Conduct of the war

By Doug Casey

The U.S. hasn’t divulged any of its attack plans so far, but it’s a safe assumption it will be similar to the drill last time around: Massive air attack, followed by armored assault, combined with Special Ops excursions. Then, presumably, the U.S. will push on and capture Baghdad and the other major cities, in order to install a puppet.

What will the Iraqis do? Well, they won’t do what they did the last time, which is dig their army into the desert, and wait to be plastered by U.S. air forces. My guess is that they’ll meld the army into the population of the cities, so the Americans will both take heavy casualties, and kill more innocent civilians than would otherwise be the case.

Well, there’s no doubt the U.S. will destroy the Iraqi military – it’s just a question of time, money and casualties. Some better questions are: Will the Iraqi military desert en masse, or will they put up a real fight once they’re in the cities? Sure Saddam is a sociopath, and a lot of Iraqis would love to see him dead. But that was true of Hitler too, and the Germans kept fighting until resistance was impossible. And the friends, sons and younger brothers of the estimated 150,000 Iraqis we killed in the last war may be interested in a payback. My guess is that Iraqi soldiers will prove less likely to desert this time, for those reasons, and the fact they’ll be defending their cities.

What proportion of the world’s 1 billion Muslims, many of whom are young, unmarried males – notoriously the most dangerous creatures that have ever walked the face of the earth, including the T-Rex – will take it personally? Especially since most are both poor, and take their religion seriously. I think Bush should christen (an unfortunate choice of words, perhaps) his invasion “Operation Creation of Millions of New al-Qaida Supporters.”

Since the Bush regime has successfully, and idiotically, transformed Saddam from just another thug running just another nothing-nowhere country into an icon that must be replaced, Saddam now has literally nothing to lose. Will he, therefore, try something really nasty and memorable, something that would have been out of the question had not Bush backed him into a corner?

Assuming the invasion must now occur so the dim Baby Bush can save face, what might be the best way to proceed? Well, this war, like the last one, really must be about oil. So I’d quickly capture the oilfields before they could be destroyed, and basically do nothing, except grant Saddam and his pals a pass into a luxurious retirement in a country that would have them. Capture of the oil fields would starve the Iraqi government of cash to do anything at all. Everyone would try to cut a deal to save his own skin, and its collapse would be inevitable and quick. Limited casualties, limited costs, and we get to steal a bunch of oil. The downside, however, is minimal “military glory,” and less moral righteousness than the Baby Bushites may be able to abide.

It seems to me, as an aside, that most of the people plumping for the war are in no danger of having to fight in it – even if fighting just means pushing a button. I still advocate a cage fight to the death between Bush and Saddam, and as many of their subordinates as have the nerve to do it. It would be the biggest grossing event in world history. But it would never happen, because the participants would chicken out. (Incidentally, Iraqi vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan proposed a duel between Bush and Saddam, to be held at a neutral site, with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan presiding as referee.)

The consequences

“Alright, Casey,” you may be saying, “stop being such a spoilsport. Sure, invading Iraq has problems. But look at the bright side: We get rid of Saddam.”

My response is that there’s no more “need” to get rid of Saddam than there is to get rid of any of about 50 world leaders in his class. But what happens after he’s gone? Iraq was cobbled together, as a British mandate, from pieces of the Ottoman Empire after it collapsed following World War I. I haven’t been there yet, but my understanding is there are three dominant groups within the Iraqi state, basically the majority Sunnis, the minority Shiites and the Kurds.

The Shiites are supposedly aligned with Iran – they’re unlikely to get what they want, since the U.S. doesn’t want to feed power to the Evil Iranians in any way. The Kurds have wanted their own state for centuries, but they’re not going to get it because that would destabilize the Kurdish areas of Eastern Turkey, and Turkey is the main U.S. ally in the region.

So the U.S. will have to choose some thug to hold the country together. He’s certain to be viewed (correctly) as a U.S. puppet, especially since U.S. troops will be there maintaining him. It’s entirely possible there will be several wars of secession, or possibly a civil war, as different groups fight for power. I pity the poor U.S. grunt who has to figure out who to shoot at.