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Not to continue harping on the War Topic...(28 posts)

Not to continue harping on the War Topic...Wayne
Jan 24, 2003 6:24 AM
but I've noticed that it seems like Bush et al. keep changing the bar. At first it was no WMD with an emphasis on nuclear, then it went to chemical/biological, as of the last couple of days they are simply saying Iraq must disarm. It's as if, the justifications for war keeps changing so that no matter what, Bush will get us into a war.
Again tell me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the Iraqi army largely destroyed in the Gulf war, and hasn't the subsequent embargo made it difficult for them to rebuild stuff like tanks/aircrafts that would be necessary for an offensive war?

There's a state of the union address coming up, right? I hope Bush articulates why this war is necessary, and what's going to happen if we send in troops and oust Saddam. I also saw an interview with the Iraqi foriegn minister and he made it plain that the Iraqi's will not make the same mistake as last time and try to fight us in the open. They will retreat into the cities where our advantages will be lest significant. Bush senior, gave avoiding fighting in the cities (b/c of anticipated high casualties for our troops and Iraqi civilians) as one of the reasons for not finishing the job last time.
I'll answer two pointssn69
Jan 24, 2003 7:06 AM
1. No, the Iraqi army was not destroyed in the last war. Their Navy was demolished, and most of their Air Force fled to Iran...who promptly "procured" the aircraft for themselves. Their conscript divisions were largely destroyed as were their standard armor divisions. The bulk of the Republican Guard, however, remained, albeit badly damaged by the Desert Shield bombing campaign. Today, Iraq has 45 total army divisions. That's a helluva lot (even by our standards), and they've replaced a fair percentage of the heavy armor that we destroyed. The key issue, however, is the percentage of Republican Guard versus conscripts. The former are well-trained and well-supplied, but the later are largely used as first-line fodder. Bottom line? Iraq still has a robust military capability. Incidentally, in the playbook of WMDs, there's little difference granted between nukes, biological or chemical weapons. They all kill indiscriminantly and indefinitely.

2. Bush Sr. didn't engage beyond the 110th hour because of fears of coalition in-fighting and regional destabilization. Various pundits (including his own) have cited issues and concerns like MOUT (urban combat), logistical constraints, mandates, etc. Still, the real reason was that the coalition didn't have a unified vision on what should have been done and there was a lot of concern that it would turn into a regional free-for-all if we took out the Iraqi central government. Again, that's said in historical context...hindsight is always 20/20. Also, the destruction of the retreating Iraqi elements on Highway 1 really bothered the national command authority. No matter how we are characterized, the military is still human and we honestly do seek to minimize killing whenever we can. Does that sound odd? It probably should, but it's true nonetheless.

The Iraqis did, in fact, learn some things in the last war. They learned that the best T-72 and T-80 tanks were no match whatsoever for the M1 Abrams. We're now two generations further along in tank design, and the Abrams is THAT MUCH better now. They also learned that our counter artillery capabilities were far beyond what they imagined. They lobbed a slavo of rounds at us, and our counter-battery fire would typically destroy their individual artillery pieces with one round. They also learned that, when faced with an enemy of overwhelming capability, they could achieve good stalling tactics by lighting the oil wells. I don't think the American public still understands how devastating that was to the local ecosystem or how many of our resources were tapped to stop the devastation. ...And, yes, they learned that a face to face confrontation with us was/is foolish.

I think the largest concern within DOD is the one Stormin' Norman had...that they will engage us with their conscript troops and then fire salvoes of chem, nuke or bio weapons at us. Urban combat? Yeah, that's scary too, but not as much as the first scenario. In spite of the advances of technology and our supierior training, it still comes down to one Marine or soldier with a rifle trying to kill the other guy. Doing it in an urban environment is harder.

What they don't know is how our capabilities have grown. They don't know the degree to which our troops currently train for MOUT operations thanks to the lessons we learned in Somalia. They don't fully understand the C4I real-time capabilities that we've developed since then. And, they don't fully understand the robotics developments we've made. Finally, the opposition within Iraq is far more robust today than it was 12 years ago. Perhaps that's what this is really all about...we draw his attention to the front while he prepares for a war while the opposition sneaks up from behind to whack him with a big mallet on his noodle.....
some predictionsDougSloan
Jan 24, 2003 7:12 AM
Good points.

