Iraqi Invasion: What's the rush? (Muscular Disarmament)

…or, give the peaceniks a chance.

Last fall (and more recently) The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace put forward a plan designed to avert war in Iraq. I call the policy “Muscular Disarmament”: it involves an expansion of inspections, with military force used in the (inevitable) event of Iraqi noncompliance. Yes, this involves ground troops.

Link page:

The 6-point plan involves.

  1. Assign the most experienced people to UNSCOM, regardless of geographic diversity considerations or Iraqi objections.

  2. Get the U2s flying. (Done, as of recently, IIRC).

  3. “Enforce “no-fly” and “no-drive” zones. The cat-and-mouse game can be largely ended and the odds of success tipped decisively in the inspectors’ favor by giving them several additional powers. These measures should begin with expanding the existing authority to stop Iraqi helicopters and planes from flying and military vehicles from driving in broad regions designated by the inspectors. Violators would be subject to destruction.”

  4. Destroy any site being sanitized.

  5. “Don’t let lethal items slip away. If inspectors on the ground find lethal items being moved – warheads, for example, or a mobile biolab – and cannot stop it, they should be able to direct air strikes to destroy it.”

  6. Put troops on the ground. If inspectors with these new powers find that they still need additional ground support in order to operate effectively far from Baghdad, the U.N. should be prepared to put bases on the ground.


  1. Iraq stays in a box. Although it can continue to hide weapons, development of WMD stops. “Thus, while there may be legitimate concerns about the ability of the inspection regime to discover hidden caches of weapons, there should be no doubt about its ability to prevent militarily significant industrial production.” (From Iraq: What Next, pdf file)

  2. We avoid war and the costs of reconstruction.

  3. “We have been at this – trying inspections and containment – for 12 years. A policy of determined patience for another 12 months seems a reasonable price when weighed against the unknowable human, political and economic costs of war. If the coercive inspections fail, war would be necessary.”

  4. Most importantly (to me) this policy has the best chance of maintaining a broad coalition against emerging WMD and terror threats. It’s not like Saddam is the only bad guy in the world. De facto preemption may be an appropriate response to the relentlessly declining costs of destruction and mayhem. However, over the long run it is probably most advisable to conduct such a policy with the broadest possible international consensus. Delay of hostilities for one year would be an important step towards building and reinforcing such a consensus.


  1. Iraqis have to endure another year of sanctions.

  2. Or more.

  3. And they have to endure a Saddam regime, followed by a Qusayy regime.

  4. And no democratization (but less uncertainty).

  5. Pollack cautions us against falling into an “Inspections trap”. I’ll elaborate on this (read: try to remember the argument) if I feel like it.

  6. The stock market will have to deal with another year of delay. [Life goes on.]

  7. Business uncertainty stays for another year, postponing an investment recovery. [Hey, it’s a new world.]

  8. Oh yeah. I’m not a military analyst, so it is not clear to me whether the Carnegie plan turns allied troops into sitting ducks for the Republican Guards or whether they have addressed that.

Substantiated comments are welcome. Try not to argue from your gut. We know what your gut looks like.

Terrific. The “I” in “Iraqi” got cut off.

Well, I’d like to take some time to read your links before commenting, flowbark, but here, since it seems apropros, is some evidence that the American public might be predisposed to welcome such an alternative:

[hijack]Frankly I think that George W. Bush is just going to prolong this ordeal to the next election–that’s how he won the midterms you know;). Has nothing to do with you OP I know, but I have been waiting for the longest time to say that–sorry:).[/hijack] I personally consider myself a pragmatist pacifist. But I see no practical advantage to this war. In fact many of Pres. Bush’s charges against Iraq go back to the 1990s, don’t they? For my part, I am more concerned with Korea. :slight_smile:

“First we are going to cut it off, and then we are going to kill it.” – General Colin Powell

Clearly the flowbark strategy consists of first cutting off the enemy’s capital.

The “I” in “Iraqi” has been restored.

