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Could Iraq strike be another Bay of Pigs?
WorldNetDaily.com ^ | Saturday, August 17, 2002

Posted on 08/17/2002 4:53:49 AM PDT by JohnHuang2

While certain factions inside Washington push the Afghan model of warfare – combining massive air power with cooperation by opposition forces already in country – as a viable strategy for a possible attack on Iraq, conditions inside the nation are much different, causing some to question whether such a campaign could raise the specter of the Bay of Pigs operation.

Iraq has become the focus of many debates, one of the most important of which is occurring within the American defense and intelligence communities about the current state of U.S. military power and the manner in which war will be waged in the 21st century. Alongside this debate is the question of the effectiveness of U.S. intelligence to enable the American military to achieve victories.

From the standpoint of many military analysts, the United States experienced a string of decisive military victories during the 1990s – bracketed by the Gulf and Kosovo wars – while sustaining extraordinarily low casualties. As important, as the end of the decade approached, the quantity of ground forces required to achieve victory declined dramatically.

The successes of the 1990s led to a school of thought within the military, particularly in the U.S. Air Force, that a qualitative shift in warfare already had taken place. Advances in both the technology and the doctrine of the air campaign had advanced to the point that air power could paralyze an enemy's capability to wage war.

The argument was that it was air power that was decisive during Desert Storm, and that the massed armored formations that recaptured Kuwait were a waste of resources. A much smaller force would have been sufficient to sweep aside an Iraqi army whose command and control functions were destroyed and whose morale was shattered. By Kosovo, the need for massive ground forces had disappeared.

Afghanistan was the crowning glory for this school of thought. The war consisted of an air campaign combining aircraft carriers, long-range bombers and cruise missiles. The ground forces consisted primarily of special operations teams, most working in tandem with indigenous forces, with some light infantry (Marine and Army) moving in to hold key positions and provide support for special operations teams.

The Afghan model seemed to serve as a paradigm for future war fighting, and there is a faction inside the Bush administration and within the defense and intelligence communities that argues this is the model that ought to be applied to Iraq, and that the kind of buildup required in 1990-1991 is no longer necessary.

According to this model, the primary burden of the war will be carried by U.S. air power. Aircraft and cruise missiles will first suppress Iraq's air defenses, then attack its command and control infrastructure and finally decimate any concentrations of ground forces, particularly armor. At the same time, special operations teams will deploy throughout the country. Their mission will be to provide targeting intelligence, disrupt lines of supply and communications and, most of all, organize resistance to Saddam Hussein's regime on the ground.

The attack on command and control facilities will destroy Hussein's ability to control his forces nationwide, isolate (if not kill) him and create a vacuum into which opposition forces can move. At the end, conventional ground forces will move in to mop up, impose control and secure the country.

There are two premises operating here. The first is that air power can weaken Hussein's control over the country. The second is that Special Forces teams will find discontented populations that can be formed into an effective paramilitary force.

The second premise is the most important. Even if the Air Force is completely successful in disrupting Hussein's control, effective ground action to dislodge enough of his forces that they do not threaten follow-on conventional forces is critical. In Afghanistan, that force was provided by the Northern Alliance and other warlords who could be induced to work with the United States.

There are obvious and critical differences between Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan is deeply divided along ethnic and tribal lines, not only between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban, but also within the Taliban itself. The marriages of convenience that comprised the bulk of the Taliban crumbled when they became inconvenient. Moreover, the Northern Alliance was comprised of heavily armed, experienced and willing combatants under the control of a few men. If the leadership could be persuaded, an effective force was in place – relative to the strength of the Taliban.

Thus, the ability of air power to disrupt the Taliban's command and control, and to provide coordinate air support for indigenous operations, depended on the existence of forces to carry out those operations. Those forces were ready to go in Afghanistan. That is not the case in Iraq.

