, Fla.; March 4, 2002; enemy fire.
Cunningham, Jason, D.; Air Force senior airman; 26; Camarillo, Calif.; March 4, 2002; enemy fire.
Roberts, Neil C.; Navy aviation boatswain's mate-handling petty officer first class; 32; Woodland, Calif.; March 4, 2002; enemy fire.
Svitak, Philip J.; Army sergeant; 31; Joplin, Mo.; March 4, 2002; enemy fire.
Bourgeois, Matthew J.; Navy chief petty officer; 35; Tallahassee, Fla.; March 27, 2002; stepped on land mine.
Craig, Brian T.; Army staff sergeant; 27; Houston; April 15, 2002; explosives clearing operation accident.
Galewski, Justin J.; Army staff sergeant; 28; Olathe, Kan.; April 15, 2002; explosives clearing operation accident.
Maugans, Jamie O.; Army sergeant; 27; Wichita, Kan.; April 15, 2002; explosives clearing operation accident.
Romero, Daniel A.; Army sergeant 1st class; 30; Longmont, Colo.; April 15, 2002; explosives clearing operation accident.
Vance, Gene Arden; Army sergeant; 38; Morgantown, W.Va.; May 19, 2002, enemy fire.
Corlew, Sean M.; Air Force technical sergeant; 37; Thousand Oaks, Calif.; June 12, 2002; plane crash.
Shero, Anissa A.; Air Force staff sergeant; 31; Grafton, W.Va.; June 12, 2002; plane crash.
Tycz; Peter P. II; Army sergeant 1st class; 32; Tonawanda, N.Y.; June 12, 2002; plane crash.
Speer, Christopher James; Army sergeant 1st class; 28; Albuquerque, N.M.; Aug. 7, 2002; enemy fire.
Jackson, Mark Wayne; Army sergeant 1st class; 40; Glennie, Mich.; Oct. 2, 2002; explosion in Philippines.
Checo, Steven; Army sergeant; 22; New York; Dec. 20, 2002; enemy fire.
Frampton, Gregory M.; Army sergeant; 37; California; Jan. 30, 2003; helicopter crash.
Gibbons, Thomas J.; Army chief warrant officer; 31; Maryland; Jan. 30, 2003; helicopter crash.
Kisling, Daniel L. Jr.; Army staff sergeant; 31; Neosho, Mo.; Jan. 30, 2003; helicopter crash.
O'Steen, Mark S.; Army chief warrant officer; 43; Alabama; Jan. 30, 2003; helicopter crash.

Copyright © 2001-2003 United Press International

Thursday, February 06, 2003


The 101st Airborne Division has been ordered to deploy. I earlier read it would take a month to move the division overseas. Are we really going to wait a month or more? The Turkish decision to vote on February 18 on letting Americans into Turkey seems to back this as does the rumor that we want to wait until after Moslem pilgrims return from Saudi Arabia.

I keep approaching this from the point that it is better to go sooner than later. I know we can't go until the supplies and troops are in place, but I also think we have alerted far more than we need in order to make it look like a long pipeline stretching back to America has to flow completely to the Gulf before we go to war. We will go before all those troops are there.

To assume that we can go while pilgrims are still in Mecca is not too unreasonable. The Saudis tolerated throngs of Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War and did not hesitate to suppress riots with much bloodshed. For Turkey, we could be feinting a great deal and plan to fly in the 10th Mountain Division directly into those airbases we are setting up in Kurdish regions. After Turkey agrees to troops, we could flow troops in for occupation duty. Based on these objections alone, we could go soon after February 14th. But the 101st is a major problem for me. I've assumed we want this division for crossing the Euphrates and for its ability to jump long distances to outflank enemies. Going sooner would require us to leave the 101st behind. Could be, I suppose. I'd be surprised. But then, so too would the Iraqis.

On to Baghdad.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003


I thought I heard the French envoy at the UN say something really stupid, but I thought I must have heard him wrong. I didn't want to write it earlier since it was so ridiculous. But later I read he really did assert that the Iraqis should pass a law banning the development of weapons of mass destruction.

