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US strategy, 13-22/12/01 (1)

US strategy, 13-22/12/01 (1)

*  Searching for Saddam's replacement [This appears to be ex-cronies of
Clinton gathering together ex-cronies of S.Hussein, top-ranking officers of
the Iraqi army at the time of the Iran/Kurdish war, with a view to
encouraging a coup d¹état. This, it must never be forgotten, has always been
the US ideal - that Saddam should be overthrown by someone as like him as
possible. The David Mack and Michael Eisenstadt articles in the URL onlys
below, may be related to this conference]
*  End Iraq [Although this article makes unpleasant reading, is deliberately
and offensively racist, the logic of it is fairly inescapable, if we take
the key sentence to be the following: ŒNothing is so dangerous as leaving an
aggrieved enemy hanging on and able to strike back - he should either be
befriended outright (the French approach) or destroyed¹ (He goes on to talk
about Hannibal. It is very interesting to see how naturally and universally
the US has taken to identifying itself with the Roman Empire). I myself
favour what is here called the ŒFrench¹ approach (if only it were) but
recognise that the Americans are incapable of it. In which case the logic
that flows from the second alternative, Œdestroyed¹ (Cartago delenda est)
prevails. It is laid out here quite well in all its glory. The only false
note, the only piece of obvious hypocrisy, comes when, after immeasurable
contempt has been expressed for all Arabs, everywhere, the writer mumbles
the phrase Œmaking it clear that the war was against the regime and not the
Iraqi people¹. Perhaps the same could have been said of the Roman campaign
against Carthage. There is an interesting quote from King Faisal in 1933
expressing great contempt for his subjects (the people who were delivered
over to him by British imperialism). Lowry quotes it approvingly, but if
there is any truth in it then we can only be all the more impressed at
S.Hussein¹s achievement in welding such unpromising material into a united
nation able to sustain the horrors of the 10 year war with Iran, followed by
the horrors imposed by ourselves and our American allies]
*  The Iraq Hawks [Long article in the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh laying
out in some detail the INC proposal for overthrowing S.Hussein. It relies
heavily on the Shi¹ites and on Iran, possibly because after the previous
effort, from Kurdistan, relations with the Kurds are frayed. One assumes
that the conference that is the subject of Searching for Saddam¹s
replacement, above, is a Sunni military establishment reaction]
*  Seymour Hersh: U.S. debates move on Iraq
*  Is Iraq next for U.S. terror campaign? [A very brief summary of the above
items, plus disclaimers from Powell and Rice.]

AND, IN US STRATEGY, 13-22/12/01 (2)

*  Washington hawks get power boost [Guardian article on the impetus
currently enjoyed by the warmongers]
*  NSC head: Iran, Iraq, Syria must be confronted [This is actually about
Israeli strategy but the distinction between Israeli and US strategy with
regard to keeping Arabs in line is becoming a little blurred]
*  `U.S. has no plans to strike Iraq at present' [Condoleeza Rice addressing
a conference in Israel]
*  Liberate Iraq, Unleash Democracy [This article gives an interesting
account of the 1995/6 debacle in the Kurdish zone, indicating that the INC
were comprehensively betrayed by the CIA. It doesn¹t mention that Iraqi
troops entered the autonomous zone at the invitation of the KDP because the
PUK was effectively supporting an invasion from Iran. We can only assume
that the US breathed a huge sigh of relief when S.Hussein intervened to sort
the whole thing out (Œclean it up¹, as the Americans might say), despite the
massacre of the INC presence which ensued. The article also shows the
academic specialist in Muslim fundamentalism, Bernard Lewis, as a supported
of the goal of US world hegemony]
*  The march to Baghdad [Extract expressing Israeli unease that if Saddam is
faced with certain death nothing will restrain him from doing something
unimaginably terrible]
*  U.S. massing its troops near Iraq
*  Middle Israel: The Babylonian Option[A comparatively benign Jewish vision
of the post Saddam settlement, leaving us wondering how the ŒMiddle Israel¹
phrase crept into the title]
*  The spymaster's prescription [A really nasty piece of work from James
Woolsey, speaking in Israel. It leaves me regretting that literature from
the Nazi and Fascist eras is not more readily available. It would make for
interesting comparisons, for example with the following: 'When this is over,
either we are going to be held in contempt in the Mideast as we are now, or
we are going to be feared and respected. There is nothing in between.'  In
one respect, Woolsey does differ from Hitler, perhaps learning from his
experience, when he advises Israel that ŒOccupations of a hostile population
are not easy to run¹. He suggests, as if Israel needed the advice, dividing
the Palestinians into Œself-governing¹ bantustans entirely at Israel¹s mercy
and rigorously excluded from access to the Israeli economy. In fact much
like the Nazi ghetto system. He concludes, however, with what one assumes is
a light-hearted touch of satirical humour:  "For democracies, war is the
last resort. It's the first resort for dictators who need foreign enemies."]

