Iraq using WMDs against US troops

So the U.S. and GB (and maybe some other countries) send over many thousands of ground troops to Iraq, and we basically invade. Baghdad, here we come.

Saddam sees this, and true to his bombastic threats over the last several months, he pulls out the weapons of mass destruction that most people know that he has hidden away from inspectors’ eyes. Our troops are exposed to some form of WMD - mustard gas, bio-weapons, small nukes, whatever he may have.

Saddamn comes through on his promise to smash the infidels at the gates of his empire, or whatever idiotic medieval rhetoric he uses.

At this point, does the global community say “Well, DANGED! He DID have those WMDs all the time! We should have supported the U.S. and Great Britain!”.

Or do they say “Well, the U.S. and Great Britain are getting what they deserve - Iraq is simply defending itself with all means at its disposal.”.

I’m just wondering how all of this will play out if Saddamn pulls out the very WMDs that he’s been insisting that he does not have, and then uses them against our troops in front of the world to see.

We’re not sending in our troops to flush out his WMDs, are we?

Actually, the conclusion doesn’t follow. If Sadaam (a) has, and (b) is willing to use, if invaded WMDs, the invading him is a very stupid idea, unless either your objective is to expose your troops to weapons of mass destruction, or you have some different objective which you consider to be so important that it justifies exposing your troops to weapons of mass destruction.

Hence for most countries not supporting the US and Great Britain, the obvious response would be “Well, DANGED! He DID have those WMDs all the time! We were right not to have supported the U.S. and Great Britain!”

In short, if the US really beleives that Sadaam has and is willing to use WMDs, it should adopt the same strategy with respect to him as it does with respect to North Korea. Invasion is not a rational choice.

It is likely that the only WMD’s Iraq has on hand ( as opposed to being accused of developing ) is some easily synthesized chemical agents that are difficult to apply properly on a modern, fast-moving battlefield ( as opposed to being dumped on static defenses manned by infantry as was usually the case in the Iran-Iraq War ), are less of a threat to a forearmed first-world combatant, and aren’t terribly decisive against even a third-world nation.

It might be pretty hairy and scary for individual soldiers that come up against the stuff, but I doubt it would cause enormous amounts of damage.

  • Tamerlane

Er, if he uses tactical nukes, the UN would beat the living fark out of him. He isn’t SUPPOSED to have them, and that is the entire reason the UN is staying out. The best proof they could have would be them being used, and thus, instantly violating every law he is hiding behind.

As Pravda said about Osama’s threats giving the US more justification to attack Iraq, Saddam doing that nixes every hope he has of coming out of it at all.

Further, the US would immediately play the guilt card on the UN for not being effective and allowing Saddam to develop these weapons. The UN wouldn’t have diddly to say back.

It is in the best interests of EVERYONE involved for WMDs to not be used, except maybe as a last-resort device for Saddam (though in doing so, he damns everyone standing with him).

If Saddam actually has a nuke and used it then the world community will jump behind the US. A nuke is also the only really useful WMD in this case.

If Saddam uses biological weapons the world community will jump behing the US. Biological weapons though aren’t all that decisive and they can be just as dangerous to those using them as those they are used against (i.e. his own soldiers could easily get sick).

If Saddam uses chemical weapons I doubt anyone will be surprised and I doubt the world will change its opinion at all if they see their use. Also, as Tamerlane said, chemical weapons just aren’t all that effective. There biggest effect is likely psychological as death via such a weapon is pretty nasty and might rattle the cage of US soldiers (not that getting shot isn’t nasty but something about things like nerve gas seem worse).

FYI, one of the US generals from the 1991 Gulf War said that if Saddam had used chemical/biological waepons back then, the allies planned to blow up a dam as to flood Baghdad with 6 feet of water. After the war they realised that this would’ve caused huge civillian casualties so it was a good thing Saddam didn’t use them back then.

Are you suggesting this didn’t occur to them the moment the idea was floated but ratehr took them a few months to figure out? I’ll grant the military and bureaucratic mind are different creatures than what most people are used to but still…seems blindingly obvious to me.

So it’s implicit in your answer that the rest of the world feels like the objective isn’t so important as to justify exposing troops to weapons of mass destruction, without consideration of what the objective is.

What if the objective is to prevent his using weapons of mass destruction in the future?

It’s implicit in the OP that the objective is that important, again without consideration of what the objective is.

I’m kind of assuming that the objective is to prevent (or minimise the chances of) their being used at all.

Be that as it may, I don’t see that use now is necessarily better than use in the future, and certainly not that the likelihood of their use now is any better than the possibility of their use in the future.


Ah, politics!

Nuclear: Saddam almost certainly doesn’t have a proper nuclear bomb, at most he has a radiologic bomb. This is a very ineffective weapon against mobile soldiers, since the purpose is to contaminate an area and force an evacuation. Short term exposure by armored troops wouldn’t be very dangerous. If Saddam actually used a nuclear warhead, even France and Germany would find themselves on board to get rid of him.

Biological: While Saddam almost certainly has some form of biological weapons, they won’t be very useful on the battlefield. Biological weapons are primarily terrorist weapons used to strike at civilians. Not that they couldn’t be used against soldiers, but on the time scale of a likely US invasion the war would be over before our soldiers started to get sick. And using biological weapons against an invading army is a dangerous proposition, since your own population is likely to be infected also. Our troops are much better protected than Iraqi soldiers or civilians. If biological weapons were used they would cause vastly more casualties for Iraq than they would for the US.

Chemical: Again, it is almost certain that Saddam has chemical weapons, and it would therefore be very likely that he has some form of delivery system for them. But again, our troops are prepared and trained for chemical warfare. Chemical weapons should mostly be thought of as a temporary minefield. Any troops entering the contaminated zone will have to be very careful to avoid casualties, and therefore will be slowed down. Since the US battle plan will rely on speed, this could be a problem. But again, use of chemical weapons would probably cause many more casualties on the Iraqi side than the US side. Iraqi soldiers won’t be as well equiped or trained against chemical weapons, and there will likely be Iraqi civilians any place that Saddam might want to use them. Massive gas attacks that kill thousands of Iraqi civilians merely to slow down the attacking forces seems pretty disproportionate. But Saddam is capable of anything.

The trouble with using any of these weapons is that they don’t really stand much chance of stopping the invasion. Threatening to use them might forestall an invasion, but once the invasion actually starts using them doesn’t help much. Saddam holding his own population hostage might deter an invasion, but once the invasion is underway actually carrying out the massacres wouldn’t be helpful. Sort of a game of chicken. Saddam threatens to destroy Iraq if we invade, but if we invade anyway there’s no point in destroying Iraq.

If memory serves (no cites, sorry) Iraq did not use WMDs last time around because they were explicitly warned that any such use would result in massive nuclear retaliation. Saddam may not care, but each one of his subalterns in the chain will have to similarly not care for WMD to be used.

Iraq used gas in the Iran-Iraq war.