I have to wonder, are the French really that idiotic and fixated on their legal fetishism? Or are they so hateful that they would look us in the eye and suggest we should protect our people by trusting a scrap of paper from a rubber stamp parliament?

Or maybe they are just hopped up on cheap table wine and truffles.

Whatever. Today really was France's last chance to act like an ally. They've passed secrets to the Serbs and now they are a human shield for the Iraqis. At best they are a competitor right now, and we'd better start acting accordingly.

But the Sophisticated Know This Just Is Not Possible

It is not possible for secular Iraq to cooperate with Islamic fanatic al Qaeda, right? It is just silly to think two such opposite organizations could join forces and cooperate. I mean the very idea!

Apparently, it is not so far fetched. And the presentation by Secretary Powell bolstered both the case for this connection and the case regarding weapons of mass destruction. He devastated the idea that even more inspections can work to disarm Iraq. Now, the skeptics will begin weighing the denials of Saddam that he supports terrorism and that he pursues nuclear and other prohibited weapons against the evidence that has been public knowledge for a decade or more and the evidence Powell presented today.

The usual suspects will not be persuaded. They are not persuadable. We should now stop giving a damn what they think. We should rest at ease knowing we went far further than anybody else would in justifying before the world our intention to use our military to defend ourselves.

Oh my God, our friends the French are on. The esteemed French representative stated that Powell's presentation bolsters the case for further inspections! Tough that they are, they want expanded inspections. Richard Perle is right, France is no longer an ally (shoot, the case can be made that this has been true since 1799; only we haven't realized it through saving their butts through two world wars and the Cold War--notwithstanding the fear in Moscow of the vaunted Force de Frappe) If that SOB talks about a moral approach to Iraq as if France of all countries possesses that wisdom, I will truly throw a fit.

I swear, we should just close our embassy in Paris. They pine for the EU super state, so let's just move those diplomats to Brussels. I was going to resist, but I can't: damn those cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

But business before pleasure, as they say. Iraq is in further material breach of the UN resolutions requiring Iraqi disarmament. We need nothing further from the United Nations.

Stealth fighters are reportedly moving. Our planes are lifting ground forces at a rapid pace. Carriers and Marines are converging.

On to Baghdad.

And then, out of Paris.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Quite the Dilemma

An interesting article on Ivory Coast. The French had quite the choice: defend the sitting Marxist president who won election under dubious conditions; or support the rebels. They tried to split the difference based on their superior understanding of their crown jewel of west African ex-colonies and are getting burned. According to the article, "Philippe Moreau Defarges of the French Institute for International Relations, said, 'What is difficult is, we thought we understood this country. But we have discovered we do not understand this country.'" Neither side, apparently, appreciates the sophisticated nuances of French foreign policy. I hope they get their citizens out in one piece and don't get dragged into the middle of this fight.

I'm not by nature a cruel man, after all.

Oh, and apparently, our transport planes are surging.

Why We Should Fight Iraq: Part Two

So, it should be established the Saddam Hussein's Iraq is a horror show of torture and sheer terror domestically. His regime is aggressive with a record of attacking neighbors and targeting civilians. He has supported terror and instability (I know I failed to mention some specifics like killing dissidents overseas and his attempt to pollute the air and Gulf with burning/gushing oil, but these are just more details of his support of terror). Saddam has also been in single-minded pursuit of nuclear weapons; and has done whatever he has had to do to keep his stocks of germs and poison gas as well as means to deliver them.

His place on the Axis of Evil is secure. Even if Saddam ended all his weapons of mass destruction programs, he would not be demoted to the broader Pantheon of Evil that includes lesser threats who did not quite make the cut. By any measure, the demise of Saddam's regime should be an event to celebrate.

