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Time for Plan B


A short recap: after a week of war, the Pentagon's plans have come undone. Bombing Baghdad has had no visible effect on Iraq's regime. Saddam is still on the air. (One anonymous official has described "Shock and Awe" as "Air Force bull___." Now he tells us.) There are no great masses of enemy POWs. The rush to Baghdad hasn't caused the foe to quail -- if anything, Iraqi fighters have thrown themselves at our forces with fanatic, even suicidal ferocity. The Republican Guard, having weathered our air attacks under cover of a sandstorm, awaits.

Now what?

Unfortunately, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, with his supposedly extensive list of things that could go wrong, does not appear to have planned this far. This is a scandal. The U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, our main fighting force, now faces the Medina Division of the Republican Guard near Karbala. In its hurry to arrive with intimidating speed, the 3rd ID appears to have gotten ahead of its lines of communication. Its men are no doubt exhausted from covering 75 miles a day for five days, pressing through a sandstorm, and fending off a headlong attack by Iraqi forces around Najaf. Not enough supplies, rest, or sleep is a formula for disaster in the face of Iraq's relatively untouched elite troops, who have been sitting, waiting for their arrival, and may be armed with chemical or biological weapons. Even if they win the coming fight decisively, they'll be up against three more Republican Guard divisions and a capital city swarming with militia.

Once more: this is a scandal. America's military machine is now inches from a genuine debacle in Iraq. It remains avoidable. But Iraq never should have had a chance against the armed might of the United States. Our warleaders' blinkered pursuit of a half-baked theory about the softness of the Iraqi regime has seriously hurt our readiness and ability to win the war. Saddam's ultimate support is his fighting forces. The Pentagon's transparent attempt to psych them out rather than take them on and defeat them in detail has only signalled our reluctance to fight, and strengthened their resolve. As the old Turkish saying has it, the one that bites is the one that doesn't bark.

All the timeless cliches come rushing back. Hope is not a plan. No plan survives contact with the enemy. The enemy has a vote. Occasionally, it becomes necessary to consider the adversary.

What did Rumsfeld forget to put on his list? Here are a few ideas:

  • The regime might not crumble. It might survive everything we throw at it, like a king on a chessboard that outlasts all the other pieces on its side. (Conquering Iraq and its cities is materially different from driving Iraqi armies out of Kuwait.)

  • The Iraqis might fight hard. (An enemy with his back to the wall has nothing to lose.)

  • US air power might have difficulty degrading enemy forces in the field (just like in Kosovo).

  • Our forces might be worn down by Iraqi militia before they met up with the main enemy forces.

  • Even the new chem-bio protective suits may not be sufficient against the enemy arsenal. (We may yet find out.)

    At this point, it couldn't hurt to slow down a little, reassess the situation, wait for the U.S. reinforcements already en route to arrive, and slowly, slowly tighten the noose around Baghdad. In other words, it might be wiser to settle in for a longer fight than originally planned. The question is, does Rumsfeld know when to back down from a bad risk?

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    Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000047.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

    by Editor @ 07:26 AM CST [Link]


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    Replies: 6 comments

    Yeah, the Republican Guard is really ready, and tough. Every time they engage Coalition forces, they die. Every time the militia charges toward Coalition positions, they die. At this rate, Coalition forces might not have to move another kilometer to achieve victory. Your assessment is as thought-provoking as the t.v. soundbites and video images from which they stem. Kosovo? Yeah, we saw how well that worked for Milosovic.

    Posted by Fred @ 03/29/2003 01:42 AM CST

    Here we are the US an overwhelming military power but we do things like leave our fighting men & women short of supplies (one food ration a day!) and equipment is also running out. Rumsfeld overruled the Pentagon on the # of troops, would not take advice to delay until Turkey could be secured..see the Washington Post today on the New Yorker story.
    Save us from political 'soldiers' like Rumsfeld who make political decisions with our armed forces lives. Just like what happened in Vietnam.

    Posted by Karen @ 03/30/2003 04:07 AM CST

    what goes around comes around. . .

    And as for not supporting our troops (US), hasnt our government just shown that they dont by cutting Veteran benefits ? Turn off MTV folks and listen up !

    Posted by Amy @ 03/30/2003 07:57 PM CST

    Iraqi regime is crumbling.

    Baath Party Iraqis fight hard, but die anyway.

    U.S. air power has no problem desimating Baath Party forces at will.

    Coalition forces are not worn down at all as evidenced by material gains every day.

    CBW suits untested - still a question mark.

    Posted by Fred @ 04/02/2003 09:00 PM CST

    Fred, go back to CNN, their biased BS reporting has sucked you in 100%. Iraqi's are dying in hordes and not a single YANK has been hit, yeah right, dream on. As for the US troops being so great, well they aren't. They just have huge amounts of people who are so specifically specialized that by taking out 2 of them you can stop an entire company. They have fancy equipment and that's about it. The US military should go back to the basics and learn how to fight. The real fighting will start when they possesion of all of Iraq. Remember Vietnam? Welcome to part 2. Hard to tell who's enemy and who isn't when they are all in civilian clothing. I'm expecting to see some of the nasties Guerrilla fighting ever seen. Of course the US Government will refer to this as "Terrorism", even though they are the invading force. They'll be too busy trying to explain while no WMD's were found and how to get the oil pumps running without the entire world seeing their pilaging of Iraq. It should be quite interesting. The Morales of the US Government is dying as quickly as their deficit is growing. I guess desperate times mean desperate measures and they sure are proving that. Well at least they be morally broke at the same time they are financially broke. The fall of the US empire is here and is it ever funny to watch. The people are so brain washed they are totally missing it. Just tune to CNN and keep watching. Life will pass you all by.

    Posted by Wolf @ 04/02/2003 09:11 PM CST

    Spoken like a true 60's flower child. Wolf, it's 2003, not 1973. I don't watch CNN, but I'm sure they're reporting that the war is a complete disaster for Coalition forces. BTW, I didn't know the US had an empire. Please enlighten me.

    Posted by Wolf @ 04/03/2003 03:08 AM CST

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