I heard an interesting theory lately, and thought it raised a good point for debate.
To even get to that point, you have to be willing to accept that Saddam Hussein wants the US to invade Iraq, preferably with as few coalition partners as possible. That, in a sense, he is egging us on.
Why would he possibly want that? He surely knows we would kick his ass, right?
Well, the theory goes that if/when the US invades, Saddam is confident that he can hold onto the regime long enough to significantly bloody our nose. At that point, the CNN broadcasts of US soldiers coming home in body bags will reduce the will of the American people to topple his regime. At that point, his stature among both Muslims and Arabs will be dramatically improved, as he will have shown the guts to stand up to the “great satan” and even repel their invasion. He will be a hero (at least, to them).
With the war protests already being as large as they are, and the fact that the war hasn’t even started yet, combined with our Vietnam experience, suggests that this scenario can’t be immediately dismissed.
So, the problem is, this theory actually seems plausible to me? Is it?
If there is any validity to this theory, the best news that comes out of it is that while Saddam would kill as many invading US soldiers that he could, as well as anyone else who gets in the way, he would be much less likely to bring terror to the US mainland, as that would only strengthen the resolve of the American people to overthrow, even at extreme costs.
While I don’t have a cite readily available, it seems to me that, historically, public support for war is traditionally highest just before the war starts. And it declines from there. If that is true, shouldn’t even the hawks be a bit concerned from the lack of consensus on the need for war? That is, even if you think we are wholly justified and that invastion is the right course of action, doesn’t it give you pause that the fickle American public may not be behind you?
[Cafe Society Note] This scenario is eerily similar to the theme currently developing on The West Wing. But I don’t think the theory I heard had anything to do with that. Just coincidence, I suspect.[/Cafe Society Note]
I feel compelled to point out that the press is rigidly controlled in Iraq, and in almost all Arab nations. Saddam won’t need a favourable outcome of the invasion to be hailed as a hero; all he has to do is survive and the controlled Arab press will spin mightily to fabricate his sainthood.
Fact is, his is a policy of delay, delay, delay. Everything is an exercise in mollification; giving up just enough to deflate the enthusiasm of his opponents until their attention is distracted by something else. If he can hang on until November 2004, Bush II will be gone in favour of a Democrat, and Saddam will get at least another four years before having to deal with the Americans again.
Saddam is not that smart, and is notoriously a really bad stratigic military planner. Sincere doubts in your argument.
Though I do hear the three large cargo ships from Iraq getting more and more credibility. And if Saddam did put some of his arms on those ships that may have been an ok move. But then again now they are just sitting targets.
That was theory and it is a good one … in theory. He wants another vietnam. Unfortunately
*he aint no Ho Chi Minh.
the Iraqi people are not going to do what the vietcong did and its pretty damn hard to hide in the sand.
*There is no country to give him anything but moral support, like vietnam had china and the soviet union.
*He doesnt trust his military leaders and there might be a good reason for that.
*The north vietnamese were fighting for freedom and independence, something Saddam denies his own people.
*A similar news article mention the bloody aftermath of Mogadeishu, Somalia. I saw the movie (reportedly an accurate depiction) It was 5000 Somalians vs 150 US Soldiers. Yeah 18 US soldiers died and 78 were wounded, the dead and wounded Somalians were numbered in the thousands. And this was an unsuccessfull mission…?
Iraq is not going to be another Vietnam, its going to be another Afghanistan. They will surround the enemy, localize them and then kill them. Anyone not willing to get shot or bombed, do not shoot at anyone or anything and leave the area.
Saddam Hussein and George HW Bush are oldtime friends and business partners. Both Bush Jr. and Saddam are evil dictators whose power is slipping, so they both need each other to consolidate their power. Saddam’s political enemies are the Shiites and the Kurds. In Gulf War I, most of the Iraqi casualties were Shiite conscripts. And after the cease fire, the US encouraged the Shiites and Kurds to rise up against Saddam, but watched as the Iraqis slaughtered the Shiites using US-supplied helicopters and pilots that were trained in Florida. Thus we wiped out Saddam’s opposition for him. Pretty clever trick if you ask me. In return for this favor, the Saddam allowed the US to import about 2,000 Iraqi POWs who settled in Nebraska and Oklahoma City, where they helped McVeigh blow up the federal building, ensuring the passage of repressive legislation (1996 omnibus crime bill), just like the US military’s anthrax attacks against prominent democrats ensured the passage of the USA PATRIOT act. What horrible act of terrorism will the US government carry out against its own people to justify the passage of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003?