Of course, elevation to the Axis platform means he is a threat to us. And he is. With nukes, his ability to harm us expands exponentially. With every terrorist attack, coup attempt, destabilization, or invasion that he carries out, we will have to decide whether we wish to risk being on the receiving end of a nuclear weapon as the price of responding. Saddam, who has challenged us repeatedly despite our overwhelming conventional and nuclear superiority, clearly believes he can strike us without prompting nuclear retaliation if he keeps his actions under a certain threshold. Nukes in his possession raise that threshold. He could seize Kuwait again, enduring the casualties needed to overwhelm our tripwire force in Kuwait before we can respond (this is pre-2003, of course; and if we do not invade, post-2003). He could try again for Khuzestan in Iran, hoping the lack of Islamic fervor in Iran will this time lead the Iranians to figure losing a province is ok if the cost of retaking it is losing Tehran. He might foment a coup in the United Arab Emirates, or Bahrain, or Oman, or Qatar, or even Saudi Arabia and wangle an immediate "invitation" to defend the country. He might even go after the big prize of Saudi Arabia with conventional invasion if (and he will, because sanctions will weaken even further) he can rebuild his offensive arm. The Saudi military was weak in 1990. It is a joke today despite the money lavished on fancy hardware. Saddam could try to take down Jordan, hoping to use Jordan as a base to attack Israel and until he does so, rally the "street" to his pan-Arab banner. The large number of Palestinians in Jordan might welcome him. Their cheering of SCUDs flying over Jordan on the way to Israel in 1991 is not exactly comforting. Saddam could finally gain Baathist dominance over his Syrian Baath Party competitors and form an alliance with Damascus as the junior partner. Given Saddam's record of aggression, these are not far-fetched scenarios. And while we might tolerate such a madman in the middle of sub-Sahara Africa, one in the middle of the planet's energy storehouse is not something we can shrug off. Yes, of course, he would sell it to us. But at what price? Will our economies, upon which our well being rests, survive? And what will he use his income for? If you don't know, it is pointless to say.

One of the scarier possibilities is that Saddam could embark on a serious campaign of terror against the West, both in the Gulf and in Europe. The goal would be to drive us out of the Gulf, weaken European resolve even further and pry them away from America by showing them the price of siding with us, and raise his prestige to lead the Arab and wider Moslem worlds. He could do this even without resorting to nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. His possession of these would shield him from an effective American response. Would we invade Iraq over even hundreds of deaths over a year, scattered in the West? If we wanted to, who would risk 100,000 dead to avenge a hundred? We would certainly not nuke Iraq. Again, we'd place 100,000 or more at risk. And if we decided to launch cruise missiles, would Saddam care? He would ride it out, with anything valuable buried even deeper underground; and parade real or claimed civilian casualties to enrage the "street" while showing our inability to confront him effectively. Then of course, for sheer madman-level thuggery, he could elevate his spite from assassination attempts and environmental terrorism to real nuclear terrorism. Could he plant a false trail to blame somebody else? Shoot, he might steal somebody else's nuke and use it. Even if we suspected Saddam was behind it, how would we justify a nuclear response when the world won't even admit that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction today? If such a day ever arrives and we fail to respond in kind, deterrence is dead as a defense for us; and we will have declared open season on Americans everywhere.

Such an incitement to haters in the Islamic world is a real threat to us. Our inaction could lead to a clash of civilizations because the Islamists will conclude we are unable to resist. Europe is nearly at that stage already. Although a post-nuclear strike clash of civilizations is certainly not a sure thing, it is the logical--if extreme--conclusion of a trend line that starts with Saddam's mere survival. Has anyone noted that Saddam has for years relied increasingly on Islamic rhetoric to bolster his legitimacy? Has anyone noticed that after Bali, purported al Qaeda statements swore loyalty to Saddam? Even the French are worried that pro-Iraq cells are ready to strike in Europe when we invade? We too prepare to face fanatics who will delight in the death of even our children should we invade Iraq. The Islamists have chosen Saddam as their champion after the defeat and/or dismemberment of bin Laden. Saddam's survival is proof to them of their eventual victory. Destroying Saddam will destroy another champion and far from encouraging terror, will dull the appeal of terrorism to the Islamists and wannabee 9-11 types. It is one thing to die believing you will win in the end; it is another to die with defeat certain. America will build no memorials to terrorists to make their deaths seem heroic.