The Kurds will be quick to point out that they are armed and ready, but they should not be mistaken for the Northern Alliance. The Kurds' ultimate goal is a Kurdish state – something they have de facto achieved in northern Iraq by walking a fine line between the Turks and Hussein. Turkey has no interest in the emergence of an internationally recognized Kurdish state, and Washington has sided with Ankara on that point, declaring that a post-Saddam Iraq will be a unitary state. There is little to no chance that Iraq's Sunnis or Shiites would tolerate a significant Kurdish role in the government of that state.

For the Kurds, therefore, cooperation with the United States in toppling Hussein promises great risk but denies their desired reward. And finally, the Kurds are on the periphery of Hussein's core strategic area. Hussein has been extremely efficient at sealing or eliminating any internal rifts that might be exploited to stage an uprising.

So Hussein has opposition, but opposition alone is different from effective opposition. Saddam's security forces are highly effective, in large part because of their brutality. After many years of successfully destroying and disrupting any organized opposition inside of Iraq, it is extremely doubtful that indigenous opposition forces can be mobilized, armed and trained between the time the air campaign loosens Saddam's grip on them and the moment they must commence offensive operations.

There is an analogy here with the Bay of Pigs, which was predicated on the assumption that the landing of a few hundred paramilitaries, coupled with U.S. air power, would trigger a rising against Cuban leader Fidel Castro. There was never an expectation that the direct force would be successful, only that it would trigger indigenous forces. It could be argued that the cancellation of planned air strikes represented a major shift from the original plan, but it is extremely unlikely that even air strikes would have led to an uprising. Castro's security services were simply too good and his popularity was too secure.

In Iraq, the premise of the operation is similar to assumptions made about Cuba – namely the fact that conditions for an effective uprising are in place. Some argue that air power has advanced so dramatically since 1961 that the relative weakness of the Iraqi opposition would be compensated for by more effective air strikes. Obviously, U.S. intelligence knows that the Iraqi opposition being paraded in Washington is an empty shell. It also knows that raising a meaningful force inside of Iraq is unlikely.

Therefore, the United States seems to be making the following bet: Air power has demonstrated its ability to so destroy an enemy that a relatively small force could engage and defeat what little may be left of the Iraqi armed forces. The force deployed in 1991 represented massive overkill. A much smaller force, perhaps 20 percent as large, could have been as effective.

Therefore, in the 2002 or 2003 model, a substantial air campaign, combining naval air in the Persian Gulf with Air Force strikes from Turkey and Qatar, will be sufficient to permit a ground force of two divisions or less to manage the situation. Special operations troops will focus on intelligence, targeting and disruption missions but will not be expected to raise an effective indigenous force.

Given the experience, this argument appears plausible. But it does not deal with a single crucial element: Baghdad.

When the Israelis invaded Lebanon nearly two decades ago, they struck deep and went to the outskirts of Beirut. They were hoping that panic among the Palestinian Liberation Organization forces there would denude the city of defenders, giving them control.

When the PLO stood and fought, Israel declined combat, knowing that urban warfare provides a huge advantage for the defender, particularly one familiar with the landscape. When the Soviet army closed on Berlin in 1945, it had complete air superiority, ringed the city with artillery, outnumbered the defenders and was enormously better armed, equipped and trained. The German defenders – children and old men in many cases – knew that the war was lost. Nevertheless, the Soviets suffered tens of thousands of casualties taking the city.

The U.S. Army has not assaulted a very large, defended city in its history. Since the United States is casualty-averse, its doctrine calls for maneuvering around urban areas without entering them. That means that there is a tremendous unknown: the ability of the United States to paralyze with a high degree of certainty any defense of Baghdad – bearing in mind that a disorganized defense can be just as devastating as an organized one in that environment.

The essential assumption has been that air power could so destabilize Saddam's armed forces that they would be unable to maneuver and defend. The core unanswered question is whether air power would be equally effective in disrupting defenses inside of Baghdad.

