Iraq: February 7, 2003

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The U.S. closed it's "Interest Section" in the Polish embassy and ordered the diplomats working there, and any American citizens, or leave Iraq as soon as possible. An "Interest Section" is used to establish some form of diplomatic relations in a nation that you do not have an embassy in. Ordering everyone out is usually a prelude to war. 

Meanwhile, American diplomats have been meeting with Iranian, Turkish and Jordanian officials to work out the ground rules for what those countries will, or will not, do if U.S. armed forces invade Iraq. Turkey has apparently agreed to allow U.S. combat troops operate in eastern Turkey. Jordan will apparently allow American aircraft to over fly their territory and for small commando units to operate out of remote Jordanian bases. The arrangements with Iran include agreeing on procedures to deal with American aircraft that wander into Iranian territory (don't bother them) and the movements of Iraqi Shia rebel units in Iran (allow them to enter Iraq) and Iranian rebels operating in Iran (arrest them, or kill them if they resist, still uncertain if live ones would be turned over to Iran.) 

One major military decision for American commanders in Iraq is the speed of the attack. The debate between "Fast Dash" and the "Slow Roll" goes back to World War II and the feud between American general George (Fast Dash) Patton and British general Bernard Law (Slow Roll) Montgomery. Patton's bold and speedy style was much feared by the Germans, but seen as too risky and rash by the more prudent (and senior) Montgomery. When Patton was turned loose, he generally succeeded big time. Montgomery's more plodding style made progress, but sacrificed many opportunities. Most Allied generals were more comfortable with the Slow Roll approach. But in the last three decades, a new generation of American generals has developed, and many of them are confident that they can handle the Fast Dash. In Iraq, the Fast Dash risks leaving armed, and hostile, Iraqis behind fast moving American units sprinting for Baghdad and other key Iraqi cities and military bases. The Slow Roll gives Iraqis bent on resistance more time to get organized. Historically, armies of well trained and led troops is much better off using the Fast Dash. In Iraq, it will take months to round up all the thugs and secret police and Baath Party loyalists. But since these bad actors come largely from the Sunni Arab minority, there are plenty of majority (80 percent) Shia Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians and Turkomen willing to assist in this chore. While Iraq is a perfect opportunity for the Fast Dash, it's still possible that the more timid Slow Roll crowd will win the debate.


 

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