Friday, August 30, 2002

The New Republic has gone register-only, but it's still worth it. This article is a thorough dismantling of the ever-popular quagmire arguments.
I met a Baghdad Arab in a restaurant in the northeastern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah and asked him about Iraqi military morale. "Do you really think my son wants to be in uniform?" he asked. "Or anyone in his unit? He hears about life outside of Iraq. That's what he wants to live, not what he wants to fight."

There is simply no reason to believe that the Iraqi army will do anything other than repeat their 1991 effort, and surrender or run off in droves. Indications are strong the morale is far worse that 1991, if people are resisting the draft in a terror state that shoots deserters out of hand.
In April 1995 Saddam dismissed his army chief of staff after a mass defection of soldiers to the Iraqi opposition; some army units saw defection rates of 30 percent. Last summer, after Saddam ordered compulsory military training for boys between ages twelve and 17, many Iraqi families tried to hide their sons. Just last month opposition sources reported that Saddam's older son, Uday, has launched a campaign to hunt down deserters-who reportedly constitute up to 10 percent of Iraqi conscripts, according to military police statistics, despite the fact that the penalty for desertion can be death.

Uday, it must be remembered, is the mad dog son that beat a bodyguard to death. Perhaps all those protesters pushing the "vengeance for Daddy" line on Bush One and Two, might like to remember who is waiting in the wings to take over in Iraq.

Here is an angle that no-one else is considering:
Close to one in every five Iraqis, after all, lives in exile-having fled Saddam's regime-and more than 700,000 have perished in wars or government purges since Saddam formally assumed Iraq's presidency in 1979. That means most Iraqi families have a murdered or exiled family member or friend.

There's lots more about the crumbling state of the Iraqi war machine, instances of revolt in the army, the Republican Guard, and even in Saddam's own Tikrit clan.

There is also the question of urban warfare.
As Patrick Clawson, editor of the forthcoming study Iraq After Saddam, comments, "Urban warfare is a specialized skill which takes a lot of training to learn. And I know of no evidence that Saddam has allowed Iraqi soldiers into the cities to practice this skill. Indeed, given how paranoid Saddam is about allowing his troops anywhere near Baghdad, I would be surprised to see Iraqi soldiers practicing how to fight street by street." Egypt's former Chief of Staff General Salah Halaby put it more bluntly earlier this month: "The Iraqi army has no chance whatsoever to stand steadfast and will fall like a castle of sand."

One more time, for the dummies: 30 day war, end to end.

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