Optimistic Scenario

Gordon Mohr gojomo@usa.net
Mon, 17 Mar 2003 22:09:41 -0800

Jeff Bone writes:
> So, tangent:  most of the bombs we'll be deploying are going to be 
> GPS-guided.  Saddam's been experimenting with GPS jamming technology 
> for the last few years.  What do you think the chances are of 
> significant (and I mean significant) "unanticipated" collateral damages?

My uninformed (but reasoned!) belief is that any signal strong enough
to jam GPS is pretty easy to locate and destroy. Alternatively,
military-grade receivers or fixed reference booster beacons may be
able to offset much jamming.

So I'd expect traditional commingling of civilian and military 
structures to cause more civilian deaths than any newfangled GPS

And still: I think aerial bombardment has been (intentionally)
overemphasized in the lead-up to war. We want defections this
time around, not destruction, so I think the bombardment may be
surprisingly light.

 [forwarded analysis from ex intelligence op]:
> > Analysis says .5M inner-circle Ba'ath loyalists 2-3 DoS away from SH 
> > out of a population of 23M.  Many Takriti, like SH - almost all Sunni, 
> > a few exceptions like Tariq Aziz, but closely controlled.  Vested 
> > interest in maintaining status quo, believe better off under SH than 
> > in populist / democratic state.  Could muck up the op by digging in.  
> > Urban conflict if this happens ugly and protracted.  Lots of 
> > casualties for the assault force.

But even such loyalists can't believe they can win. So while they
might calculatingly prefer Saddam to no Saddam, if we create an
air of inevitability about the eventual outcome, they'll calculatingly
prefer not fighting to fighting. 

> > - 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.
> I think this is a bit overly optimistic.  I think it's hard to 
> overestimate the depth and intensity of the anti-American sentiment and 
> animus we're building. 

With a successful war, all that anti-American sentiment will morph
back into the generic, free-floating background envy/resentment from 
whence it came. 
> France?  Even if they offer to help, I doubt we'd let them.  I actually 
> think more Americans are more pissed off at the French than they are 
> Saddam. (Ridiculous reaction, but there you have it.  I've seen folks 
> like Bill O'Reilly etc. get more frothy and rabid about the French in 
> the last few days than they ever were at Clinton.  Boggles the mind, 
> really.)

I think they'll still get a token role. They'll want to save face,
show that they actually care about the Iraqi people's welfare, and
we'll want to restore the facade of Atlantic unity. 

France should be replaced on the security council, though -- by
India. That might be an outcome of the next 5+ years of international
realignment. (In fairness to Europe, the UK's permanent seat should 
become a pan-EU seat.)

> > - 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.
> What about an Iraq that's more like the West Bank?  Or even one that's 
> more like a post-Taliban Afghanistan?  This is a country divided, with 
> signifant parts of the population being ignorant, repressed, 
> militaristic, tribal peoples living in poverty.  That's a bad recipe.  
> And there's never been any cultural unity there, aside from that 
> enforced by military dictators.  There are deep cultural rifts in its 
> population between the Sunni, the Shia, and the Kurds.  It's hard to 
> imagine any single political system encompassing the interests of all 
> --- the very idea of a unified Iraq is something of a Western artifice 
> and always has been.

Everyplace sucked, and was riven with poverty and strife, at one time 
or another. Some places got better. Maybe Iraq has the resources,
culture, and weariness with the alternative to build a civil
society. Maybe it doesn't yet. It deserves a try, free of the
Baath malignancy. 

Maybe Iraq should be three states. Sometimes breaking up artificial
nations is what has to happen -- even if we can't admit that now.
Maybe some loose confederation would work; the quasi-independent
northern Iraq seems to be doing fairly well despite technically
being within the same "nation" as the Baath regime. 

> > - 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.
> I think this is where the rubber leaves the road --- albeit gently --- 
> bro.  It's hard for me to imagine how installing a secular regime that 
> will be viewed as our puppet --- or worse, being forced to maintain an 
> American or even international occupation government there for a 
> protracted time --- is going to increase stability among the 
> fundamentalist and other anti-American factions throughout the region.

People like winners, freedom, and prosperity. Violent Islamic 
fundamentalism (and Baathish pan-Arab socialism before it) have had
runs of popularity because they seemed to have some momentum for a 
while, getting things done, offering some hope of pride and meaning
where other aspirations had been thwarted. If they're demonstrated to be 
dead ends, and an alternative performs better, people can switch 
allegiences quickly. 

- Gordon