URLs ONLY:,6903,619658,00.html
*  Iraq after Saddam
by David L Mack
The Observer , 16th December
This is basically the same text that appeared in last weeks (8-14/12/01)
news report as ŒUS Policy Toward Iraq¹, this time presented as a newspaper
article. It indicates all the good things Iraqis can expect once somehow
S.Hussein vanishes. They may, for a start, be allowed to breathe
*  How to unseat Saddam
by Michael Eisenstadt
Asia Times, 18th December
[Œa condensed version of an essay that appears in the Winter 2001-02 issue
of The National Interest ( Michael Eisenstadt is a
senior fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.) Foreign
Policy Research Institute, 1528 Walnut Street, Suite 610, Philadelphia, PA
19102-3684. For information, contact Alan Luxenberg at 215-732 3774,
extension 105 or email or visit www.fpri.org¹
These details of where the article comes from are the only bits of hard
information on offer. Otherwise its just a bit of armchair strategy of the
sort anyone could put together. And people get paid for this sort of thing]
*  Iraqi opposition seeks Iran and US help to topple Saddam
IRNA, 17th December
Essentially a summary of the Seymour Hersh article given elsewhere, but
worth noticing that the Iranian news agency doesn¹t deny that Iran could be
used in this way, and not also this curious quote: The INC is "not the only
Iraqi opposition group being funded by the Bush Administration and not the
only group capable of working through Iran," the New Yorker quoted a senior
US government official saying,3604,619842,00.html
*  Iraqi opposition urges US to make war on Baghdad
by David Teather
The Guardian, 17th December
Essentially taken from the Seymour Hersh article.


by Jeff Stein
Salon, 13th December

WASHINGTON -- A stream of ex-Iraqi military officers has been invited to
Washington in recent weeks to explore options for overthrowing Saddam

The unprecedented meetings in early November and again last Friday, held
under the auspices of the Middle East Institute, a private group headed by
top former U.S. State Department officials, amount to a quiet effort by some
former and present Washington officials to add military teeth to -- if not
supplant -- the main exile organization supported by Washington for almost a
decade, the Iraqi National Congress.

Indeed, the INC, led by Ahmad Chalabi, scion of a onetime Iraqi banking
family, was not even invited to the first meeting on Nov. 1, which featured
about a dozen former ranking Iraqi military officers plus a half dozen
onetime civilian officials in the Baghdad regime. An assistant to Chalabi
showed up at the conference visibly miffed, along with some Pentagon
officials who have backed the INC, officials said.

The ex-Iraqi military officers attending that first meeting included Najib
Al Salihi, a onetime general and chief of staff in the elite Republican
Guard; former Brigadier Gen. Fawzi Al Shamary, an important figure among
mid-level Sunni officers; and Faris Hussein Shahed, a former Iraqi army
colonel and ambassador to Germany. Their airline tickets and other expenses
were paid for by the State Department, according to a source involved with
the conferences. A half-dozen other former senior Iraqi officers accepted
the invitation but could not get cleared for visas in time.

The topic of the gathering was "The Iraqi Armed Forces After Saddam
Hussein." David Mack, a deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern
and South Asian affairs during the first Bush and Clinton administrations,
presided over the meeting, the first-ever gathering of so many former Iraqi
military officers under one roof in Washington. "The fact that this is
taking place sends a very important message to people inside the country ...
and can play a role in actually stimulating people to take the risk to
overthrow the regime," said Mack.

Said a former CIA operations officer who attended the sessions: "The most
important business was the fact that this was held, and that there was a
discussion of the military post-Saddam, and how to go about doing it."

"The message was just that fact," he said. "This is not by any means all the
Iraqi military officers that are interested in doing something like this.
This was billed as a working group, a small group of people getting together
to toss some things around and -- who knows -- they may do it again."

U.S. attendees included Whitley Bruner, a former CIA chief of station in
Iraq, and Edward S. Walker Jr., the State Department's top Middle East
official in the Clinton administration, now president of the Middle East
Institute, which hosted the conferences. Talks were given by Kenneth
Pollack, a former official of the CIA and the White House National Security
Council, and Michael Eisenstadt, a specialist on Arab military affairs on
temporary assignment to the U.S. Central Command.

Bush administration military officials declined to invite the Iraqi military
officers to the Pentagon, although some private meetings were held,
according to sources. Iyad Allawi, a former Iraqi intelligence chief and now
head of the Iraqi National Accord, a London-based rival to Chalabi's INC,
met with senior officials from the CIA when he was in Washington for the
Dec. 7 conference, a former CIA officer with experience in Iraq said. "As
far as I know, these are periodic higher-level discussions ... the DDO
[Deputy Director of Operations] probably makes an appearance."

Allawi has argued that the exiles should form a "military commission" of
notable former Iraqi officers, and then seek U.S. backing. Allawi led a coup
conspiracy that was crushed by Saddam Hussein in the mid-1990s.

