Iraq: November 18, 2002

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Shipments of American war material are thought to be about 30,000 tons a day. The amount needed to sustain an attack would be some 60,000 tons a day. Most of this would be fuel and munitions. There is equipment in the area for some three divisions (including one Marine division.) The planned attack is thought to be based on the classic "blitzkrieg" ("lightening war") seen so spectacularly during World War II. But the idea of an overwhelming attack, whose aim is to paralyze and demoralize the enemy, is an ancient concept. The 13th century Mongol armies are still the best example of such tactics. The American troops are expected to use air power, psychological warfare, paratroopers, commandos and armored units to simultaneously hit as many Iraqi units as possible. The theme of this attack will be "surrender or die." This is the classic "offer you can't refuse." The vast majority of Iraqi defectors indicate that even members of Saddam's Republican Guard are ready to lay down their arms and be done with Saddam and his Baath Party cutthroats. The American armed forces are certainly trained and equipped for this sort of campaign, so we may soon find out. 

The advance team of the UN arms inspectors arrived in Iraq. Arms inspections are expected to begin on November 27th. There are about 200 inspectors, trained at a UN school in Austria. Only 31 of them are American. The inspectors have more sensitive equipment than the last team, that was forced out by the Iraqis in 1998. The new inspectors also have access to a lot of data collected by Western intelligence agencies in the last four years. Few doubt that the Iraqis have resumed work on chemical, biological and nuclear (CBN) weapons. Twice before, the Iraqis have been caught with weapons programs they insisted did not exist. It's expected that some new CBN weapons and research facilities will be found, and that the Iraqis will interfere with inspectors as they close in others. While Saddam has long had the option to let the inspectors find all that could, declare Iraq free of CBN and leave, he has not done so. If he had taken that approach ten years ago, he could have easily resumed those programs with the billions of dollars in additional oil revenue he has lost due to the embargo. Saddam has a history of making disastrous decisions, and this was another one of them. For this reason, it's thought that Saddam will screw up again and the Americans will invade no matter what happens. 

There is already a dispute between the US government and the UN over who will determine when Iraq is in "material breach" of the UN resolutions and thus liable to American military action. At the moment, the smart money is on the US attacking without waiting for the UN to finish it's squabbling.

 

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