Would forces there stand and fight? Would they melt away? Could a two-division mechanized force subdue the city with acceptable casualties? Most important, could the United States know the answers to these questions prior to launching the attack?

We should add to this that there will be political constraints placed on the air campaign. A strategic bombing campaign against Baghdad causing tens of thousands of casualties might win the war, but the pressure it would place on the international coalition would be enormous. Yet in tactical combat inside an urban environment, close air support without massive collateral damage is hard to come by.

These are the nightmares confronting American planners. On the one side is the very real promise of air- and special operations-based warfare. On the other side is the question of just how far you can push this model before it traps you into a war of attrition. For those who assert confidence in the political consequences of a military action, there is the memory of the Bay of Pigs. On the other side – in its extreme form – there is Stalingrad and the memory of what defensive warfare can do to a mobile enemy when drawn into a major city. These are the cautionary tales with which U.S. defense planners are working.




TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS:
Saturday, August 17, 2002

Quote of the Day by DWSUWF

1 posted on 08/17/2002 4:53:49 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
John, I pinged you to an article posted last night called "The War Has Begun" or something like that. Please read it when you get the time and tell me what you think.

Also, let me know if you can't find it, and I will dig it up.

2 posted on 08/17/2002 4:56:46 AM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: Miss Marple
Also, let me know if you can't find it, and I will dig it up.

Could you do that? I would really appreciate it. You should see my self-search! hehe

Morning, btw =^)

3 posted on 08/17/2002 4:59:22 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
I should have realized how many people ping you! I am sometimes cluless.

Here is the link..I found this VERY interesting:

Iraq: In all but name the war's on

4 posted on 08/17/2002 5:16:19 AM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: JohnHuang2
Of course, will you see these pings in order to get the link? LOL!
5 posted on 08/17/2002 5:21:03 AM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: Miss Marple
I should have realized how many people ping you!

The sheer volume of replies to threads I post makes it impossible for me to reply to all...lol.

6 posted on 08/17/2002 5:24:14 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: Miss Marple
Thanks for the link, my friend.
7 posted on 08/17/2002 5:24:55 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
I love keyboard commando strategy

The successes of the 1990s led to a school of thought within the military, particularly in the U.S. Air Force, that a qualitative shift in warfare already had taken place. Advances in both the technology and the doctrine of the air campaign had advanced to the point that air power could paralyze an enemy's capability to wage war.

The Air Force has always believed they could single handedly win any war. The only time troops on the ground were not required was when two atom bombs were dropped.

Saddam's security forces are highly effective, in large part because of their brutality.

Bullies are always effective when none can stand against them. They have proven cowards before.

There is an analogy here with the Bay of Pigs, which was predicated on the assumption that the landing of a few hundred paramilitaries, coupled with U.S. air power, would trigger a rising against Cuban leader Fidel Castro. There was never an expectation that the direct force would be successful, only that it would trigger indigenous forces. It could be argued that the cancellation of planned air strikes represented a major shift from the original plan, but it is extremely unlikely that even air strikes would have led to an uprising. Castro's security services were simply too good and his popularity was too secure.

The plan was to provide air support so that the landing could succeed and the units move into the hills to organize the opposition. The planning and schedule left a lot to be desired. But when JFK pulled the air support that screwed everyone on the ground. The landing would never have been executed if JFK’s cowardice had been known ahead of time.

The U.S. Army has not assaulted a very large, defended city in its history.

Golly-gosh, I guess Hue doesn’t count. Oh that’s right, it was a U. S. Marine operation.

Since the United States is casualty-averse, its doctrine calls for maneuvering around urban areas without entering them.

I don’t believe that the United States is alone in that doctrine. Only the ChiComs believe in the massive assault theory of war.

On the other side – in its extreme form – there is Stalingrad and the memory of what defensive warfare can do to a mobile enemy when drawn into a major city.

Stalingrad was a fixation of Hitler and not based on sound military strategy. In addition, Russia has always relied on slowly surrendering territory until its greatest defensive weapon comes to bear, the Russian Winter.