My bet is that they don't engage at all in the desert. They wait in Bagdad, and turn this into a nasty urban brawl, hiding amongst civilians and in holy buildings, then play to the media and sympathizers how we are killing children and destroying holy places. That's what they should do, if they learned anything the last time.

Doug
Yeah, but don't forget...retro
Jan 24, 2003 9:11 AM
...that we WILL be killing children and destroying holy places. Whether a war is justifed in your eyes or not, if the fighting goes into the cities, civilian casualties are inevitable. I was an Army medic in Vietnam during the Tet offensive in 1968, and I treated far more wounded civilians than U.S. military. Just because our government won't talk about it doesn't mean it's not happening.
Actually the MOUT reason Bush Senior gave...Wayne
Jan 24, 2003 7:49 AM
came from his mouth in the interview, the reasons he outlined for not going into Baghdad the first time were:
1) We did not have support from the international community to do so.
2) MOUT b/c of our troop and civilian casualties.
3) The arab world would not have accepted the US occupying an arab nation's capital.

If anything 1 & 3 are more true today than then, I have no ability to assess number 2 but you seem to indicate maybe it would not be so bad?

I think your final assessment in some sense is the right one, we're trying to force a coup or something like it, but you can only bluff so long before you get backed into the corner of acting. Everything I've seen indicates that the reason Saddam has survived so long is that he has an extremely effective security force which suggests to me the only way to really get rid of him may be sending our troops into Baghdad. Even if a coup is desired and we get it, who's to say the next guy won't be cut out of the same mold?
Actually the MOUT reason Bush Senior gave...sn69
Jan 24, 2003 8:12 AM
Regarding "the next guy...," what a mine field! We have a dismal record of installing new regimes short of the Marshall and MacAuthur Plans. That's a tough one, to be sure, and far beyond my meager, pitiful intellect. Also, one MUST be sensitive to the vast cultural differences between us and them. You also have to take into account religious differences between the three dominant Muslim sects, the cutlural differences between Semitical Arabs, Mediterranian Muslims, Kurds, Persian Mulsims, etc.... Good grief.

Regarding urban combat, I'm not convinced that it will be easier per say. Rather, I think that we--DOD--are better prepared for it than in recent years. Our dominance of air space, sea space and open field combat is assured and has been for a long time. The urban arena presents new challenges, and Mogadishu reminded the right people about that. As a result, the Army, Marines and SOCOM have devoted a great deal of time and resources towards that arena, and the Chair Force and Navy Air have worked hard to develop supporting tactics. Still, it's a tough environment to fight in, particularly when we know the enemy will use civilians as shields. Also, the American public largely lives in a utopian fantasy world of sterile combat where smart munitions and unmanned vehicles do most of the dirty work. Reality is far different. I wish that everyone appreciated the real nature of what has been happening in Afghanistan. Simply, war is grizzly business where you've got to shoot and kill the other guy first. OldEd can remember Hue, and the rest of us can remember Somalia. We're better prepared for urban warfare, but we'll still take casualties.....
I have no ability to assess...Wayne
Jan 24, 2003 8:44 AM
whether or not the Iraqi troops vs. our troops in Baghdad or elsewhere could become a drawn out affair with alot of casualties but I don't think the american people will stand for any kind of drawn out fighting with a significant number of casualties. As you suggest there is now a sanitized view of modern day warfare, and if it gets ugly support will erode quickly b/c there is far from any kind of consensus that this war NEEDS to happen.
sn69 - thanks for yet another informative post nmPdxMark
Jan 24, 2003 10:07 AM
oh, why not...DougSloan
Jan 24, 2003 7:08 AM
Tell me, what exactly is the objection to going to war with Iraq? I haven't heard anyone really articulate it, other than to throw some personal attacks at Bush. Can anyone list the objections?

Doug
#1. People will diemohair_chair
Jan 24, 2003 7:11 AM
That's kind of objectionable, don't you think? Our people, their people.
how many?DougSloan
Jan 24, 2003 7:13 AM
How is that compared to the numbers that will die if we don't do it?

How many on either side are we talking about?

Doug
what's the count so far?mohair_chair
Jan 24, 2003 7:40 AM
By that logic, we should conquer the whole world right now.
By that logic, we should have conquered Iraq ten years ago.