Saddam definately does NOT want war. His whole strategy has been to give in juuuuuust enough to defuse the momentum for war. Given a full scale American invasion, he is a dead man and he knows it. There is no way that he can survive an American assault. He can’t go undercover and lead a guerrilla force like Osam bin Laden, since the minute his secret police no longer control Iraq there is no reason for Iraqis to obey him. Guerrilla commanders inspire their armies in vastly different ways than totalitarian dictators do.
Look at the difference between Iraq and Vietnam. In Vietnam US troops could move anywhere, attack any enemy strongpoint and defend any friendly strongpoint. It didn’t work because US troops could only hold the ground they actually occupied, the enemy learned not to concentrate their forces and not to directly attack US forces. When they tried attacks they got severely beaten, as in the Tet Offensive. And the Vietnamese has many safe areas that for political reasons the US was unable to touch, and were supplied by the Russians, which the US was unable to stop due to fear of nuclear escalation.
But Saddam can’t use the same strategy. US troops can prevent his dictatorship from functioning. He can’t hide out in the countryside, since US troops can hit him anywhere in the country. He has no outside supply. He can’t trust irregular jihadis, since they are just as likely to fight his forces as the US. Without money from oil and control over the populace’s daily food rations he has no base of support. His army is useless since any concentration can be destroyed by the US. His secret police is useless if the population can be protected by the US. He has no popular ideology that will motivate the population.
His war strategy is not to actually win the war, he knows that is impossible. It is to make the war so costly to the US that they decide not to start the war. So he promises thousands of casualties, and a Samson in the Temple style destruction of Iraq’s oil wells. But once the war actually starts Saddam is finished.
Now, this isn’t to say that a popular movement akin to the Viet Cong couldn’t arise after the US invasion, and eventually cause tremendous pain to US forces, and turn the US population against the war and force US withdrawl. That is quite possible. But it won’t save Saddam’s regime, and so it is only interesting to him if it prevents the invasion before it starts.
Like Kim Il Jung, I don’t understand why he’s being such a dumbass. If he simply came out in the open and destroyed all his remaining WMD and did everything to please us, there’s no way we’d get the political support to take him out then, and he wouldn’t face a serious military threat from anyone. He could probably even get tons of humanitarian and development aid. Either he’s nuts (which is a strong possibility), ultra-paranoid (another strong one), or there’s something about his regime that I’m not fully aware of, wherein he’d be in serious danger of coup if was seen “backing down” like that.
Bryan, perhaps you have complete insight into the mind and motivations of Saddam. I’m certainly not confident I do.
Do you see evidence that Saddam’s strategy is “delay, delay, delay”?
Wouldn’t one think that he wouldn’t do ANYTHING that may likely expedite the war, if that were the case? Like, for example, shooting at coalition aircraft patroling the no-fly zone? Or using extreme rhetoric about the destruction he will cause if he is attacked?
You may be right, but what evidence do you point to that suggests that your analysis is more likely than the theory I proposed?
And finally, my other question, do you believe the US hawks ought to consider the level of public support as a criteria for supporting action, when it is clear that the end objective could be jeopardized by a sudden shift in sentiment?
Underestimating your enemy is not wise.
With all due respect, you and DDG may take your cargo ship discussion elsewhere, unless you can connect it to my OP.
Alot of the rest of the responses describe how Iraq is different from Vietnam. I get that. Point taken. On the other hand…
I have no doubt that the US will start with prolonged aerial assaults before the first ground troops go in. I also have no doubt that the US could secure all of Iraq, except Baghdad, very quickly (probably before the aerial assaults are done, sooner if we wanted). But Baghdad could be a different story. And without taking Baghdad, we will not have toppled the regime.
Sure, we could lay seige to the city, and strangle it. That will take alot of time, which only creates the opportunity for support here at home to dwindle.
Urban assault on Baghdad will be very costly, in terms of US soldiers and Iraqi civilians, not to mention Iraqi military. Would it shock anyone if the US public’s will to pay the price will signficantly diminish?
Oh, and one other argument the hawks seem to use in both directions - the Iraqi people want to be liberated, or Iraq’s control of the local media has brainwashed the people into believe the US is the great satan. While I suppose both could be true, it seems unlikely.
Like a plan to use WoMD against US troops in Kuwait as soon as the first bomb drops in Baghdad, and expect the US public to waver. Does everyone REALLY BELIEVE this couldn’t happen?