That’s what a lot of us peaceniks, people as well as Govts want. I like to think of it as a “Boiling the Frog” strategy. Force concession after concession until Saddams position becomes untenable. With armies at his throat now, Saddam seems willing to make any concession, even if they have to be dragged out of him, as the alternative is the end of him.

tagos, I think it’s only fair to concede that Saddam is cagey and will probably draw out the process of making concessions for as long as possible. But I think that the kind of multilateral and peaceful approach to disarmament could be made to work, and in a way that sets a very good precedent for post-9/11 US foreign policy. I see no other drawbacks to this plan, flowbark, that aren’t more than outweighed by the drawbacks of the war on the terms now being contemplated.

What is with all of the bending over backwards to keep Saddam in power? Your plan is a defacto invasion, but without the assured result that a US invasion would have.

For what it is worth, the U-2’s are not flying. Iraq is adding preconditions to their usage.

The only way this would work would be if the invasion force was in the area putting pressure on Iraq to cooperate. Iraq is a huge place and finding a destroying all the WMD without the cooperation of the Iraqi’s government could take years. The cost in dollars and lives would be astronomical. Iraq would have to agree to this occupation which seems unlikely. These inspectors would be vulnerable to being taken hostage as the peacekeepers in the Balkans were. At the end of how ever many years it took, the same government is still intact and free to rebuild their weapons programs as soon as the inspectors leave.

puddlegum, your analysis would make sense of disarming Iraq were the only obstacle to continued world peace and an end to terrorism. But that is very far from the case. In the long term and in the big picture the problem the world faces today is far-flung terrorist threats, particularly in the context of militant Islamic fundamentalism, in an unstable Middle East region in which tensions are constantly heightened by the Palestinian/Israeli situation. The truth of the matter is that disarmament of Iraq, desirable though that end surely is, is not in itself going to solve any of those problems; while depending on how such disarmement occurs, those problems can easily be exacerbated. Simply put, war will make the region more unstable and war against Iraq–as Osama himself has told us (assuming it is Osama)–will only fuel the fires of fundamentalist-based terrorism.

I don’t for a second believe that even the most muscular disarmament process, if it is committed to averting war, won’t drag on for as long as Saddam can manage it, and involve much cat and mouse. However, I do believe that the process is possible and also that as it evolves, the threat Iraq poses can be effectively contained.

In addition, that is the position favored by the majority of the world: including some of our most important allies in Europe. It is the position of the majority of people in England, despite Blair’s harder stance. And it is also a position, that as the poll I posted earlier suggests, a majority of Americans is moving towards, at least for some period of time, or until key allies change their minds.

I think the Bush administration deserves credit for keeping Saddam’s feet to the fire. The threat of force has been and will continue to be essential to improving the situation in Iraq. But the rush to war in the absence of consensus is entirely counterproductive. There the Bush administration ceases to be strategic, and becomes instead driven by the most hawkish ideologies and, perhaps, also the perception that war is politically advantageous to the Republicans.

As to the costs involved, I challenge you to provide any credible evidence to show that a protracted disarmament process will cost more than the costs of invading Iraq and then occupying it until such time as the region is stable enough for such occupation to end. And I challenge you to say how the theoretical possibility of peacekeepers becoming hostages trumps the certainty that soldiers and civilians will die in any war that takes place.

Fisking the Carnegie Endowment Proposal.

Actually, we do not know that Saddam will give up his WMDs in any circumstances at all.

Contrary to the implication above, Bush and the UK have said over and over that they are prepared to attack Iraq without UN authorization.

It’s more likely that cooperation will engender more cooperation. Especially, after we actually display the huge stores of WMDs. At that point, doves will be embarassed and hawks will be vindicated.

A failure to make war engenders these same risks; it delays the time to a point where Iraq might finally have nukes, making the risk much greater.

We have already seen that the risk of a multinational military did not lead Iraq to disarm. Why would Iraq cooperate and disarm under the Carnegie proposal?

It’s dubious that this could be done within the UN structure. There’s too much politics there.

Of course we should. And, Iraq’s failure to let them fly violates UNR 1441. Why would Iraq obey now?

3. Enforce “no-fly” and “no-drive” zones…by strengthening the American and British air forces that currently patrol no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, and broadening their composition to include forces from other countries.

Will Iraq agree to this? Even if they do, they are apt to withdraw their agreement sooner or later, based on past practice. Then we’ll be back to today’s situation, except that Iraq will have more WMDs by then.

Actually Blix’s dispute with Powell shows that its not clear which sites should be destroyed. The UN would not destroy controversial site.

