The Idiot Prince Will Have His War
2003, From The Wilderness Publications, www.copvcia.com.
All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or
posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes
[FTW asked retired U.S. Army
Special Forces Master Sergeant Stan Goff to re-examine what we can expect on the battlefield when the United States begins its invasion. The former instructor of military science at West Point describes a scenario that is vastly
different from what was expected last September before
the Bush administration encountered effective economic
and political opposition. Now denied the luxuries
of a multi-front invasion from Turkey and Saudi Arabia the U.S. war strategy has changed. The bottom line is that a great many more innocent
civilians are going to be killed. And the first and
possibly crippling breakdown of U.S. plans will happen in Kurdestan. – MCR]
March 17, 2003, 1500 hrs PST (FTW) -- The full-scale, unilateral US invasion of Iraq appears – to many – to be imminent as this is written.
In just hours President Bush is expected to give Saddam
Hussein a 72-hour ultimatum to leave the country or
else the bombs start falling. I have a reservation
or two left about that, based partly on hope, but partly
on the even riskier assumption that this administration
realizes that it has miscalculated and that the consequences
of invasion may now outweigh the risks – from their
standpoint – of no invasion.
Bush regime seems to have a clear understanding of
what desperate straits
they were in well before 9-11. The empire is in decline,
and this means Americans will have to reconcile themselves
to a new world in which their profligate lifestyle
becomes a thing of the past. Americans do not understand
that this is an irremediable situation. That is why
we are witnessing the beginning of what is possibly
the most dangerous period in human history.
administration decides miraculously in the next few
days not to invade,
the most unthinkable risks will recede significantly. But
this Junta has repeatedly displayed a reckless adventurist
streak that alarms even their own political allies,
and it appears that the hotter heads will prevail.
The actual tactical
situation, never terribly auspicious because of the
Kurdish wild card that receives far too little attention
(and which I will address later), has deteriorated
for the US. The
denial of a ground front from both Saudi Arabia and Turkey has completely reshuffled the tactical deck, and caused
many a sleepless night for harried commanders from
Task Force Headquarters all the way down to lonely
infantry platoon leaders.
ground attack will now go through Kuwait, a single
front across which an
unbelievable series of heavy, expensive, high-maintenance
convoys will pass, many on long journeys to 18 provincial
capitals, 19 military bases, 8 major oil fields,
over 1,000 miles of pipeline, key terrain along minority
Shia and Kurdish regions, as well as Baghdad. But
attacking forces are not the only mechanized ground
The huge logistical
trains that must consolidate objectives, set up long-term
lines of communication, and deliver daily support,
will also be held up until airheads are seized within Iraq to
augment ground transportation with airlifts of people
and equipment. This shifts a higher emphasis
onto airhead seizures (and therefore Ranger units),
and forces the security of the airheads themselves
before they can become fully functional.
may require a siege, which has already been planned,
but now that
siege doesn’t begin without a much lengthier invasion
timeline that depends much more heavily on airborne
and airmobile forces that can be dropped onto key facilities
to hold them until mechanized reinforcement can arrive. At
this writing, the 101st Airborne (which
is actually a helicopter division) has not even completed
its deployment into the region. Sections of the 82nd Airborne
(a genuine paratroop division) are still occupying Afghanistan.
increased dependence on airlift is further complicated
by weather. While
extreme summer heat doesn’t reach Iraq until
May, the pre-summer sand storms have already begun. US commanders
have pooh-poohed the effect of these storms, but they
are simply putting on a brave face for the
public. Sand can be a terrible enemy. It clogs engine
intakes, just as it clogs eyes and noses, gathers in
the folds of skin, falls in food, works its way into
every conceivable piece of equipment, and takes a miserable
toll on materiel, machinery and troops. When air operations
become more critical to overall mission accomplishment,
and when light forces (like airmobile and airborne
divisions) are operating independent of heavier mechanized
logistics, weather like sand storms matters...a lot.
order of battle is widely available on the web, and
there's no reason
to recount it here. The reason is, even with all these
debilities and setbacks, the results of the invasion
are certain. Iraq will
be militarily defeated and occupied. There will
be no sustained Iraqi guerrilla resistance. There
will be no Stalingrad in Baghdad. We
should not buy into the US bluster about their invincibility, but neither should we buy into Iraqi
Last September retired
Marine General Paul Van Riper was selected to play
the Opposing Forces (OPFOR) Commander named Saddam
Hussein for a 3-week-long, computer simulated invasion
called Operation Millennium Challenge.
He defeated the entire
multi-billion-dollar US electronic warfare intelligence
apparatus by sending messages via motorcycle-mounted
couriers to organize the preemptive destruction of
sixteen US ships,
using pleasure vessels. At that point, the
exercise controllers repeatedly intervened and told
him what to do; move these defenders off the beach. Stop
giving out commands from mosque loudspeakers. Turn
on your radar so our planes can see you. Because every
time Van Riper was left to his own devices, he was
defeating the US.