I suppose if you never thought that Iraq's conquest of Kuwait in 1990 was worth fighting to reverse, no possibility that Saddam will invade or take over another state in the future will convince you that we are right to invade now. What I could write to change your mind about that is beyond me. If you think we can deter Saddam from any adventures by threatening to nuke him and don't believe that instead we would be deterred, what more can I say? You are either far more ruthless than I am in your willingness to lob nukes at mere suspicion or hopelessly naïve. If you think the moral reason for removing a thug like Saddam is insufficient to go to war, who is evil enough? The bottom line is that threats to America take many forms and it has been a long time since we have been threatened with physical invasion and conquest. If that is your only standard for believing war is justified, that won't happen in our lifetimes.

Saddam is a threat to us and our allies, even those who would bury their heads in the sand and refuse to look. Failure to deal with Saddam while we can is a grave error. He will certainly deal with us when he is able. The track record of the international community does not give me hope that that day can be more than delayed. And for those still in doubt about his threat to us, would it actually be wrong to end his horrible regime?

On to Baghdad.

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Monday, February 03, 2003

Why We Should Fight Iraq

As we stand on the eve of war, I suppose I should set forth the reasons for war. Until now, it has been (or could be, that is) a full-time job responding to particular arguments against different objections to war. I think the case for war has been made in many ways, but I haven't set them out in one place.

So here goes.

The justification for war against Saddam's Iraq rests on three main pillars: his sheer wretched despotism; his record of aggression; and his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. And then there are the final multiplying factors. One is based on the idea that the bottom line value of all the above parts is greater than merely their sum. The other is the multiple based on the wealth that Saddam has to carry out his risky schemes.

Starting with his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, the Iran-Iraq War prompted Iraq's quest for weapons of mass destruction on an urgent basis. Saddam's need to find means to overcome Iranian numerical advantages on the battlefield and their frightening willingness to die led Saddam to pursue any weapon to kill Iranians. They electrified water barriers and in time, used chemical weapons. Saddam's use of poison gas in that war against Iranians and against Kurds is well-known. The Iraqis would boast of killing Iranians like insects and few observers of the war doubted Iraq would have used atomic weapons if Saddam had them. After his defeat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, in violation of agreements he made to end the war, Saddam continued to pursue chemical, biological, and nuclear arms. He has violated restrictions on missiles and has tested drones to spray chemicals or biological weapons. He has thwarted inspections designed to verify his compliance. He has cultivated allies to successfully undermine the sanctions that partially blunt his drive for nukes and bugs. He has repeatedly lied, stating he had ended all programs, only to have defectors reveal previously unknown programs. He has failed to account for known weapons and ingredients for weapons of mass destruction, implausibly arguing that he destroyed them in secret or-at least once recently-claiming that they were all destroyed in our 1998 air attacks! This single-minded devotion to obtaining such weapons is frightening. Or it should be. Worry about the state that wants 1,000 nukes. Fear the state that wants only one.