Let's get real. In the current "conflict," how many have already died because we haven't gone to war yet?

I'm no pacifist, but Bush gets even more desperate to justify going to war every day. It's beyond idiotic at this point.

I don't even believe he started this whole thing with the intention of actually going to war. I still believe it is a huge show of force intended to back Saddam up against the wall and force changes without bloodshed. Words are useless. A couple of carriers in the Gulf is no big deal. But a couple of army and marine divisions on the border, a few air wings, and a hospital ship is serious stuff.

The problem is that all these fools with a thirst for blood are making it hard. It's like the crowd shouting "Jump!" at the guy out on the ledge who just wants attention.
I tend to agreeDougSloan
Jan 24, 2003 7:47 AM
I do agree that war is not a fait accompli, and that the primary goal is to oust Saddam without a war. For that to work, Bush could never admit it, of course.

Doug
that's just itmohair_chair
Jan 24, 2003 8:01 AM
Rather than stick with a consistent and cohesive message that most people can get behind, he keeps changing it, which makes him look foolish and blood thirsty. But then, maybe that's the point.

Nixon had his "Madman Theory", where he wanted the North Vietnamese to think he had reached the point where he might do anything to stop the war. Sure enough, he expanded the war dramatically, and North Vietnam eventually agreed to peace talks. I think Bush is playing the same game, except his active war is going on somewhere else (Afghanistan).
These would be my objections...Wayne
Jan 24, 2003 7:36 AM
1) War should always be a last resort and I would say really only justifiable in self-defense or a compelling national interest (I'd say Afganistan falls under the former, the first Gulf War under the second).

2) Given #1 what is the evidence that Saddam has/or is planning to attack us or help terrorists do so (self-defense)? or what compelling national interest is being served by removing him from power? How has America been affected for the last 10 yrs that he's remained in power, what will change if he's removed?

3) I don't think it's in America's best interest to attack and occupy an islamic country (even if in name only). We basically had the world's sympathy to facilitate conducting operations against international terrorism. This Iraq issue has taken our eyes of the prize so to speak, and eroded international support for us in general which will make fighting terrorism (i.e. the real threat to the US) much harder.

4) I have not attacked Bush personally in any thread, but I will say that the way he has conducted himself makes him (and the US by extension) look like a big swaggering bully, this is detrimental in the long run for the same reason as #3.

5) What's wrong with the picture if only Us and Britain get it? Clearly the world will back us (compare the objections now vs. the 1st Gulf War or Afganistan).
These would be my objections...sn69
Jan 24, 2003 7:57 AM
I think those are pretty good points, Wayne, and at least worthy of thought. Regarding your fifth, I've been trying to figure a couple things out for the past week, specifically the Germans and the French.

The cheese-eating, surrender-monkey Frogs don't surprise me all that much. Hell, the only reason the streets in Paris are lined with trees are so the Germans can march in the shade. When I was working in Riyahd at the coalition HQ some years back, I spoke frequently with the French F-1 squadron CO. He was very frustrated by his government's rules of engagement, which were more akin to rules of running away. They were not allowed to engage in one-on-one combat even in self-defense. In stead, their ROEs required them to return to Saudi airspace. The Germans, however, confuse me a bit. I'm curious as to what their role in this is. Are they sincere? If so, Germans backing away from a fight is a marked politico-cultural shift for them. Or, are they playing good cop in an orchastrated effort? I don't know. Have you noticed how quiet the Israelis have been lately aside from saying they'll return nukes with nukes a couple weeks ago? How about the subtle offerings of exile from Egypt, Saudi and Iran?

There's more here than meets the eye, methinks.
The French problem isWayne
Jan 24, 2003 8:29 AM
is they have a national inferiority complex, they will never support us. Germany is hard to figure, I really think Bush's antics have hurt us severely in the international theator. I mean listening to this guy talk ("If Saddam doesn't disarm, in the interest of peace, we will go to War") you'd think you were listening to some two-bit dictator trumping up charges on his weak neighbor to justify an invasion.
The president has done a piss poor job of articulating why we NEED to do this in Iraq, and as others have pointed out, what he articulates keeps changing. You are always going to have those for war and against war almost no matter what. It's those in the middle, both US citizens and other countries, that Bush needs to persuade. I personally think he is failing miserably. I can only think the bluster is Bush trying to inspire a coup, but even then, say the leadership of Iraq changes, how has the situation improved? And would you as a coup plotter or revolutionary look to us for help after the debacle in the Gulf War aftermath, so again what's the point of acting like a War mongering bully?
The French problem issn69
Jan 24, 2003 8:37 AM
Again, I think those are compelling points. It's still more fun to pick on the French, though......
The Chinese make even the French look reasonable...PdxMark
Jan 24, 2003 10:36 AM
It's always fun to poke fun at the French for their frequent contrariness toward most things American.