But some exiles, as well as U.S. officials, are queasy about dealing with
such figures as Nizar Khazraji, a former Iraqi army chief of staff, now
under investigation in Denmark, where he lives in exile, for human rights
violations under his command in northern Iraq. The State Department is
wringing its hands over whether to even talk with Khazraji, an informed
source said.

On the second day of the first conference, Nov. 2, three former Iraqi
civilian officials were scheduled to meet with Phil Mudd, a member of the
White House National Security Council, and John Hannah, an aide on Middle
East affairs to Vice President Dick Cheney. Ryan Crocker, assistant
secretary of state for Near East affairs, met with both former Iraqi
military and civilian officials, sources said.

The effort to organize ex-military officials adds a new front in the
bureaucratic battle over what to do about Iraq, which has heated up
considerably since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, in which some
officials see the hand of Saddam Hussein. Republicans, including Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, have thrown their
weight behind the INC and Chalabi. Chalabi's critics, mostly in the State
Department and CIA, argue that he has no following in Iraq, especially among
military officers. Chalabi is also a Shiite Muslim, while the bulk of Iraq's
military corps is led by Sunnis.

Chalabi, educated at MIT and the University of Chicago, was initially
recruited by the CIA in 1992 to stitch together an exile organization, but
lost the confidence of Clinton officials when he mounted an unauthorized
effort to foment a military revolt in Iraq in 1996. For the rest of
Clinton's term, Capitol Hill Republicans -- and some Democrats -- on Capital
Hill used him as a battering ram against the White House for its
"do-nothing" policy toward Saddam Hussein, frequently inviting him to
testify in hearings on Iraq. Chalabi's name has been invoked less frequently
since the Republicans captured the White House, but he still remains a
favorite at the Pentagon, where he was a guest of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz as
recently as last month.

"Somebody was saying at one point that Chalabi has more influence on the
banks of the Potomac than on the banks of the Tigris -- by far," joked a
former CIA operations officer with long experience in Iraqi affairs.

Another source, a former military officer who has worked in secret
operations in Iraq, said he personally liked Chalabi but didn't think the
former banker, whose family left Baghdad when the monarchy was toppled in
1958, was the appropriate leader for a military campaign against Saddam.
"He's really smooth, but maybe not the guy to head up the opposition," the
officer said. "As Michael Corleone said in 'The Godfather,' we need a
wartime consigliere."

Another of Chalabi's challenges is that he heads an organization that
includes groups of Kurds and others who are often at odds and don't
automatically defer to him. "He always says he represents them, but they
never say he represents them," said a diplomat familiar with all the groups.

"I would say that Chalabi is effective in that he knows the U.S. system,
he's effective in the U.S., he's effective in Congress. He's effective in
that he can get people to accept his story in the U.S.," the diplomat said.
"He's not effective there."

"What you do need," he added, "is a centrist. Iraq is not going to be led by
the Kurds. Iraq is not going to be led by the Shia. You need to have a
centrist. And Chalabi, for lack of anybody else, has at least filled that
role." Now, he and many others who favor toppling Saddam Hussein say, it's
time to make inroads where it counts in Iraq: among the leaders of his
military units.

Whatever the Bush administration decides to do, the swift success of the
Afghan campaign has put extra pressure on Washington officials to come up
with a plan for dealing with Iraq. A decision could come as early as next

"Mid-January is the moment of truth," said a source familiar with events.

About the writer : Jeff Stein is the coauthor, with Khidhir Hamza, of
"Saddam's Bombmaker: The Daring Escape of the Man Who Built Iraq's Secret
Weapon." He writes frequently for Salon on national security issues from

by Richard Lowry, NR Editor.
National Review, 15th October

Colin Powell helped save Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War, and seems bent
on saving him again. If Saddam escapes the full wrath of the U.S. war on
terrorism, he will once more have Powell and the dictates of a great
international coalition to thank. It was to preserve the Gulf War coalition
- for what exactly, no one knows - that Powell, as chairman of the Joint
Chiefs, urged the first President Bush to stop short of Baghdad in 1991.
Now, as secretary of state, Powell is urging George W. to lay off the Iraqi
dictator for the purpose of keeping intact yet another broad international
coalition. Saddam should be the biggest fan of U.S. "multilateralism" this
side of 1 U.N. Plaza.

Early indications are that Iraq had a hand in the September 11 attacks. But
firm evidence should be unnecessary for the U.S. to act. It doesn't take
careful detective work to know that Saddam Hussein is a perpetual enemy of
the United States. But it's more than a personal matter. Iraq's Baathist
regime will be totalitarian and expansionist, Saddam or no. Accordingly, the
solution to the Iraqi problem needs to go deeper than a random
assassination: It must destroy the Baathist regime root and branch. At the
very least, Iraq should be allowed to be dismembered by its perpetually
warring factions, or, ideally, invaded and occupied by the American military
and made into a protectorate.