While all this is surely amusing, does it really mean
the Iraqis will defeat the US during
Certainly not. It will, however, make it far
more expensive, slow, difficult, and deadly for Iraqis.
The Iraqi military won't prevail because they can't. They are weak, under-resourced,
poorly led, and demoralized. What the delays mean is that the US will
depend on sustaining the initiative and momentum through brutal, incessant
bombing designed to destroy every soldier, every
installation, every vehicle, every field kitchen in the Iraqi military.
will inflict terrifying casualties on the Iraqi military. There
will be collateral damage to civilians, even with attempts
that damage, and in case we fail to remember, soldiers
are like everyone else. They have families and loved
What is uncertain is
This is the variable
that is never factored into the thinking of our native
political lumpen-bourgeoisie; their deeds plant the
seeds of future and furious resistance.
million Iraqi soldiers die, and 100,000 civilians are
killed in collateral
damage, we have to remember that there are at least
(for the sake of argument) five people who intensely
love each of the dead. And if we think of the grief
of millions after this slaughter, and of the conversion
of that grief into rage, and combine that with the
organization of the internecine struggles based on
historical ethnic fault lines (that the Ba'ath Party
has repressed), we begin to appreciate the explosive
complexity of post-invasion Iraq.
This invasion will also
ignite the fires of Arab and Muslim humiliation and
anger throughout the region.
Most importantly, in
my view, there are the Kurds.
who has followed the news has heard about "Saddam's" gassing
of the Kurds. That's how it is portrayed. Nonetheless,
few people have bothered to find out what the truth
or even to investigate this claim.
Stephen Pelletiere was the Central Intelligence Agency's
senior political analyst on Iraq during
the Iran-Iraq war. He was also a professor
at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000. In both roles, he had access to classified material
from Washington related
to the Persian Gulf. In
1991, he headed an Army investigation into Iraqi military
capability. That classified report went into
great detail on Halabja.
is the Kurdish town where hundreds of people were apparently
poisoned in a chemical weapons attack
in March 1988. Few Americans even knew that much. They
only have the article of religious faith, "Saddam gassed
his own people."
fact, according to Pelletiere – an ex-CIA analyst,
and hardly a raging leftist like yours truly – the
gassing occurred in the midst of a battle between Iraqi
and Iranian armed forces.
further notes that a "need to know" document that circulated
around the US Defense Intelligence Agency indicated
that US intelligence
doesn't believe it was Iraqi chemical
munitions that killed and aimed the Kurdish residents
of Halabja. It was Iranian. The condition of the bodies
indicated cyanide-based poisoning. The Iraqis were
using mustard gas in that battle. The Iranians used
The lack of public critical
scrutiny of this and virtually all current events is
also evident on the issue of the Kurds themselves.
issue will come out into the open, with the vast area
that is Kurdistan, with its insurgent armed bodies, overlaying Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and even parts of Syria, which will realign the politics and military of the
entire region in yet unpredictable ways.
As part of the effort
to generate an Iraqi opposition, the US has
permitted Northern Iraqi Kurdistan to exercise a strong
element of national political autonomy since
the 1991 war. This is a double-edged sword for the US in
its current war preparations, particularly given this
administration’s predisposition for pissing all
over its closest allies. Iraq's
Northern border is with Turkey,
who has for years favored the interests of its own
Turkmens in Southern Turkish Kurdistan at the expense
of the Kurds, who have waged a guerrilla war for self-determination
against the Turks since the 1970s.
The Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan or
PKK) (Kurdish Worker's Party), Turkish Kurds fighting
for an independent Kurdish state in southeast Turkey,
was singled out on the US international terrorist organization
list several years ago, in deference to fellow NATO
member, Turkey. PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan is so popular
with the Kurds that Turkey was forced to commute his death sentence,
subsequent to his capture, to life imprisonment, for
fear that his execution would spark an uprising.
Other non-leftist Kurdish independence
organizations developed and alternatively allied with
and split with the PKK and each other. Turkey now claims that PKK bases are being constructed
in Iran, with Iranian complicity, from which to
launch strikes against Southern Turkey.
Groups other than the PKK, more acceptable to the US, predominantly the Kurdistan
Democratic Party (KDP) and the Kurdistan Patriotic
Union (PUK) have been administering Northern Iraqi
Kurdistan as an autonomous zone under the protective
of the US no-fly zone. The Turkish government fears the influence
of this section of Kurdistan in the wake of a US military action that topples Saddam Hussein’s
Ba'ath government, because Kurds have declared their
intention of declaring an independent Kurdish state
there. The Turks find this absolutely unacceptable,
and have declared forthrightly they will invade to
prevent this happening. They have also threatened to
attack Kurds in Iran, but this is a far less credible threat.
Kurdish nationalists have long experience
with betrayals and alliances of convenience, and know
American perfidy very well. They have declared at the
outset that in the event of an invasion, they will
defend themselves from Turkish incursions. They are
not willing to lose the autonomy they have gained over
the last eleven years in Northern Iraq. This not only
puts them at odds with US ally Turkey, it potentially
puts them at odds with
the US itself, even with US wishes that they participate
in indigenous actions against Iraqi forces. The US does not want that region destabilized
in the post-invasion period, because Kirkuk in the
East of Iraqi Kurdistan is a huge oil producing zone.