The extreme rhetoric about the destruction he will cause is designed to make us afraid to start the war. Even if we think we will win the fight, we might not want to start it if we think we are going to get hurt too badly while winning.
Once the war begins, a “sudden” shift in sentiment isn’t going to stop the war. Only a prolonged and pervasive shift in sentiment. Sure, public support could dip. But if support dips in the middle of the offensive that just means the administration is going to be that much more determined to win the war quickly. Retreat once the war has started would be a disaster for Bush. Win and you’re a hero, even if the public didn’t support the war at first. Lose, and you’re a goat, even if the public cheered at the start. Lack of public support will only become an issue if people are able to put pressure on congress. If congress turns against the war then the president will eventually have to retreat.
Why “prolonged”? The bombing phase will have to be over in weeks, not months. Plus the objectives are different this time…we aren’t interested in destroying the Iraqi army, we will be trying to decapitate the Iraqi army. Maybe instead of “prolonged” we should say “intense”.
But why would Baghdad be the worst point? Even if it were very difficult, which it may or may not be. Look, unless Saddam can control the country, his regime IS toppled. If he is confined to Baghdad he can’t control the country. He can’t control the oil wells, and therefore the wealth that is needed to control Iraq. Without Saddam pulling the strings, the Iraqi military can’t function.
Why the dichotomy? We can cordon off the city, but allow civilians and disarmed soldiers to leave. If the US controls the rest of the country, and Saddam is holed up in some bunker, I can’t imagine Iraqi conscripts having much fighting spirit. If they think Saddam is going to win, then yes they will fight. But even with Saddam’s propaganda, too many people were in the first Gulf War. If Iraqi soldiers are convinced the US will win the war, then they will simply surrender, or hunker down and try to keep out of the way. Expect lots of “sorry…bzzzz…we seem to have some trouble with the radio…bzzz…we didn’t get that last order…bzzzt…we’ve lost you…”
Why can’t the average Iraqi hate both Saddam AND the US? It seems plausible to me. They have no reason to love the US after the first Gulf War and years of sanctions. And they have no reason to love Saddam, after 20 years of dictatorship, the Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf War, and years of sanctions. I know plenty of Americans who loathe George Bush with every fiber of their being, but also loathe Osama bin Laden.
The most likely scenario is that Saddam could try to use chemical weapons against an invading US army. But chemical weapons are that great of a threat against a modern mobile army. Our troops are much much better prepared for the chemical battlefield than Iraqi troops, to say nothing of Iraqi civilians. The way to think of chemical weapons is as an instant temporary minefield. Any troops entering the contaminated area will have to take precautions, slowing and blunting their attack. But it won’t stop our airplanes, helicopters, tanks, artillery, or mechanized infantry, they can just bypass the contaminated area. And of course, any use of chemical weapons against American troops would be a propaganda coup for us…“Look what that bad man did!”
Saddam, IMO, is looking to, as LEMUR suggested, do just what is necessary to keep a real ground force from entering his country… Until later in the year that is… Why? Because the Iraqi desert gets damn hot after March or April, when the temps can reach into the high 80’s, making the wearing of NBC suits difficult and dangerous. Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for him, we’ve got all of the necessary technology to effectively fight at night, so while his strategery may be headed in the right direction, we can cut him off at the pass with technology.
Also IMO, he’d likely destroy major portions of his own civilian infrastructure, and with journalists flooding the country, he’d blame the destruction on invading forces, giving the US all the negative press it can stand, remember, he knows how to deal with and use the media, he’s got experience.
He’s not going to use nukes, even if he has them, there’s a great stretch of space between crazy and stupid.
He’ll use chem-bio, no problem, which in turn would allow us to pursue a scorched earth policy for Iraq, meanwhile killing many, many Iraqi civilians, as is the danger of a war like that. Personally, as horrible as it seems, I don’t believe I’d lose any sleep over it, at least not as much as I lost on Sept. 12th. anyway.
Saddam, like many of the knuckleheads over there, are a quietly effervescing threat. It’s getting hotter over there, the world is getting increasingly more violent and the putrid stink of Islamic terror is filling the air. Despite the things our government may or may not have done, there is not now, nor has there ever been an excuse for the terror that has been brought to our shores. Moreover, we pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to prevent Saddam and people like him from being a threat to our way of life, that we have worked so dilligently to create.
We’ve left it up to the sovereign people of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Bosnia to rise up against tyrants and megalomaniacs and dictators, they haven’t. We will. And if a few (thousand) people are killed in the process, it will be the fault of the dictator, not the liberator.
