THE US is preparing for slaughter in Iraq. The administration may be hoping that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein could be ousted by a military coup. But Bush is willing to unleash a bloody battle that will raze Iraq to the ground.
Last Sunday's New York Times reported that Bush had 'settled on a war plan' that 'would feature swift ground actions to seize footholds' in Iraq. It noted that 'the plan calls for massing 200,000 to 250,000 troops for attack by air, land and sea.'
US general Wesley Clarke was quoted in Monday's Financial Times, saying, 'You don't know what it's going to take exactly, but you want to be sure if it's a really big fight - you want to be there with really big forces, not where you could give the Iraqis any hope they could survive.' None of the war plans have anything to do with 'liberating' Iraqi people. The 'Doctrine for Joint Urban Operations' (pictured) was published on 16 September by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. Behind the military jargon are chilling implications.
It tries to draw lessons from previous attempts to conquer major cities. Baghdad is not mentioned by name, but it doesn't take much imagination to guess which city the US military may have in mind. The document fears that fighting in urban areas can go badly wrong. It worries that 'cities reduce the advantages of the technologically superior force.
'The physical terrain of cities tends to reduce line of sight...and inhibits command, control and communications capability.' The document looks at the Battle of Stalingrad in the Second World War, when initially superior German forces eventually suffered a crushing defeat. It then looks at what happened when US forces fought to retake the Vietnamese city of Hue from liberation fighters in 1968.
The US forces eventually succeeded, but there were heavy casualties. The carnage in Hue helped undermine support in the US for the Vietnam War. The final example is the first invasion of the Chechen capital, Grozny, in 1994-5.
An initially overwhelmingly superior Russian force was fought to a standstill by Chechen guerrillas. The heavy casualties helped feed anti-war feeling in Russia. The US military planners are terrified that they could get bogged down in Iraq. The way they hope to avoid this is brutal. The document talks about 'exerting appropriate influence on the urban triad'. In plain English this means levelling buildings, destroying infrastructure to cut off water, electricity and food, and driving out or killing the civilian population.
The document says, 'In any urban combat the best approach is to use the full range of combined arms technology and weaponry...to apply overwhelming combat power with speed, firepower and shock.'
In this situation manipulating media coverage is vital. The document talks of how the US military 'lost' the 'information battle' in the Vietnam War as reports helped fuel the US anti-war movement. The aim today must be for 'maximum cooperation between the media and joint forces...successful engagement of the media can...help produce and maintain domestic and international support' for war.
It notes this can help in 'reprogramming mass consciousness' and so try to keep up support for war.
The full document is available on the internet. Go to www.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/international/021021dod_report.pdf
Stirring up rivals
ONE OPTION being considered by the US would be to unleash a full scale civil war in Iraq. Some US generals look at the 'success' of their war in Afghanistan, and want to find a local force comparable to the Afghan Northern Alliance. Afghanistan was far from what most people would term a 'success', and the political, social and military situation in Iraq is completely different.
Yet the Financial Times recently noted debates in the US over whether 'to use the 30,000 or so combined Kurdish troops to act as a ground force in the event of an assault on the Baghdad regime'. There has been talk of encouraging around 10,000 Shia Muslims in the south of Iraq to rise up.
Any civil war involving all these forces would be brutal. Tens of thousands of people would be killed. In the north of Iraq Kurdish groups are split into rival wings and have fought each other several times. Civil war could spill over into wider regional conflict.
Some Kurdish groups are sponsored by Iran, which also has links with some Shia groups in the south. Turkey is likely to intervene. It is a key US ally, but with its own agenda. The oilfields in northern Iraq would be a major flashpoint.
The bosses' Financial Times reports, 'The US has no wish to see the Kurds move a short distance south and take the oil-rich towns of Mosul and Kirkuk. There are indications that the Kurds will attempt to do just that.' This, the paper notes, 'has prompted widespread speculation that Turkish government forces would intervene to secure Mosul which historically has had a large Turkmen population'.
US vote is no mandate
By Brian Campbell from Left Turn in the US
BUSH'S REPUBLICAN Party won an election victory of historic proportions on Tuesday of last week. Not since the 1930s has a president seen his party increase its representation in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Republicans want to forge ahead with more tax cuts for the rich, the creation of the ominous sounding Department of Homeland Security, and increasing defence spending.
At least this is how the Republicans would like to see things. Fortunately, it won't be that simple. The last time the Republicans enjoyed such power in Congress was in 1994 when Newt Gingrich oversaw a landslide victory that he promised would usher in a 'Republican revolution'.
He lasted barely two years, and today is a tired, cynical political analyst. Two main factors contributed to Bush's victory. First, voter turnout hit an all-time low. In New York State only 32.4 percent of the electorate voted. The story was the same across the country.
The second factor was summed up by the spokesman for the State Board of Elections when talking about the Democratic Party's candidate for New York State governor:
'He didn't excite anybody. Nobody excited anybody.' It was impossible to understand what the Democrats stood for. Bush was vulnerable on the two major issues - Iraq and the economy. Opinion polls showed that 59 percent of voters were concerned about the US economy, and only 6 percent were worried about Saddam and weapons of mass destruction.
Yet the Democrats never challenged Bush on his war drive or laid out an alternative economic plan. Bush is certain to run into concerted opposition. The majority of Americans oppose another war in Iraq. Anti-war groups occupy every corner of the country. The Enron-led corporate scandals of last year have meant that bosses are held in contempt. The Green Party did not fair well on election day.
But Ralph Nader will continue to rally thousands against Bush's pro-business agenda and may run for president in 2004. At a recent rally of 2,000 on Wall Street, Nader said, 'There should be bus loads of Wall Street bankers heading to jail for the money they've stolen from American workers.'
With a rising anti-war movement and a weakening economy, Bush may not be celebrating for long.