Optimistic Scenario

Gordon Mohr gojomo@usa.net
Mon, 17 Mar 2003 19:47:43 -0800


While there's a certain morbid delight in imagining worst-case 
outcomes, we should also consider best-case and likely-case 
scenarios.

I tend to think there's a good chance the situation will unfold
as follows:

- "Shock and awe" turns out to really be "bluff and roll". 
  We *could* bomb the hell out of every plausible Iraqi regime
  target with our bigger, better, and more accurate weaponry, 
  but why? They're weaker than they were 12 years ago, and very 
  few of their people want to fight us. Most targets we'd rather
  possess than destroy. 

  So except for some select command and elite unit targets,
  we might go easy over most of the Iraqi forces, just dropping
  a few token bombs as a signal: "It's begun."

- That signal will cause a stampede of Iraqis racing to switch 
  sides. Except for a small cadre of Baath loyalists, the country 
  will swap allegiance lightning-fast. Saddam will either flee
  or be holed up, Manuel Noriega-style, in some fortress or temple,
  perhaps with hostages. 

- A few nerve-gas missiles or artillery shells may be used, but
  with no more impact than in Gulf War I. Postwar revelations
  will show ambitious but mostly inept and resource-starved
  covert Iraqi WMD programs -- the kind of thing that'd be scary
  if left alone for a few years but no big problem today. (Doves
  will use this as evidence war was unnecessary; hawks will
  use this as evidence we acted in time.)

- A last-ditch effort to transfer some of their most dangerous
  materials, technology, and know-how to other rogue organizations
  will partially succeed. A lot of this dispersal will be tracked
  and cleaned up postwar, a little won't, and will eventually be
  used in other varied terrorist attacks. (Doves will blame
  these attacks on the war resentment and dispersal; hawks will
  say the attacks would have been even worse had the source not
  been shut down.)

- There will be a postwar feeling of euphoria; Iraqis who've
  been taught for decades to insincerely kiss up to a brutal 
  government will enthusiastically kiss up to the more liberal
  occupation regime, at least for a while. Countries that 
  opposed the war will gladly jump on the rebuilding/peacekeeping
  bandwagon. Even France won't be completely shut out, despite 
  embarassing postwar revelations of dealing around the sanctions 
  that cause minor domestic scandals. 

- There will be continued ethnic violence, terrorist attacks, and
  on-and-off-again insurrections. Though the pain will be small 
  compared to the nightmare scenarios being shopped about right, 
  the narrative spin will still be, "not as easy as it looked,
  this could go own forever, are we in a quagmire." The euphoria
  will fade, but an Iraq that's a little more like Kuwait/Qatar/
  Jordan/Turkey is still a giant win for the region and the free 
  world. 

- A stable, more liberal regime in Iraq will allow the US to take
  a harder line against the sponsors of radicalism and terrorism
  in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran. The economic flurry caused by
  rebuilding, modernizing, and free trade in oil will be generate
  envy in some of Iraq's neighbors. 

Sure, this is an optimistic chain of events. 

But after hearing doomsday scenarios about what would happen in eastern 
europe as the soviet bloc governments fell, or in the collapsing USSR, 
or in Gulf War I, or in the Afghanistan campaign, and seeing how those
all turned much better than many predicted, we should be ready 
for a reasonably positive result here. 

- Gordon