And yes, because we have the most, we get to have the most say in how we’re going to protect ourselves. Money, not ideology, not conjecture, not hope, love, or even truth rule the world.
Money does. The rest of the world may abhor the concept, but they’re right there with us when push comes to shove. Just ask Turkey, 26 billion dollars is their price tag for room and board while we slap Saddam around, they see the game for what it is. War my ass, American. Show me the money…
As previously pointed out Iraq and Vietnam are two completely different subjects. LBJ said in a taped phone call that a Vietnamese soldier would sit in a cold wet hole for days just waiting for an opportunity. In 1991, the Iraqi soldiers couldn’t throw their guns down fast enough.
Well you are in bad need of a cite, because in WWII everyone and their brother was against the war, until Pearl Harbor. Then the war started and everyone was behind it.
Did they bring in Susan Sarandon to guest star in that episode?
[ul]:dubious: [sup]mystic2311 you spend your weekends out in the woods on maneuvers, right?[/sup][/ul]
“In 1991, the Iraqi soldiers couldn’t throw their guns down fast enough.”
That’s because they were all Shiite transcripts. The Shiites hate Saddam. It was like hippies getting drafted and fighting in Vietnam. They didn’t want to fight for Nixon. They wanted to fight against him.Didn’t you guys read my post? It wasn’t whooshing or whatever. It’s all true. Iraqi troops were all trying to surrender because they hate Saddam. Too bad the americans didn’t speak Arabic and just massacred them all.
I strongly doubt that. I think those comments were intended more to play internally, attempting to shore up support and morale among Iraqi troops. But it certainly is a form of brinksmanship, and can hardly see how it supports a strategy of “delay, delay, delay”.
And I accept “intense” instead of “prolonged”, meaning perhaps a few weeks, not months. But during that time, concentration of ground troops waiting to deploy will be particularly vulnerable.
In a sense, we already control alot of Iraq. The northern and southern no-fly zones are unlikely to be difficult to take. The only challenge will be Baghdad. And as long as Saddam can still command Republican Guard troops in the city, we will not be able to “control” the country.
Certainly, the Iraqi regulars and conscripts aren’t likely to put up much resistance. But underestimating the resolve in the Republican Guard sounds pretty dangerous to me. Remember, we barely engaged these troops in the Gulf War, as they we’re held back close to Baghdad.
I you believe the Iraqi civilians in Baghdad will be waving American flags as our troops roll in, I’d like to understand why. While I don’t expect them to pick up arms to defend Saddam, they are certainly likely to see us conquerors and not liberators.
I’m a bit stunned reading that. Since no one seems to make the case that Iraq is (as opposed to may) an imminent threat to US civilians, it seems that one of our justifications is to prevent the use of these weapons against Iraq’s neighbors and their own civilians. Funny how we just assume our actions will cause exactly what we say we want to avoid.
Interesting shift there, away from what you do know about the threat of Iraq, and over to what we know about Osama Bin Laden. Problem is, this war is likely increase these threats, not decrease them. Or do you see Iraq and Saddam as Al Queda’s primary supplier of terror weapons (like they really needed them 9-11). This is simply warmongering, in the worst possible way.
What about China, North Korea, and Cuba? I have no problem with playing the role of world policeman, and “liberate” all these suffering souls, but only if the world wants us to play that role. Otherwise, it will be pretty hard to tell the difference between dictators.
Aw, finally, a moral justification for war. And a new foreign policy. Why don’t we just go buy some more allies?
Alright, I’ll back off my original statement. And if we have another Pearl Harbor (if Iraq attacks first), I have no doubt that the world will be fully behind us to go in and take him out.
See if you disagree with this statement: If the US suffers significant casualties (like 10,000 plus troops), and the conflict bogs down on the outskirts of Baghdad, where it looks like many more troops will be at risk going door-to-door, the will of the American public will falter.
And also note my earlier distinction between Iraqi regulars and the Republican Guard.
Others: I understand that few feelt this is a likely or plausible scenario. What is the chance that Saddam perceives this as a possible “winning” scenario?
Well let’s take a break and look at reality for a moment.
Saddam Hussain- Makes vague attempts to appease the United States. Does not openly and threatening display his nuclear aspirations. Is about to have his country invaded and likely faces assasination
Kim Jong Il- Pretty open about pocessing nukes. Calls US yankee pigs. Laughs when we ask to even talk to him. Laughs out loud when we ask him to disarm. Does not face having his country invaded. Does not face assasination[/ul]