8 posted on 08/17/2002 6:29:18 AM PDT by Jimmy Valentine's brother
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To: JohnHuang2
Will Iraq be an Afghanistan - or another Bay of Pigs?
9 posted on 08/17/2002 6:29:44 AM PDT by SMEDLEYBUTLER
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Have yet to take a position regarding Iraq? Haven't made up your mind yet where you stand? Still not quite sure if you're for or against toppling Saddam?

Well, let me help you.

The roster of opponents to action in Iraq reads like a who's who of the finest, most brilliant military thinkers today. Take it from me, these people are pillars -- indeed, the creme-de-la-creme -- of the national security community, unparalleled paragons of winning war strategy, tactics -- you name it.

Take Gen. Maureen Dowd.

For those of you in Palm Beach county, Gen. Dowd unquestionably stands among the world's most preeminent thinkers -- a venerable authority not just on military affairs, but on darn near everything you can think of. Whether it's brokering peace in the Middle East, to the sex lives of Hollywood apotheosis Michael Douglas, Gen. Dowd has the answers.

Heck, my motto is, 'when in doubt, just ask Gen. Dowd -- she's the sage'.

Not impressed?

Okay, I'll toss out another name.

How's about Gen. Bill Press?

Not familiar with him? Ha! Shame on you.

Look, he may be a political commentator, but don't let that fool you. Beneath that goofy, geeky, dorky, cartoonish facade, lies a military genius, a true oracle on war and peace.

Okay, okay, so he's not exactly a General.

So what? Let me tell you, the man is battle-hardened, a veteran of combat like few men have ever seen.

Remember the Monica wars and the battle of impeachment? That's when he earned his metals and honors, courageously defending his commander-in-briefs, Der Schlickmeister, directing the tanks and artillery, heroically fending off Republican fusillades of mean-spirited allegations.

Battle-hardened, indeed!

Huh? Still not impressed? Sheesh. You're one tough customer, aren't you?

Does the name Chris Matthews ring a bell?

Some swill-spewing, silly, giddy TV talking-airhead, you say?

Think again.

Talk about intellectual fire-power! Maxine Waters -- step aside.

The Hardball host once worked in the White House of one of history's greatest successes -- Jimmy 'Killer-Rabbit' Carter!

Yes-siree, Bob.

Sure he was wrong about Reagan and the Soviets and the Cold War and 'Star Wars' and the military and Bush and the Taliban and Afghanistan and the 'axis-of-evil'......

...okay, okay, never mind. You're still not impressed, I see.

Of course, if VIPs as towering as Dowd and Press and Matthews won't jolt you off the fence, well then, what about foreign policy savants like Barbara Streisand?

Or Madeline Albright?

Or Sandy Burger?

No? Still not impressed?

All right. I've got just the name: Gen. Brent Scowcroft!

Ah, yes! The media's flavor-of-the-week (it was Dick Armey last week).

Scowcroft was Bush-the-elder's National Security Affairs Advisor during Desert Storm.

In an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal, Don't Attack Saddam, Scowcroft warned the Bush administration to keep hands-off Iraq.

Basically, he offers the following:

1) Forget about being pro-active. Be reactive. Pretend 9/11 never happened. Bury your head in the sand. Wait till the enemy strikes first, then, and only then, strike back. Wait till he hits us with weapons of mass destruction -- then react.

The Scowcroft principle: Don't just do something, stand there!

2) The "coalition" is more important than the mission itself. In fact, it should determine the mission. As President, your first duty is to protect and defend the coalition. It says so in the constitution. The U.N. constitution, that is.

3) Forget about leadership. Go wobbly, George. Be a follower. Listen to the Euroweenies. Be an Angloweenie. Listen to the Saudis. Listen to the Syrians. Let them know you feel their pain. Listen to the people who danced and pranced and celebrated in the streets when the towers fell. Don't -- repeat: Don't -- do anything that might make them mad. They might not like us if we do. Make 'em mad, and they'll unleash Armageddon on you! Can't do that, wouldn't be prudent.