His record of aggression is impressive. Specifically, his first major act after seizing control of the government was to invade Iran in 1980. It is easy to ignore this given the odious nature of the Islamic regime that took power in Iran and held American hostage for more than 400 days, but Saddam's invasion had nothing to do with defending America or the Arab world from the tender mercies of the Iranian mullahs. Yes, Saddam did worry that Iranian incitement might prompt his own people to revolt, but in the end it was a land grab aimed at capturing oil-rich Iranian Khuzestan; a grab for dominance in the Gulf to replace the Shah's Iran; a grab for leadership in the Arab world, forfeited by Egypt for its peace deal with Israel; and a shot at dominating the nonaligned movement, with a victory paraded at the conference that Baghdad was scheduled to host in 1982. He survived the war yet did not demobilize after the war with Iran was over. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, of course, was a blatant land grab. He carted off the wealth of that state like an old-fashioned bank job. Saddam's willingness to kill civilians is clearly shown both in 1991 when he sent SCUD missiles against Israel and Saudi Arabia; but also in the 1980s during the war with Iran when Iraqi missiles and planes bombed civilian areas for the sole purpose of terrorizing civilians. Saddam's proxy war against Iranian-backed militants in Lebanon during the 1980s contributed to the sorry state of that country. In 1993, he tried to assassinate former President Bush. He massed troops on the border of Kuwait in 1994, apparently threatening another invasion. In 1996, we again had subtle indications he would invade. In 1996, he also attacked the Kurds. In 1999, he advised the Serbs on tactics to resist our air campaign. He has harbored terrorists. He has trained terrorists in aircraft hijacking techniques. He has paid suicide bombers' families in Israel. And there are indications that he is aiding al Qaeda remnants to set up a base in Kurdish areas of Iraq. The Iraqis have continued to issue threats against Kuwait, saying they "deserved" Iraq's invasion in 1990.

Saddam's enthusiasm for brutal oppression is horrifying. He has tortured and terrorized his population as demonstrated by Amnesty International in sickening detail. Rape, torture, murder, and fear are the tools he uses to keep his people in line. He has forced parents to send their children to para-military training to indoctrinate the children to die for him. And Saddam, though he has pauperized his own people who were once a bright hope in the Arab world, has not been content to brutalize his own people. Saddam's Iraq is still releasing prisoners from the Iran-Iraq war which ended in 1988 and has not accounted for hundreds of Kuwaitis and others seized in 1990. His brutality as an occupier was apparently so appealing that he had to bring some innocents back to Iraq to continue the horror. Indeed, Saddam may still be holding one of our pilots originally thought killed in the Persian Gulf War. His 1988 campaign against the Kurds after the war with Iran ended was brutal beyond description with mass casualties inflicted on the Kurds to terrorize them into submission. He has pursued weapons of mass destruction at the price of continued sanctions with no thought to the harm he has caused his people. Indeed, their suffering is a blessing to him that he parades to any fool who will listen and believe Saddam. Yet Saddam and his loyal minions suffer not a whit. Palaces Saddam has aplenty while his people suffer.

Tying it all together, and multiplying the effects of his depravity are the combination of all of them. Some say why attack a brutal dictator when there are other dictators, failing to note the extreme nature of Saddam's depravity. Some say why attack a nuclear aspirant when others want or have them, ignoring that Saddam has used whatever he has gotten and without conceding that someone so evil should probably not have such weapons. There really is a difference between the French having nukes and Saddam's Iraq having them. Some say he is no threat to us or our allies-at least not the greatest threat--or that we can contain him, ignoring that he has initiated two wars for glory and oil already, and has tried to exploit any weakness we might show to attack us, his own people, or his neighbors. The critics forget his ambitions for creating an Arab empire under his rule and bringing down the West that stands in the way of his path to personal glory. And those who object on these grounds fail to explain, even if they can find another state arguably worse (and if they do, Saddam's Iraq gives number one a run for the money), why one state can manage to at least place in the trifecta of brutality, aggression, and hunger for the worst weapons that exist. Nor do they account for the great wealth that allows him to pursue his dark visions of glory even in the face of sanctions.

His success in oppression allow him to mobilize available resources for his nuclear ambitions. His acquisition of nuclear weapons would increase his ability to successfully attack or blackmail his neighbors. His success in bullying his region and deterring us from helping our friends would reinforce his brutal rule at home, drying up hope in Iraq that Saddam might be defeated. Truly, Saddam cannot give up any of his evil and hope to live-or hope to build the foundation of a new empire.