If an ineffectual U.N. liberalism characterized Clinton policy toward Saddam
- resolutions, inspections, etc. - it was a desiccated realism that left him
in power in the first place. The first Bush's national security adviser,
Brent Scowcroft, and other Bushies made a fetish of borders. In this case,
the casual handiwork of the British Foreign Office - which outlined modern
Iraq with a pencil and ruler in 1918 - was elevated to high geopolitical
art. The entity called "Iraq" had to be kept together at all costs. As
Daniel Byman explained in a 1996 National Interest article, "Washington
therefore wanted the Kurdish and Shi'a revolts to succeed to the extent that
they would cause Saddam's downfall, but not to the extent that they would
lead to national dismemberment." The result of this attempted fine-tuning
was no success at all.

The caution displayed here was rank foolishness. Nothing is so dangerous as
leaving an aggrieved enemy hanging on and able to strike back - he should
either be befriended outright (the French approach) or destroyed. Hannibal
allegedly was made to take an oath of eternal enmity toward the Romans by
his father, who lost the First Punic war - thus laying the predicate for the
Second. Saddam needn't yet pass on such a pledge to his psychopath son Uday
or to the younger Qusay (one of whom will probably end up killing the other,
if the rules of Arab politics hold). Saddam has, in effect, taken the oath

The bare minimum of U.S. action should be an effort to kill Saddam - from
precision cruise missile strikes to bribes of his close associates - and to
topple his regime by proxy. The U.S. should seriously arm and support Iraqi
opposition groups. A bombing campaign on their behalf could, among other
things, create a "no drive" zone for Iraqi vehicles in the north and south.
No exaggerated claims should be made for the opposition - which contains, no
doubt, its share of thieves and opportunists - but at least it could be
trusted to plunge the country into chaos, and perhaps to dismantle it, since
it is so ripe for falling apart. In a description still apt today, Iraq's
King Faisal I said of his "country" in 1933, "There is still no Iraqi
people, but unimaginable masses of human beings, devoid of any patriotic
ideal . . . connected by no common tie, giving ear to evil, prone to
anarchy, and perpetually ready to rise against any government whatsoever."

In the above-sketched scenario, the United States would be willing to let
the fissiparous resentments of Iraq - the Kurdish north, the Sunni middle,
the Shiite south - play themselves out on the theory that a hopeless muddle
would be an improvement over a dangerous regime. Several strategic
objections are often raised to breaking up Iraq. Turkey, an important U.S.
ally with a restive Kurdish population of its own, wouldn't relish an
independent Kurdish entity to its south. And the Gulf states wouldn't
welcome the resulting uncertainty. But the grand Scowcroftian reason for
preserving Iraq - that it can balance Iran in the Persian Gulf - is a
nice-sounding theory utterly unhinged from reality. "It is senseless to
think in these terms," as Daniel Byman points out, "in circumstances where
Iraq is roughly as hostile to many of the potential targets of Iranian
aggression as is Iran itself."

The greatest risk would be to U.S. moral sensitivities. To help push Iraq
into chaos and then stand aside would require abiding uncertainty about the
ultimate result in Iraq and a willingness to ignore heart-wrenching
humanitarian disasters (refugees, ethnic massacres). It would be a mistake
for the U.S. to embark on this course and then - as dismaying pictures
started to come in via CNN - decide that it wanted to try to influence the
final result after all. This would create a situation in which the U.S.
would be merely responding to, rather than firmly shaping, events (as in
Vietnam). If we prefer not to court the uncertainty, but to follow instead a
path that would oust the Iraqi regime quickly and be much cleaner, the U.S.
should jettison half-measures and invade and occupy Iraq.

The United States could pull off an invasion with the help of only Britain,
Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. It would require a significant buildup, a long air
campaign against all of Saddam's military assets, and finally a land
invasion (which would be a strain, given the troop drawdown that brought the
endlessly costly "peace dividend" of the 1990s). The main attack, as NR
contributing editor John Hillen has argued, would be launched from Saudi
Arabia toward Baghdad, with air support smashing Iraqi forces whenever they
massed either to fight or to flee. Pre-invasion, the U.S. would work closely
with some sort of Free Iraqi government, making it clear that the war was
against the regime and not the Iraqi people. American forces would probably
enjoy a reception from the locals much warmer than that accorded the ROTC on
many college campuses.

An American occupation would not last years, on the model of a MacArthur
regency in Japan. Instead, the U.S. would quickly - say, after less than a
year - hand control of the country over to a U.N. protectorate, with some
Arab input to soothe feelings and a non American - some anodyne European,
such as a Swede - running the show. He would in effect act as Iraqi
dictator, but without the brace of pistols. After five years or so, as
Iraq's public institutions were firmed up, the baton could be passed to an
Iraqi government that one would hope would be thoroughly democratic - but
that would at a minimum be pro Western and capitalist. The entire effort
would represent a return to an enlightened paternalism toward the Third
World, premised on the idea that the Arabs have failed miserably at
self-government and need to start anew.