(Backing down now would shatter the credibility of the United States. Our reputation would be left in tatters, our enemies, emboldened.)

4) Forget about making a case. There is no case against Saddam. He's not a terrorist, nor is he connected to terrorism.

(Saddam is funding the families of homicide bombers in Israel, $50,000 each. Moreover, Iraq was behind the first World Trade Center bombing in February of '93. Saddam plotted the attempted assassination of President Bush (41) in Kuwait in '93. New Yorker reporter Jeffery Goldberg has extensively documented close connections between Iraqi intelligence and top al-Qaeda leaders. No link to terrorism, eh, Scowcroft? Nice try.)

5) Forget that Saddam is blatantly violating the terms and conditions of a ceasefire. No big deal.

6) Trust weapons inspections. We all know how good that worked for 10 years, right?

Wait a minute.....hmmmmmmm.....Gee, did you notice something? Scowcroft sounds awfully defensive, doesn't he? Why, come to think of it, he's really defending himself -- his harebrained advise to leave Saddam in power after Desert Storm.

In short, this is damage control, pure and simple. Big time C.Y.A. This is about ego. Scowcroft's ego. He just can't bring himself to admit he was wrong.

Scowcroft memo to Bush: Forget history. Don't learn from our mistakes. Repeat them.

To the American people, Scowcroft's message is:

Trust me. Don't trust Bush. Don't trust Rumsfeld. Don't trust Tommy Franks. Don't trust Condi Rice. No, I'm not in the loop, nor am I privy to high-level info nor high-level planning nor secret intelligence. Nor do I get any briefings. I'm completely in the dark. But trust me.

Uh, trust you, Gen. Scowcroft?

Gee, excuse me, but I see one itsy-bitsy problem with this: Your track record. According to you (circa summer 1990), Saddam would never invade Kuwait and the Soviet Union would never collapse.

Not exactly confidence building, now is it?

One more thing -- this is a big one:

"[Scowcroft] OPPOSED even toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan, which he thought would be, diplomatically, too difficult to do", Rich Lowry of National Review told Hardball Thursday night.

Trust you, Gen. Scowcroft? Ah, thanks, but no thanks.

Team Bush has earned my trust.

Anyway, that's...

My two cents...
"JohnHuang2"


10 posted on 08/17/2002 6:49:17 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
Bookmarking this for #10
11 posted on 08/17/2002 6:55:07 AM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: hellinahandcart
Thanks.
12 posted on 08/17/2002 6:56:23 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
No, thank you.
13 posted on 08/17/2002 6:58:43 AM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: hellinahandcart
*Smiles*
14 posted on 08/17/2002 6:59:21 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
"Bay of Pigs"! I guess "Vietnam" and "quagmire" weren't resonating as well as some had hoped.
15 posted on 08/17/2002 7:03:02 AM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: hellinahandcart
hehehe, so true. Johnny Apple of the New York Times back in October was salivating at the prospect another quagmire. On November 11, he had egg on his face.
16 posted on 08/17/2002 7:04:33 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
I seem to remember Belgrade essentially surrendering to nothing but airpower ( We shouldn't have been in the Balkan's War but it proves a military point )
17 posted on 08/17/2002 7:23:12 AM PDT by uncbob
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To: uncbob
But we are also very adverse when it comes to collateral damage - urban war , by its very nature, assures a great degree of collateral damage - command and control centers next to nurseries and hospitals - ammo dumps in schools and mosques are all part of urban warfare -

When was the last time we took a big city head on?
18 posted on 08/17/2002 9:06:42 AM PDT by SEGUET
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To: SEGUET
When was the last time we took a big city head on?