The very first complication of post-invasion Iraq will likely be the demand that US commanders
disarm the Kurds.
Northern Iraq could easily become contested
terrain involving partisan warfare between Turks, Kurds
three factions, the Iranians, and the US, with the Syrians in a position to play
the silent interloper. This would amount to the devolution
of Northern Iraq, a key strategic region, into another Afghanistan or Somalia. It is already straining relationships
between Turkey and the United States, NATO allies, even as the NATO alliance
itself comes under severe strain, with a Euro-American
trade war as a backdrop.
And the Kurds
have the motivation, tenacity, and fighting spirit
to do those kinds of things that
General Van Riper did to defeat the Rumsfeld "Robo-Military" in
Operation Millennium Challenge.
We begin to see how
the Bush Junta is the equivalent of a mad bee keeper,
that no longer leaves the hive stable and merely
smokes it into a stupor to harvest the honey. It now
proposes to simply start swatting all the bees and
taking the honey by brute force.
see the war as an extricable, external phenomenon.
We have to see
it as it is embedded in the larger complexities of
the whole period. When the cruise missiles fly at 400
per day, that is 400 times
$1.3 million in self-destructing technology. 30 days
of this is $15.6 billion in Cruise missiles alone.
This is great news for Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin,
but it is bad news for public schools. At the antiwar
demonstration in Washington DC,
I met many more teachers, now wearing buttons that
said "money for education
not war." This is a reflection of the deepening consciousness
of the American people, but one that has not yet grasped
the depth of the crisis that drives the war. Nor does
it measure how every missile’s impact increases the
rage of the Southwestern Asian masses and the justifiable
anxieties of Africa and East Asia.
real bet that Bush & Co.
make on this war is that it can secure oil at $15 a
barrel, rescue dollar hegemony, gain the ability to
wage its economic war on China and Europe, and inaugurate a fresh upwave of real
profit. That will not happen.
the invasion goes, we will certainly see plenty of
images of cheering "liberated" Iraqis.
This is common after any successful military incursion,
a combination of real relief in some cases, as we saw
in the first stage of the 1994 Haiti invasion, but also of self-defense and opportunism.
costs incurred by the war, combined with the insane
Bush tax cuts for
the rich, will deepen the Bush regime’s economic conundrums.
The coming social crisis in the US will
emerge against a backdrop of elevated public expectations. The hyperbole employed by this administration
to justify this war, against rapidly strengthening
resistance and a corresponding loss of credibility
outside the indoctrinated and gullible United States,
led them to warn the public about perpetual "war on
terror," but with the sugar coating that there would
be no domestic economic sacrifice. The mountain of
personal and institutional debt in the US, the threat of deflation, the trade deficit, the overcapacity,
the rising unemployment and insecurity, all these factors
will be worsened by the Bush doctrines. And Bush, like
his father before him, will go down. Along with him,
Tony Blair and Jose Maria Aznar will go down in political
flames, and it will be a long time indeed before anyone
can align themselves with the US as an ally. As in the last elections for the Republic
of Korea, candidates will find that
election victory depends on now independent one can
prove oneself of the United States.
We have had our course
charted now, and the military option is all the US ruling class really has to maintain its dominance.
there will certainly be increased asymmetric warfare, "terrorism," if
you will, directed at Americans, American institutions,
American targets. And when the rest of the world recognizes
how thinly spread the US military is, thinly spread
physically, but also economically because it is not
a sustainable institution in its current incarnation,
rebellions will occur. They have already started. Then
the response of the weakening US will be to lash out,
often with totally unforeseeable consequences, just
as the consequences
of this impending invasion are unforeseeable.
Our military might is
no longer a sign of strength, and the US military is not invincible. Its use as both
first and last resort is a sign of profound systemic
weakness. That its employment could destabilize the
world, and cause us to stumble into a Third World War
is a real possibility.
We in the antiwar movement
have struggled to protect the Iraqi people. We may
fail in that. But as resistance fighters in WWII or
national liberation fighters in the post-colonial era,
we must differentiate setbacks from defeat, when we
suffer those setbacks we can not be demoralized and
demobilized. We will keep our eyes on the fact that
the system itself is failing and this adventure is
a symptom of that failure, and continue to work for
the political destruction of our current regime as
a tactical necessity. The perfect storm is coming.
It's in the genetic code of the system right now and
inevitable. And while we don't know how it will look,
we have to keep our eyes on the prize - emancipation
from the whole system, and let that be our lodestar. Never
quit. Never. We are in the stream of history, and we
have been given
a grave and momentous responsibility. Every day we
delayed them was a victory.
There is a long struggle
ahead, and it will become more terrible. But just as
those before us fought slavery, apartheid, fascism,
and colonialism, we will take up our historical task
with confidence and determination, and assert our humanity
against these gangsters.
Freedom is the recognition