We occupy the Balkans to very little strategic purpose, except perhaps to
keep the Europeans from complaining too loudly. Why not undertake an
occupation where it really matters? The ideal would be to duplicate the best
of British colonialism in India, where the rule of law and other important
institutions (e.g., the civil service) helped make India the functioning
democracy it is today. But the model to avoid would be, as it happens, the
British in Iraq. After installing a Sunni king in 1921, they had to bomb the
Shiites in the south into submission. The U.S. would, undoubtedly, set for
itself an extremely delicate political and diplomatic task. The goal,
however, would not be perfection, but a pro-Western and reasonably
successful regime, somewhere between the Shah of Iran and the current
government of Turkey.

A functioning, mostly free, and relatively rich Iraq would have several
advantages over Saddam's country, and over chaos: In moral terms, it would
represent a great improvement in the lives of average Iraqis. It would bring
strategic stability to the region, freeing the Gulf states from the constant
fear of invasion. It would be an embarrassment - and perhaps a spur to
change - to the rest of the corrupt regimes in the region, providing a model
of free market success. It would guarantee the West's access to oil, and
perhaps help break up OPEC (the ill-gotten gains from which fund repressive
dictatorships and, indirectly, terrorists). And it would be a nice economic
benefit to the United States: If the Teamsters like drilling in ANWR, they
should love occupying Iraq.

Most important, either of these options - breakup or occupation - would
bring a rightful, if belated, end to the Gulf War by ending the Baathist
regime. According to the U.N.'s Rolf Ekeus, he was once told by the head of
Iraq's missile program, "Iraq needs its military equipment. The war is not
over. It was only a ceasefire." Exactly.

by Seymour M. Hersh
New Yorker, Issue of 2001-12-24 and 31

In November of 1993, Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National
Congress, an opposition group devoted to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein,
presented the Clinton Administration with a detailed, four-phase war plan
entitled "The End Game," along with an urgent plea for money to finance it.
"The time for the plan is now," Chalabi wrote. "Iraq is on the verge of
spontaneous combustion. It only needs a trigger to set off a chain of events
that will lead to the overthrow of Saddam." It was a message that Chalabi
would repeat for the next eight years.

Chalabi, who is fifty-six, was born into a wealthy Iraqi Shiite banking
family and earned a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Chicago.
He received money and authorization from the Clinton Administration to put
his plan into effect, and by October, 1994, a small C.I.A. outpost had been
set up in an area in northern Iraq controlled by the Kurds. Chalabi's
headquarters were nearby. His plan called for simultaneous insurrections in
Basra, the largest city in southern Iraq, which is dominated by disaffected
Shiites (Saddam and his followers are Sunnis), and in Mosul and Kirkuk,
Kurdish cities in the north. Massive Iraqi military defections would follow.
"We called it Chalabi's rolling coup," Bob Baer, the C.I.A. agent in charge,

At the time, Baer has written in "See No Evil," a memoir to be published
next month, "the C.I.A. didn't have a single source in Iraq. . . . Not only
were there no human sources in country, the C.I.A. didn't have any in the
neighboring countries-Iran, Jordan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia-who reported on
Iraq. Like the rest of the U.S. government, its intelligence gathering
apparatus was blind when it came to Iraq."

In March, 1995, Chalabi's insurrection was launched, and failed
dramatically. "There was nothing there," Baer told me. "No one moved except
one Kurdish leader acting on his own three days too late. Nothing happened."
As far as recruiting agents from inside the Iraqi military, "Chalabi didn't
deliver a single lieutenant, let alone a colonel or a general." Baer
emphasized that he wasn't dismissive of Chalabi himself, because, as he put
it, "Chalabi was trying." Even so, Baer said, "he was bluffing-he thought it
was better to bluff and try to win. But he was forced to play bridge with no
trump cards." Baer went on, "He always thought it was a psychological war,
and that if Clinton would stand up and say, 'It's time for the guy to go,'
people would do it."

Chalabi had written in his war plan that if there was "no movement" and if
Saddam was permitted to export oil, "then the psychology of the people will
turn. Saddam will appear to open [for] them hope for the future. At that
point he will have escaped." A month after the failed insurrection, the
United Nations Security Council allowed Iraq to resume oil sales under its
Oil for Food program, insuring a flow of money to the regime.

By late 1996, the Iraqi Army had all but driven Chalabi's operation out of
northern Iraq. A hundred and thirty Iraqi National Congress members were
executed. Chalabi managed to maintain his hold on the I.N.C., despite
repeated charges from the coalition's members of mismanagement, corruption,
and self-aggrandizement, and he moved his anti-Saddam base to London. His
plans were largely written off by the State Department and the C.I.A.
America's goal would be to pursue Saddam's removal by military or political
coup, and not by open rebellion. "I don't see an opposition group that has
the viability to overthrow Saddam," Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, the
commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), who is now serving
as the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, later told a Senate committee.
"Even if we had Saddam gone, we could end up with fifteen, twenty, or ninety
groups competing for power."