Georgie Patton's Third Army at Metz in 1944 comes to mind. Heavily defended, Patton crippled by a shortage of fuel and supplies [to the extent that Third Army's Corps artillery support sometimes came from captured German 88MM and other guns and ammunition- which worked just fine!] and the first foothold across the Rhine into German territory. I ccan't think of anything directly equivalent, unless it would be the occupation of Santo Domingo, the capital city, during the Dominican Republic *incursion* of 1965-66, Operation Power Pack. But in that instance, the idea was to minimize damage and casualties, and at Metz, which included direct-fire artillery support from 155-mm Howitzers, that was certainly less the case.

Amateurs and lieutenants study tactics and strategy; professionals sweat the logistics.

-archy-/-

19 posted on 08/17/2002 12:33:52 PM PDT by archy
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To: JohnHuang2
When the Israelis invaded Lebanon nearly two decades ago, they struck deep and went to the outskirts of Beirut. They were hoping that panic among the Palestinian Liberation Organization forces there would denude the city of defenders, giving them control.

When the PLO stood and fought, Israel declined combat, knowing that urban warfare provides a huge advantage for the defender, particularly one familiar with the landscape. When the Soviet army closed on Berlin in 1945, it had complete air superiority, ringed the city with artillery, outnumbered the defenders and was enormously better armed, equipped and trained. The German defenders – children and old men in many cases – knew that the war was lost. Nevertheless, the Soviets suffered tens of thousands of casualties taking the city.

***** *****

Those familiar with the war will recall that General Zhukov was a major hero at the end of the war for his drive on Berlin, but even then he was prepared to sacrifice soldiers to his cause. As Glantz notes, he "would replicate this bloodletting in strikingly similar fashion when, in April and May 1945, the 1st Belorussian Front, under his direct command, would lose 37,610 killed and missing and 141,880 wounded in the Berlin operation, about half of the total casualties suffered by the three participating Soviet fronts."

--David M. Glantz, Zhukov's Greatest Defeat: The Red Army's Epic Disaster in Operation Mars, 1942 (University Press of Kansas, 1999; David M. Glantz

Gregori Arbatov was a rifle company commander in the Red Army in the Battle of Berlin. He took terrible casualties. Some of them were men he had led in the Battle of Moscow, and so many others. Fifty years later he still shook with fury at the thought of Stalin's insistence on taking the city. Arbatov said any sane man would have surrounded Berlin, pounded it with artillery, and waited for the inevitable capitulation. 'But not that son of a bitch Stalin. He sent us into the city, with all those crazy Nazi kids, and we bled.' The estimated casualty cost was 100,000.
--- Stephen E. Ambrose, The Victors
20 posted on 08/17/2002 12:46:59 PM PDT by archy
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To: JohnHuang2
Oh my G-d! Quick, someone call the Pentagon! I'm sure they never even considered the need to avoid a siege of Baghdad.

Seriously, the war against Iraq will be totally different than Desert Storm. I imagine we'll continue the covert preparations until our SF guys have tracked down Saddam. They'll create new holes in his head then we'll begin overt military operations to paralyze his forces. We'll send in the "inside-out" forces to rout the few diehards left in his army around Baghdad.

I guess my main concern is how we prevent some random Scud commander from launching at the outset. Hopefully, we'll have our psyops people ready to simulate normal radio traffic to his commanders (eg. "All is well, Ahmed").

21 posted on 08/17/2002 1:24:23 PM PDT by mikegi
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To: mikegi
Oh my G-d! Quick, someone call the Pentagon! I'm sure they never even considered the need to avoid a siege of Baghdad.

Very possibly not, if they're smart. Treat it just like Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Just because we do not need to eliminate Baghdad with a nuclear strike does not mean that we should not do so. But the option should indeed be considered, from all the possible military and political viewpoints, before wasting US troops going in on the ground, building-to-building.

And if a joint strike was made with another nuclear power, so much the better. And they could share the determination of the region's future with us.

-archy-/-

22 posted on 08/17/2002 1:29:12 PM PDT by archy
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