The basic answer for why we must destroy Saddam Hussein's regime is that the ambitions of Saddam Hussein to dominate his region, the Arab world, and glorify his reign of terror are too dangerous to let stand. Normally, for some run-of-the-mill dictatorship, this type of megalomania is mildly annoying. But Saddam's Iraq has wealth and an educated slave labor force to make those dreams a concrete threat to us. His ruthlessness and willingness to kill to stay in power are not comforting signs for what he might do if he achieved his dreams. And if anybody thinks that Saddam does not dream of September 11s of his own making but on a scale that is unimaginable to us, they are fooling themselves. Saddam truly is that evil and hoping he is not is a risk that we should not take.

Take the bastard down soon. On to Baghdad.

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Sunday, February 02, 2003

First Infantry Division

I forgot to amplify on my point about the headquarters of the 1st ID going to Turkey. This headquarters plus support units could command combat brigades (1 or 2) shipped in to support a Turkish thrust into the Mosul area; while 10th Mountain Division would operate in Kurdish areas.


These two professors argue for continued containment of Iraq. Their arguments are simply wrong.

First, they seem to think two invasions by Iraq in a thirty-year rule is unremarkable. Nor is a thirty-year dictatorship itself disturbing, apparently.

They then excuse the Iran invasion by Saddam as a reasonable response to Iranian provocation and threats to Iraq yet fail to give us the same benefit of the doubt as we consider what to do. They also note the war did blunt Iran's regional ambitions. This certainly excuses our reluctant aid to Iraq in the 1980s, but fails to note that the war was also meant to cement Iraq's leadership of the Arab world with Egypt still a pariah; cement its role as paramount power in the Gulf with Iran in chaos; and cement Iraq's leadership of the Third World with Baghdad's hosting of the Nonaligned Movement's conference in Iraq in 1982 only two years away. Iraq also hoped to snatch Iran's oil province of Khuzestan. Iraq had ambitions completely separate from advancing our interest in halting Iran or their worry about regime survival in the face of Khomeini's Islamic appeal. Saddam had clear visions of glory and territory motivating him when he invaded Iran.

The invasion of Kuwait seems to be excused as the reasonable response to a dispute over oil prices and war debts, ignoring that Kuwait loaned Iraq money for the war and that driving down oil prices had been effective in drying up Iranian revenue, which helped Iraq win in the first place. And the authors say that we "signaled" Iraq that the invasion would be fine with us? Our ambassador made some ill-advised comments and Saddam took that as a green light? Did Saddam think our reflagging of Kuwaiti tankers in the Iran-Iraq War indicated out lack of interest in Kuwait? Did our last minute naval exercise indicate nothing? Did the parade of Arab leaders urging Saddam to back off mean nothing? The words of one minor ambassador convinced Iraq that they could take over? Saddam clearly needed little persuasion from anybody else that he could get away with taking over Kuwait. That seems to undermine their argument for containment.

So in claiming that we never tried to contain Iraq in 1990, and noting that Iraq only invaded Iran because Iran appeared weak, the authors are saying that at the first sign of weakness, Iraq will strike. If an enemy/target ever lets down their guard for a moment, Saddam would attack. Well, that is comforting. Our presence in Saudi Arabia is annoying enough to the Islamists and we are to keep our forces present there to deter Iraq for how long?

And the authors dismiss the threat of Iraq's poison gas and potential nukes and bio weapons. They argue that Iraq's past use of chemicals against their enemies, foreign and domestic, "tells us nothing" about whether they would use them against us. Wow. Past use may not prove they will use them but it sure as heck tells us they are willing to use them if they think they can get away with it and it will help them. Somehow, the notion that he would only use chemicals against those helpless to retaliate in kind is reassuring to the authors. It is not. And the notion is false. Iran used chemical weapons too, although not in the same volume. The professors should note that the Iraqis used chemicals to counter Iran's ground advantage in numbers and fervor. I dare say Saddam feels he needs something to counter our ground superiority.