During the dispute with China over the collision between one of our surveillance plans and one of their fighters, it struck me that the reported Chinese contrary positions were often so goofy that they made the French look reasonable.
France, Germany & Russia have one thing in commonAlpedhuez55
Jan 24, 2003 9:17 AM
THey all get their oil from Iraq. Plus Iraq owes $9 billion to Russia. Don't consider their actions being anti-war as taking the high road. They are protecting tier own interests and will change sides if they get consessions.

I agree with Doug's position that Bush is stepping up the rhetoric in part to try to get Saddam to step aside. I do not think he is afraid to back up his rhetoric though. THe only way to get peaceful solution here is for Saddam to step aside. Inspections only work if Saddam cooperates. So far he has not and has shown nothing to say he is doing otherwise.

Afgahnistan worked. I think about 2 million people returned there after the Taliban was removed from power. I am sure once Iraq is free of their dictator, they will be better off.

Mike Y.
I agree Wayne, and would add that preemptive war ...PdxMark
Jan 24, 2003 10:32 AM
is hard to justify - though not impossible.

Preemptive war is inherently a shakey moral position. The only countries that I can think of that waged it were Axis powers during WW2 and Israel during (at least) one of its wars. The Axis power model is clearly morally corrupt.

In Israel, it seems that there likely was reasonable justification. The difference between Israel and the Axis powers seems to be the imminence of the threat. Isreal was facing mobilizing armies of overwhelming size on its borders. The threat was direct, real and imminent. In the case of the Axis powers, the threats, if any, were remote and implied - amounting to little more than daring to reject demands made by the Axis powers.

So, there is a difference between an imminent threat and a potential threat. Israel was facing a direct and imminent threat. Germany and Japan (and maybe Italy) were citing theoretical "threats" that were neither direct nor imminent.

It seems that Iraq is much more similar to the remote possible threats that Germany and Japan "perceived" than the direct and imminent threat that Israel was facing. The result is that the level of direct threat posed by Iraq does not seem to justify preeptive war.

As a backup, our government now says that Irqaq has not complied with UN reporting requirements. Of course, we can't prove non-compliance, but it's probably true. So that makes an Iraq war potentially "legal," but I'm not convinced that it makes it right.

Finally, the rationale from the Administration keeps drifting. First was the direct threat from Iraq (its WMD "could" end up in the wrong hands - but there is no evidence of weapons transfers), then the Administration knew "for a fact" that Iraq has WMD (but couldn't say where they are), now we are just sure they are under-reporting.

It's not that I trust Iraq more than the Administration, it's that I have higher expectations of an American government than I do Iraq's. Besides, we're the ones about to start a war.
Very eloquently written...Wayne
Jan 24, 2003 11:20 AM
better than I could ever hope for. This situation has caused me more than once to think of the analogy with Japan in WWII striking Pearl Harbor b/c of our threat (or had we already done it?) to stop selling them oil which was vital for their war effort in Asia, and the philosophy of might as well hit them before they hit us. Of course, I don't think our ultimate aims are as ethically corrupt as the Japanese's were, but lets get real here.
If there is substantial evidence that Iraq has a WMD program tell us about it, maybe that's enough to go in, but I'd also like to know even if they have a program why this threat necessarily demands war. Clearly in the case of N. Korea which we know has nukes and a proclivity to export war material around the world war is not the answer. Tell me why war is the answer in the case with Iraq.
And ultimately, as you say, if there is no evidence for WMD, etc. and the only reason for war is they're not playing by the UN's rules how are we justified in starting a war that is also against the UN's rules?
You have it exactly backward, Doug.Spoke Wrench
Jan 24, 2003 10:03 AM
It's the PRESIDENT'S job to convince us that he is right. It's HIS job to convince us that war with Iraq is in our country's best interests. It's HIS job to explain to the American people why he is right and all of the other countries of the world are wrong. It's HIS job to explain why we want all other nations to respect the United Nations Security Council resolutions but don't feel we should have to follow them ourselves.

