Puzzling Iraq developments…


Richard Moore

First a brief dialog...

Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 10:02:47 +0000
From: T
To: "Richard K. Moore" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: My Thanks...

I would just like to extend my thanks to you. I have
only subscribed to your list recently, but it has been
refreshing to my sense of referenced sanity to see
anyone else articulating what you do; often the chasm
between my perception and that of any and all others
leaves me feeling a little liking i'm laughing on my
own in a dark room to a joke no-one else finds funny.

I study Sociology and Social Policy in [an Irish
university], and your pieces are everything I admire. I
am a huge fan of chossoduvsky and send choice cuts from
him to my friends, and look forward to working through
and distributing the piece I have just received from

So, my thanks, and keep up the excellent work...


Dear T,

Thanks, and welcome to the list.  Don't be alarmed that
your note is published - your name & email address are
omitted.  I'm posting it because it represents many
others like it that have been received over the years. 
This is the kind of feedback that makes it all
worthwhile.  Not only for me, but for those special
people who regularly take the time to select choice
items and send them in for posting.

Sometimes it feels like we are a closed community on
these lists - the choir preaching to itself.  But when
new people come in, and when they forward things to
their friends - that opens things up.  Thanks for that.




I'm a bit puzzled by how things are proceeding in Iraq.

How is it that Iraqi tank formations are operating in
open deserts, posing a problem to the "coalition"
advance?  Who's kidding whom?  Way back in the Gulf War
the Warthog tank-killer planes with their DU-tipped
missiles made short shrift of any tanks that left their
bunkers.  And they tell us the technology is now vastly
more sophisticated.

If there are massed tanks, why don't they use one of
the super-bombs they've been waiting to test?  And why
has the bombing of Baghdad been so much less than we
were expecting?  It just doesn't make sense, especially
after the regime announced it was going to use "shock
and awe" and a level of force never before seen.

In the Gulf War, they didn't even bother with ground
forces until after weeks and weeks of heavy
bombardment.  Why this antiquarian return to
Vietnam-era bogged-down tactics?

My starting point, here, is that I don't believe the
scenario is real.  If the US is getting bogged down in
the desert, it's because they want it that way.  The
question in my mind is "Why?".

Putting myself in their shoes, as I often do, I can
think of two plausible lines of thought.  Both have to
do with public opinion, and with the post-Iraq-war

    * Theory 1:  Washington is concerned about the
    worldwide protests, and wants to tone down the level of
    force.  It will sincerely try to limit civilian
    casualties, and make this a semi-humanitarian regime
    change.  The payoff will be less resistance in the
    future, when the next conquest opportunity comes along.

This is the optimistic theory.  But there is a problem
with it.  It is totally out of character with the Bush
administration, and particularly out of character with
the way they've been proceeding with this project up to
this point.  If they don't mind being predators with
their words, why should they hesitate on the
battlefield?  Why boast about how bad you are and then
play nice guy when the fists start flying?

    * Theory 2:  Washington does indeed want to proceed
    with its shock-and-awe bloodbath weapons test, but they
    want to build a semblance of public support first. 
    They know they lost the propaganda war so far, and they
    need to do some damage control before putting more fuel
    on the fire.

In this line of thinking, there is an obvious point of
leverage available to them: the normal response of
nations at war to rally behind "their boys".  It
doesn't affect everyone, but it affects a great many. 
In order to tap into this, they need to arrange to have
"battles", and a significant number of casualties.  The
enemy needs to hurt you before you can really hate him.
Casualties weren't needed in the Gulf War, because
there wasn't the same level of problem with public

One obvious way to exploit this leverage would be to
continue for a while with bogged-down tactics, and
arrange for some routs of significant "coalition"
units, with heavy casualties.  Newly-made widows would
be shown on TV, demanding the President do more to
"protect our brave boys."  Meanwhile pundits on
television would begin criticizing the President for
proceeding too slowly, with one hand tied behind his
back.  And then, a dastardly dramatic deed, attributed
to Saddam.  A Kuwaiti village is gassed, or a US army
hospital, or you-name-the-fabricated-scenario.

By such shenanigans -- standard elite procedure for centuries
in such situations -- Bush can hope to be seen as the
cavalry riding to the rescue.  It's the image he's
tried to create, but so far with success only in his
own parochial nation.  He can then "reluctantly"
unleash the arsenal which has been chopping at the bit,
eager to be tested.

I suppose we'll soon know one way or the other.