And Saddam's belief that we are far less able to accept casualties argues that he would accept limited American retaliation in order to kill a lot of Americans. This reasoning also shows that blackmail really could work against us. Also, if the fingerprints of a strike on one of our cities weren't clear, would we really retaliate against Iraq? And if the Iraqis struck our military forces in the area-needed to contain Iraq-how would we retaliate? We would clearly want to strike a military target in response. But what if the Iraqis hugged their cities to make us kill civilians in order to nuke a military target? Would we still do it? I'd rather not place us in the position of needing to slaughter civilians to maintain deterrence. And if we did not strike, who would ever be deterred again? How is wanting to pre-empt such an outcome an inferior strategy?

As for the comparison with North Korea, why does treating two states differently offend them? Even though they quote Rice from some years ago saying Iraq could not blackmail us, that doesn't mean she was right then; and she certainly doesn't think so now. Nor should public statements by the Bush administration that North Korea cannot blackmail us be taken at face value. What would the authors expect us to say? With our humanitarian interests, we are blackmailable. Shoot, we have difficulty even killing too many of the enemy when we fight! Do the authors really think we can't be blackmailed when we care more for Iraq's civilians than Saddam does?

They also belittle the Iraq-al Qaeda connection, bringing up the old argument that a secular regime could not cooperate with an Islamic movement. I guess I only thought America and Saudi Arabia have joined forces for decades. The authors ignore what has gone on and the power of a common enemy-America-to unite our enemies. They also think Iraq would be deterred if they think we might respond should we think Saddam gave bio weapons to terrorists to use against us. Given Saddam's track record in 1990, do the authors really think that he rationally calculates? If he believes his will to win is stronger, he will believe we won't retaliate against an indirect attack. Or he may think he is untraceable-as he might be.

Their arguments that Saddam is farther away from nukes now than in the past may or may not be true. What is undeniable, however, is that Saddam has considered it worthwhile to endure crippling sanctions that make his people suffer to keep the nuclear path going-no matter how slowly. And we can't ignore the breakout option if he can buy or steal nuclear materials. I won't take that chance.

The authors argue that negotiating with North Korea while obliterating Saddam sends the signal that states must get nukes. Reality Alert! They already believe this. And we are only in the early stages of confronting North Korea's nukes. I should think that the proper lesson of "containing" North Korea since at least the 1994 agreement should be that even slowing North Korea down did not stop them from getting nukes.

Their argument that war will be expensive is not an argument. Given that so many against the war decry the lack of "sacrifice" by the American people, you'd think they'd welcome a real cost. What will the cost of a nuclear strike on New York be? Or "just" a chemical or bio strike? Far greater than the cost of 9-11, I dare say.

As for our being isolated. Hogwash. Again, if destroying Saddam is in our national interest, why should we care? No doubt thug regimes the world over who wish us ill will continue to oppose us, but I can live with their opposition. And the world is coming over to us. In fact, we will have plenty of support.

Their final argument that destroying Iraq will divert us from defeating terrorism is so ridiculous that I don't even really feel up to it. But just this shall suffice. Even if it has taken intelligence resources from the terrorism fight, and I doubt it, that "diversion" will end after we nail Baghdad. And if we contain Iraq for decades more, won't we need to commit our intelligence assets to watching Iraq? Now that is a long term diversion, if you ask me. All the more reason to take care of Iraq fast. Our conventional power, which is barely engaged in the war on terror, is hardly being diverted. The authors also bring up the strange notion that victory will encourage our enemies when we can see from the past that victory encourages collaboration with the victors. Pinpricks that do not defeat will encourage enemies. Decimating enemies creates people who have been with us all along. I dare say the lesson to states that support of terrorists can earn you the attention of our conventional forces will have a cleansing effect on terror sponsors the world over.

The authors' faith in our allies' willingness to contain Iraq given their quick exit from containment over the past decade is based on ignoring evidence and counting on wishes. Their faith in our ability to contain Iraq with the evidence of North Korea's willingness to starve millions of their own people to death in order to finance nukes is amazing. Saddam will endure the feeble sanctions to fund nuke work. He will get them if he lives, or if his sons live (another lesson from North Korea), and he will use them. I will draw little comfort if we then kill millions of Iraqis in retaliation.