Right now, I'm unconvinced. To me that means that the president is doing a poor job.
I Agree...Jon Billheimer
Jan 24, 2003 6:09 PM
completely with Wayne and Spoke Wrench and so does virtually the rest of the world with the exception of the U.K.(er, Tony Blair). For America to unilaterally launch a "pre-emptive war" in my opinion will strip us of our last vestige of moral capital and leadership in the world, reducing the U.S. truly to the world's superbully.

That having been said, there was an interesting legal opinion tonight given, by all people, a Canadian international law jurist on a Canadian network newsprogram. After reviewing the American vs. German-French position, he concluded that strictly speaking according to Resolution 1441 the U.S. has the legal right to use force against Iraq at this time because they have not met the standard of co-operation laid out in the resolution. This does not mean, in fact, that they have the much sought after WMDs though. In fact the Bush administration has simply sought to drum up a reason for a war because it wants to get rid of Saddam, probably for a variety of reasons, but personal motives and an American desire for U.S. hegemony in the middle east are primary in my personal opinion.
that wasn't my pointDougSloan
Jan 24, 2003 10:19 AM
I don't have anything "backward." I was seriously asking about what the true objections are, not about anything Bush has said. If the objection is that we just shouldn't do it until the President has made a convincing case for it, then that's fine. I understand that.

Doug
Disarm & no WMD are the same thingAlpedhuez55
Jan 24, 2003 7:18 AM
When Bush or the UN talks about disarming, they are talking about taking away weapons of mass destruction. They are on telling them they need to eliminate all weapons.

They have always been saying he needs to destroy chemical and biological weapons. That is not a recent change. They may at times stress that he is working on nuclear weapons. They never said it was OK for Iraq to have chemical or biological weapons though. THere is more stress on the chemical weapons lately because of the two instances of where chemical weapons warheads have been found in the past week. There may be a shift in the message they are pushing from time to time, but the policy has reemained constant.

I am sure we will hear more in the State of the Union Address as well. I guess there are some things known to both Blair & Bush that they have not made available to the public yet.

As for not "finishing the job" in 1991, that was not the objective then. Bush did ask people what the cost of lives would be to go to Baghdad but opted not to try to get a new resolution. Clinton largely ignored the problem during his time in office. Though he did bomb Baghdad on the eve of his impeachment trial.

Technology is different now than it was 10 years ago. They learned things both in Iraq in 91 and in Afganistan last year. I do not think the loss of life will be as high if we do have to go into the cities. Hopefully Saddam will cut his losses and accept one of the offers into exile and avoid any loss of life.

Mike Y.
Hardly.czardonic
Jan 24, 2003 1:31 PM
How many times has Bush or Fliescher used the term "regime change"? If you are trying to convince people that Bush would leave Saddam alone if he cooperated fully with the mandate to get rid of WMD, you've got a tough row to hoe. By now it is plainly obvious that no matter what the level of compliance from Saddam, Bush will simply raise the bar high enough to excuse an invasion. Even if Saddam could prove the negative and satisfy the UN that he had absolutely zero WMD capacity or ambition, Bush would stand before us and remind us that it only took box cutters and minimal flight training to perpetrate 9/11, and that the first time he have proof that Saddam is planning 9/11 style terrorism might be when a jet crashes into the Chrysler Building.

There is ample reason to replace Saddam with a more responsible leader. Getting rid of him is only half of that equation though, and thus far Bush has offered nothing in the way of a credible plan to finish the job in a way that will leave either Iraq or the US better off. Instead, Bush has focused on ramping up the paranoia to the point that even a war that left Iraq in chaos seems a desirable alternative.
We will know more next weekAlpedhuez55
Jan 24, 2003 5:08 PM
The rhetoric would have been different if Saddam cooperated with the UN inspectors. Unfortunately he did not. I am certain if he complied with the inspections Bush would not be talking so strongly about a regime change.

Lets see how Bush responds after the Inspector's report to the the Security Counsel and the state of the Union. I am sure he will state more on his plans for an attack and what will be done if there is a regime change.

Mike Y.