By “best possible” intelligence, Carnegie means intelligence that can discern almost all of Iraqs WMD work. There’s no evidence that such a level of intelligence is possible.

This entire proposal has a basic contradiction. We would need a level of intrusiveness that locates and destroys pretty much all of Iraq’s WMDs. For 12 years, Saddam has shown that he will not give up his WMDs under any threat. Also, given the nature of his regime, there’s no way that he would allow this level of intrusiveness.

The Carnegie proposal is dangerous. If it were tried, it would probably muddle along ineffectively, without preventing Iraq from continuing their store of WMDs. This is the worst of possibilities.

The arms buildup currently around Iraq has taken months and involves hundreds of thousands of soldiers. The only way for inspections to have a remote chance of working is for the troops to stay there indefinetly. Absent that the US will have to mobilize everytime Saddam decides not to cooperate with the inspectors.
If the troops stay there indefinetly they will be prime targets for terrorism such as the Khobar towers bomb. Also hundreds of thousands of US soldiers in Muslim countries will inflame the region just as the US bases in Saudi after the Gulf War did. At the end of the inspections Saddam is still in power and a hero to arabs for backing down the infidels.
War obviously will be costly but at the end you have a disarmed Iraq and a much safer world. At the end of “muscular” inspections you have high costs and no improvement in the situation.

I love it when people trivialize economic issues. Especially since solving just about every other issue requires a strong economy.

“We would need a level of intrusiveness that locates and destroys pretty much all of Iraq’s WMDs. For 12 years, Saddam has shown that he will not give up his WMDs under any threat.”
No. For 7 years Saddam, under threat of military action, allowed an inspections regime which destroyed vast quantities of WMD. This basic fact is, for some reason, completely ignored when people dismiss past inspections as a failure. By 1998 Saddam was less dangerous than in 1991; in particular his nuclear facilities were pretty much all destroyed.

There is no reason why you can’t have an even tougher inspections regime which is even more successful in find and destroying WMD.

“A failure to make war engenders these same risks;…”
Um this is pure nonsense; how does a failure to make war have the same costs of reconstructing post-war Iraq for instance?
One important point is that even a successful invasion doesn’t guarantee disarmament in any meaningful sense. The fact is that Saddam is in control of the weapons now and the US has no clue where they are hidden. Even if the invasion is successful there is a huge gap between the time the war begins and the time the US manages to locate all the weapons sites. In that period Saddam and his die-hard followers could either use the weapons or give them to terrorists. Even after the regime falls, the weapons could easily be stolen or sold into the black market.

The hawks demand 100% disarmament from any inspection regime but never explain how invasion is going to result in 100% disarmament or even something close to it. In all likelihood invasion increases the chances of weapons falling into the wrong hands.

Why put off war when you know that the only way to get the desired end is through war? When you come to that realization, you go to war when you are ready. Not when third parties or the opposition is.

As CyberPundit so succinctly put, Saddam is in control of his weapons. To take the ability for him to control said weapons away is not by looking for the weapons and destroying them as you fin d them. He just gets more that he can control until we are able to find them again. A catch 22.

However, if you take Saddam out of the picture then that stops that specific problem. We are talking about the ones that he controls. We are not going to war because Saddam has given weapons to terroists. We are going because we think he can and probably will. If he gives some to terrorists before we are able to stop him, does not negate the value of us stopping him from ever being able to do it again.

You have to remember that the stance on Saddam is no longer containment as it has been for the past 12 years. They do not feel that containment is viable through any means that anyone has come up with. So they say that the only reasonable way to contain Saddam is through his removal from power. From their POV war is the only alternative. So why wait?

But not invading does not decrease the chances of weapons falling into the wrong hands. And the administration has stated that the status quo is not longer acceptable. There are too many unanswered questions that Saddam has refused to answer, and that inspectors are , self admittedly, unable to answer. And once Saddam is no longer in control of those weapons, it does decrease the chances.

There is no evidence that Saddam either has given or intends to give WMD to terrorists and he has possessed such weapons for 20 years. He has excellent reasons to not do this: not only the fear of American retaliation if caught (and maybe if just suspected) but his own fear of losing control of such weapons to terrorists who generally hate his regime.