Chalabi bore his fall from official favor gracefully. Disdainful of the
Clinton Administration, which he felt had abandoned him in northern Iraq, he
took his campaign to the press and to Congress, and the I.N.C. soon emerged
as a rallying point for political conservatives and for many of the former
senior officials who had run the Gulf War for the first President Bush.

In February of 1998, forty prominent Americans-including Caspar Weinberger,
Frank Carlucci, and Donald Rumsfeld, all former Secretaries of
Defense-signed an open letter to President Clinton warning that Saddam
Hussein still posed an immediate threat, because of his stockpile of
biological and chemical weapons. They urged that the government once again
consider fostering a popular uprising against the Iraqi government. Echoing
Chalabi's 1993 war plan, the letter writers argued that Saddam's weakness
was his lack of popular support: "He rules by terror. The same brutality
which makes it unlikely that any coups or conspiracies can succeed makes him
hated by his own people. . . . Iraq today is ripe for a broad-based
insurrection." Their first two recommendations were that the I.N.C. be
recognized as the provisional government of Iraq and be reinstalled in
northern Iraq. Another recommendation urged the Clinton Administration to
release Iraqi assets frozen at the time of the Gulf War, which total more
than $1.5 billion, to help fund the provisional government.

The letter, like similar pleas from congressional Republicans, failed to
bring about a change in policy, although eight months later President
Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, which allocated ninety-seven million
dollars for training and military equipment for the Iraqi opposition.
Because of continued skepticism within the government, the I.N.C. has
received less than a million dollars of that money, but the State Department
has provided the group with roughly ten million dollars in routine operating

During the Presidential campaign last year, George W. Bush and Al Gore both
promised support for the opposition to Saddam-Bush said he would "take him
out"-if he continued to develop weapons of mass destruction. Most
arms-control experts believe that Iraq has in fact continued to develop such
weapons, but after the election Condoleezza Rice, the national-security
adviser, made it clear, according to a former government official, that the
new Administration would not make Iraq a priority. "Her feeling was that
Saddam was a small problem-chump change-that we needed to wall him into a
corner so we could get on with the big issues: Russia, China, NATO
expansion, a new relationship with India and, down the road, with Africa,"
the former official said.

Before September 11th, according to one of Chalabi's advisers, the I.N.C.'s
war plan revolved around training, encouraging defectors, and American
enforcement of the no-fly zone in southern Iraq. The idea was to recruit two
hundred instructors and put them to work training a force of five thousand
or more dissident Iraqis, reinforced by soldiers of fortune, some of whom,
inevitably, would be retired Americans who had served in Special Forces
units. The United States would also be asked to institute a no-drive zone,
backed up by air strikes, to protect the insurgents from attack by Iraqi

A Chalabi adviser explained, "You insert this force into southern Iraq"-the
site of most of Iraq's oil fields-"perhaps at an abandoned airbase west of
Basra, and you sit there and let Saddam come to you. And if he doesn't come
you go home and say we failed. This is not the Bay of Pigs." On the other
hand, the adviser said, "if the insurgent force took Basra-that's the end.
You don't have to go to Baghdad. You tie up his oil and he'll collapse."

Then came September 11th, and the quick victories in Afghanistan, where the
combination of internal rebellion, intense bombing, and Special Forces
deployment turned the Taliban out of power within weeks. Ahmad Chalabi has
now given the Bush Administration an updated war plan, which calls not only
for bombing but for the deployment of thousands of American Special Forces

There is a second significant addition to the plan: the participation of
Iran, which fought a protracted war with Iraq during the nineteen-eighties.
The government of President Mohammad Khatami, America's newfound partner in
the war against the Taliban, has agreed to permit I.N.C. forces and their
military equipment to cross the Iranian border into southern Iraq. An I.N.C.
official told me that the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets
Control gave the organization special approval to open a liaison office in
Tehran. (American companies are forbidden under federal sanctions law to do
business with Iran.) The office opened in April. "We did it with U.S.
government money, and that's what convinced them in Tehran," the I.N.C.
official said. "They took it as a sign from the United States of a common
interest-getting rid of Saddam. The way to get to him is through Iran."

Once inside Iraq, according to Chalabi's scenario, the I.N.C. would
establish a firebase and announce the creation of a provisional Iraqi
government, which the Bush Administration would quickly recognize. Nearly
two-thirds of the Iraqi population are Shiites, and they are seen as
potential allies in a political uprising. The United States would then begin
an intense bombing campaign, as it did in Afghanistan, and airlift thousands
of Special Forces troops into southern Iraq. At the same time, I.N.C.
supporters in the north, in the areas under Kurdish control, would begin
signalling that they were about to attack. If all went as planned, dissent
would quickly break out inside the Iraqi military, and Saddam Hussein would
be confronted with a dilemma: whether to send his élite forces south to
engage the Americans or, for his own protection, keep all his forces nearby
to guard against an invasion from the north.

