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Monday, November 03, 2003
A few questions come up due to the article Hussein Was Sure Of Own Survival by Steve Coll over at the Washington Post.
Coll states 'Later, according to Aziz, Hussein concluded after private talks with French and Russian contacts that the United States would probably wage a long air war first, as it had done in previous conflicts. By hunkering down and putting up a stiff defense, he might buy enough time to win a ceasefire brokered by Paris and Moscow.'
Now based on the above, I have to wonder, did the U.S. know what the French and the Russians were up to during the lead up to Gulf War II? I like most people expected several days of bombing to proceed any land invasion.
The order to send in ground troops immediately though makes perfect sense from a political and strategic perspective if you had a suspicion that other nations would get involved and start demanding a ceasefire immediately after the air campaign began. As well, once the troops are in the country it gives good political cover to the President to ignore demands for a ceasefire.
It also makes sense to immediately send in ground troops if you have reason to believe that Hussein had delayed preparation for the defence of Iraq because of information he was getting from outside sources. If Hussein had chemical or biological weapons to deploy (yeah, yeah I know... but this is pre-war remember) it only makes sense that he would wait until the last possible moment to distribute them. If I was in charge and had reason to suspect that WMD hadn't been deployed I'ld be much more likely to rush the invasion if I though it could save lives. Of course you could never be sure such weapons weren't deployed but war is primarily a matter of probabilities and you have to take your chances.
I think we also have reason to suspect that the U.S. knew what the French and Russians were up to because of what seemed to be the quick decision to commence hostilities. The U.S. had a whole armoured division it could have put into the war if it had only waited a couple of weeks. Somebody, somewhere, determined that it was better to go in early than to wait for that division. I've never seen any comments as to why this decision was made.
Now of course all of this could just be a coincidence and the American movement of armoured divisions in Turkey and what seemed at first to be a hurried invasion may have been the plan all along.
But if the Americans knew of the French and Russian activities, this would be a significant intelligence success story that has gone totally unnoticed.
I guess it's to soon to tell but hopefully several years down the road some of the tactical and strategic decisions involved in Gulf War II will be properly explained.