In the end, only regime change can effectively disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and end Saddam's threat to us. Iraq under Saddam even with no WMD is a threat to us and a continuing death sentence to Iraqis. Even France with nukes is no threat to us or its own people.

On to Baghdad.

Latest Invasion Story

This story indicates that we are assuming victory and planning for the post-war planning before the victory is cemented on the battlefield. One Army heavy division, 3rd Infantry Division, British forces, and a larger Marine Expeditionary Force will attack from Kuwait; while 4th ID leads a force from Turkey to invade from the north. Special forces, Rangers, the 82nd and 101st will have special missions scattering units all around Iraq, seizing strategic targets and capturing airfields. The ground forces will be preceded by perhaps a week of air attacks, the article says.

This doesn't make sense to me.

Why do we have six brigades of heavy equipment in Kuwait? Why would the 82nd Airborne be diverted from covering Afghanistan? What about the Army and Marine equipment stored in Jordan? What about our obvious preparations in Kurdish areas? Why would headquarters elements of 1st ID go to Turkey if 4th ID is going there? Why isn't 10th Mountain mentioned?

The good news is that the Iraqis aren't redeploying their ground troops. I never thought it wise for them to put their regulars in the cities where they would be more likely to defect when in good defensive positions to resist the Republican Guard enforcers and where they would be more vulnerable to pleas from civilians to change sides. More surprising is that even Republican Guards apparently aren't being put in cities. Even these units must not be trusted enough to take a chance. Of course, if Saddam believes invasion is far off, he wouldn't want to put units in the cities until the eve of the offensive to guard against the possibility of revolts and the declaration of 'free zones."

To me, an armored thrust into the north where all the Iraqi army is located does not make sense. Why wade into the middle of the largest grouping of regulars when we want to preserve the army for post-war constabulary duties (after proper vetting and supervision, of course)? A northern front makes sense if we send 10th Mountain into the Kurdish areas to take on the al Qaeda thugs who have taken up residence and to bolster Kurds with special forces and air power for a drive south.

Where I God, 3rd ID would secretly redeploy to the west to strike into western Iraq and spearhead the drive on Baghdad from the west. They'd link up with Marines and Army troops coming out of Jordan and linking up with 101st AB flying directly into Iraqi airfields captured by special forces and Rangers and conventional forces. Perhaps a heavy Army division, a Marine Expeditionary Force, and the British will grab Basra and then drive north. This would seem to place them in harm's way if the Iraqis douse the road north with gas but maybe they can move fast enough. Or maybe the Army will go west of the Euphrates, leaving the Marines and British to feint north and exploit any collapse of the Iraqis.

And I'd prefer to send 4th ID to the Pacific just in case Pyongyang gets weird.

As for the week-long air offensive, I think ground and air will go all at once. Defectors want to see American uniforms before they switch and we need to get the forces moving to avoid chemical strikes. Just sitting in their bases where the Iraqis can easily target them makes no sense. Nor does it make sense if the invasion concept is regime takedown. We need speed to overwhelm them and keep them from enacting a scorched earth policy.

I guess I'm starting to really feel the invasion is quite near as opposed to guessing/projecting when I'd go. No more than a couple weeks at this point.

On to Baghdad.

Saturday, February 01, 2003


Carter doesn't think President Bush has made a case that Iraq is a threat to America. On a day that we lost seven astronauts, I have no tolerance for that idiot Carter's opinion on anything. He had no idea how to defend American interests and protect us when he was president and he has learned nothing in the years since then. I know I am in no mood to rationally deal with his views, but I have no respect for him. Zero. His Nobel Peace Prize was given to him by foreigners who prize his anti-Americanism over everything else and Carter clutches it as his most prized possession. Why he doesn't just renounce his citizenship and make his hatred for America formal is beyond me.

February 2003 Posts

One day I hope to finish moving posts from my original site here. But I stalled out after coyping and pasting 7 months of posts in February 2003, after a dozen posts that month. So as a stopgap, let me post to the undead archives of the gap months.

Here is February 2003.