Chalabi's new plan also calls for the United States to provide funding for
an I.N.C. mobile assault force of six battalions of armed Toyota
four-by-fours, equipped with machine guns, recoilless cannons, and antitank
missiles. "If you did that, there would be massive defections," the I.N.C.
official told me. The six battalions, he said, could stop an Iraqi
counterattack by two armored divisions. Two preliminary target areas have
been isolated, both near airbases that, once secured, could be used to fly
in American Special Forces troops. The attack plan was worked out with the
help of a retired four-star Army general, Wayne Downing, and a former C.I.A.
officer, Duane (Dewey) Clarridge, who have served as unpaid consultants to
the I.N.C. (Downing was appointed by President Bush in October to be the
deputy national-security adviser for combatting terrorism.)

Downing, who ran a Special Forces command during the Gulf War, was convinced
that the I.N.C., with airpower and a small contingent of well-trained
Special Forces, could do the job inside Iraq. He was privy to one of the
most astonishing engagements of the Gulf War: In mid-February of 1991, a
Delta Force troop of sixteen men on night patrol south of Al-Qaim, near the
Syrian border in western Iraq, was overrun by a large enemy force, and the
Iraqis wounded two Americans. The Delta troops, operating from heavily armed
vehicles, counterattacked with grenade launchers and machine guns (a
maneuver known as Final Protective Fire) and killed or wounded an estimated
hundred and eighty Iraqis, with no further injury to themselves. One
American veteran of the Gulf War told me, "In the west" where Delta
operated-"there was little opposition, and we had freedom of movement"; that
is, the troops were operating on their own. "Downing loved it."

America's success in routing the Taliban has improved Chalabi's standing
with some elements of Washington's defense community. "They believe they
have found the perfect model, and it works," a defense analyst said of the
updated war plan. "The model is bombing, a modest insertion of Special
Forces, plus an uprising." Similarly, Tim McCarthy, a former United Nations
weapons inspector, acknowledged that "the one thing the I.N.C. has going for
it is that, once someone puts their stake down, the Iraqis will have to go
after them. Saddam will have to send his Hammurabi after them"-the Iraqi
Army's élite armored-tank division. Once Saddam made his move, McCarthy
said, his forces would be exposed to American air strikes, "and then they
are toast."

Many of the people who signed the 1998 open letter to Clinton urging
American support for Iraqi insurgents are now in positions of authority in
the Bush Administration, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his
deputy, Paul Wolfowitz; and Douglas Feith, an Under-Secretary of Defense.
Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State, was also a signatory. One
of the drafters of the letter was Richard Perle, the longtime conservative
foreign-policy adviser in Washington, who has turned the obscure Defense
Policy Board, which he chairs, into a powerful platform for advancing
policies dear to the Republican right. In the past few weeks, Perle and
another I.N.C. supporter, James Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A.,
have inspired a surge of articles and columns calling for the extension of
the Afghan war into Iraq.

The Pentagon officials, buttressed by Perle and Woolsey, are at odds with
the State Department-specifically, with their fellow letter-signer Richard
Armitage, who has now become, in private, an opponent of the revised Chalabi
plan. "I've got to believe that Wolfowitz and Feith are angry" at Armitage,
one friend of all three men told me. "They feel he's betrayed a fundamental
conviction they shared."

"September 11th changed the whole equation," said the former New York
congressman Stephen Solarz, who helped Perle draft the 1998 letter. "Before
then, an argument could be made that deterrence worked." In recent speeches
and articles, Perle has dwelled on the potential threat from Iraq. Last
month, at a meeting in Philadelphia of the Foreign Policy Research
Institute, a conservative think tank, Perle said, "The question in my mind
is: Do we wait for Saddam and hope for the best? Do we wait and hope he
doesn't do what we know he is capable of, which is distributing weapons of
mass destruction to anonymous terrorists, or do we take preëmptive action? .
. . What is essential here is not to look at the opposition to Saddam as it
is today, without any external support, without any realistic hope of
removing that awful regime, but to look at what could be created."

One of Armitage's supporters in the internal debate, a former high-level
intelligence official, wondered scornfully if the Perle circle's enthusiasm
for Chalabi's plan grew out of their unease about the first Bush
Administration's decision in early 1991, when they were in power, not to
seek Saddam's demise at the end of the Gulf War. "It's the revenge of the
nerds," he said. Also, he said, "They won in Afghanistan when everybody said
it wouldn't work, and it's got them in a euphoric mood of cockiness. They
went against the established experts on the Middle East who said it would
lead to fundamental insurrections in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Not so, and
anyone who now preaches any approach of solving problems with diplomacy is
scoffed at. They're on a roll."

Armitage views the I.N.C.'s eagerness to confront Saddam, the former
official told me, as ill considered. "We have no idea what could go wrong in
Iraq if the crazies took over that country," the former official said,
referring to religious fundamentalists. "Better the devil we know than the
one we don't." He described Armitage as confident that he could block the
plan, and frustrated by the amount of time he has been forced to spend on
the issue. "Dick says no way. He's going to win it." Otherwise, he added,
"he knows it's going to be a political disaster."