Sure there is still a small possibility that he will try to give these weapons to terrorists if not invaded but with invasion there is a certainty that he will do so. Trading a possibility of WMD transfer for a certainty is not a good exchange.

“And once Saddam is no longer in control of those weapons, it does decrease the chances.”
No. The only worse thing than Saddam being in control of the weapons is no one being in control. At least Saddam is identifiable and deterrable. If his regime loses control of the weapons, every rogue element,smuggler and terrorist in Iraq will have a shot at grabbing those weapons and selling them or using them. Since the US doesn’t know where they are they will likely succeed at grabbing many of them before the US can control all the bio/chem weapons in Iraq.

. “He just gets more that he can control until we are able to find them again”
See that’s the thing. With potentially thousands of inspectors running all over the place it will be difficult for him to make bio/chem weapons in large quantities. And if past experience is any guide they will manage to destroy large quantities of weapons. So even if Saddam can build some weapons it’s unlikely to be more than those being destroyed. He will gradually be disarmed. Above all he will be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons which are the only WMD that really matter.

“And the administration has stated that the status quo is not longer acceptable”
Well if inspectors are expanded and backed by U2 flights, troops etc. it won’t be the status quo.

It would indeed be a challenge to keep up the credible threat of force, but certainly not one beyond the ablities and inclinations of the Bush administration.

There are doubtless many options besides a permanently mobilized forced (which I think is unlikely not least because I’ve read that troops don’t really stay battle-ready once they’ve been deployed for a period of time.) Perhaps there would at some point be the need for a second mobilization–perhaps even for a war. But it’s illogical to conclude that one must rush into war simply b/c if one doesn’t one might have to make othe difficult choices.

As to troops creating resentment, so will a war! You seem to want it all one way: with all the economic costs, the “blowback,” and the risk to human life glaringly evident when you consider alternatives to war, but with a rose-tinted view of war itself as the one neat and clean solution. As I indicated above, solution to what?

Oh come on. Did you read what you wrote? Having thousands of inspectors “running all over the place” is viable in your world? And this would be indefinate?

What makes you think that no one would have control of said weapons if Sadam is gone? Do you not think we would put every ounce of pressure on those that know to tell us once we have somewhat of a control in the government?

Look, if you have a guy that has guns stashed in a prison, you put a stop to that individual. You do not let him continue doing what he is doing because there is a possibility we may not find some weapons and they may fall into prisoners hands. You take out the possible source, and then you deal with the ramaining leftovers if such were to happen.

And it is status quo. More of the same is just more of the same. If we put a division of inspectors in his country for a decade, Sadam still has the means to produce WMD or attain them if that is his desire. he can make a backdoor deal with NK and tell them to hold them until he can find a safe place to stash them. There are anti-western “patriots” all over the region in different countries that would take a couple hundred thousand USD to let Sadam run a Bio/Chem lab on thier property that is way out in BFE. That is containment, to an extent, sure. But Bush said that containment is no longer an option. The “possibility” that you are so flippant about is enough or a danger to the American people that it is onerous to the government to take action. They do their best to take out that “possibility”, and then do even better to take out your “certainty” scenario.

“Do you not think we would put every ounce of pressure on those that know to tell us once we have somewhat of a control in the government?”
How does the US government even know who these people are? Once the regime falls all those weapons sites would be controlled by dozens of different middle level Iraqis whose identity would largely be unknown. I think it’s quite likely that Saddam will move his weapons and place them in the control of his most die-hard followers who would refuse to co-operate with the US even after defeat. They would lie low and at a suitable moment sell or give those weapons to terrorists to cause maximum damage to the US.

Sure the US will try to hunt them down but by the time the weapons sites are found their contents may well have been sold or stolen. The US has very little knowlege about where these weapons are kept. It will have a very hard time disarming Iraq and it’s almost certain that it won’t be completely successful.

Your prison analogy doesn’t work because we are talking about weapons that could potentially kill tens of thousands of people. One of the big rationales of the war is supposed to be to prevent terrorists from acquiring those weapons. The problem is that there is no way that US forces can prevent Saddam from passing those weapons to terrorists or hunt them all down after the war. This defeats the purpose of war and leaves American security worse than before because the terrorists and rogue elements who will now have the weapons are much tougher to deter than Saddam.