A senior Administration official depicted Chalabi as "totally charming," but
said that the Administration had no intention of allowing "a bunch of
half-assed people to send foreigners into combat." Of Chalabi and his
supporters in and out of government, the senior official said, "Who among
them has ever smelled cordite? These are pissants who can't get the
President's ear and have to blame someone else. We're not going to let them
lead others down the garden path." The I.N.C., he added, is not the only
Iraqi opposition group being funded by the Bush Administration, and not the
only group capable of "working through Iran."

Secretary of State Colin Powell, known to be skeptical of the I.N.C., has
"backed away from the infighting," a senior general explained, and left it
to Armitage, his trusted colleague, "to stall them off four or five months.
There's a lot of ways to squeeze Saddam without using military force." More
focussed sanctions would be one logical step, but the Bush Administration
last month agreed to delay for six months its insistence on "smart
sanctions," which would enable the United Nations to crack down on "dual
use" goods, which could be employed for military or civilian purposes, while
allowing medicine, food, and other essentials to flow. The Iraqi regime now
exports an estimated two million barrels of oil daily under the Oil for Food
program. Major purchasers include ExxonMobil, Chevron, and other American
companies, who routinely buy the oil through third parties. As many as eight
hundred thousand barrels of that oil a day end up in the U.S. market.

In recent weeks, Chalabi's revised war plan, augmented and modified by a
Pentagon planning group authorized by Paul Wolfowitz, has made its way to
the Joint Chiefs of Staff for evaluation. It has left some military men
cold, and prompted a debate about the lessons learned from Afghanistan and
how they can be applied to Saddam. "There's no question we can take him
down," a former government official told me. "But what do you need to do it?
The J.C.S. is feeling the pressure. These guys are being squeezed so hard."

Some of the concerns were articulated by Robert Pape, a University of
Chicago political scientist who has written widely on airpower. "The lesson
from Afghanistan is less than meets the eye," Pape told me. "Airpower is
becoming more effective, but the real lesson is that you need significant
ground forces to make the strategy effective. The Taliban, which controlled
fifty thousand troops, were thinly dispersed and never in total control of
the country. We don't have an armed opposition already in Iraq like the
Northern Alliance." A former senior State Department official depicted the
I.N.C. proposal as "highly risky, because two things they can't control have
to happen. There's got to be an uprising against Saddam, and our allies have
to join us in country." A senior intelligence official similarly debunked
the notion that what worked in Afghanistan would necessarily work in Iraq as
equivalent to "taking the show from upstate New York to Broadway."

The military's response has been cautious and bureaucratic. A former
official told me that the Joint Chiefs ordered their staff to "come up with
a counterproposal," which is now in the planning stages. An Air Force
consultant said that the I.N.C. is not included in the Pentagon's planning,
adding, "Everything is going to happen inside Iraq, and Chalabi is going to
be on the outside." According to a senior Bush Administration official, two
senior American diplomats were recently sent to northern Iraq to talk to
Kurdish opposition leaders and "check out who's got go and who's got no go."

Generals and admirals have been among the most outspoken critics of
Chalabi's proposals. In his years of planning at CENTCOM, General Zinni
concluded, according to a Clinton Administration official, that a prudent
and successful invasion of Iraq would involve the commitment of two corps-at
least six combat divisions, or approximately a hundred and fifty thousand
soldiers-as well as the ability to fly bombing missions from nearby
airfields. In an essay published last year in the United States Naval
Institute Proceedings, Zinni, who was on the eve of retirement, wrote about
what it would take to "drive a stake" through the heart of someone like

You must have the political will-and that means the will of the
administration, the Congress, and the American people. All must be united in
a desire for action. Instead, however, we try to get results on the cheap.
There are congressmen today who want to fund the Iraqi Liberation Act, and
let some silk-suited, Rolex-wearing guys in London gin up an expedition.
We'll equip a thousand fighters and arm them with ninety-seven million
dollars' worth of AK-47s and insert them into Iraq. And what will we have? A
Bay of Goats, most likely.

One of the officials currently involved in the Pentagon's planning said that
he, too, had doubts about the efficacy of an I.N.C. armed insurrection, even
one backed up by American warplanes and Special Forces. "If you go to war
and don't address the root political problem, why bother?" he asked. "All
we're going to get is another tyrant in five years. If this is the war to
end all jihads, it's got to have a broad-based political agenda behind it."

One of Zinni's close aides told me, "Our question was 'What about the day
after?' How do you deal with the long-term security aspects of Iraq? For
example, do you take the Republican Guard"-the military unit most loyal to
Saddam-"and disarm it? Or is it preferable to turn it from having a
capability to protect Saddam to a capability to protect Iraq? You've got
Kurds in the north, Arab Shia in the south, and the Baath Party in the
middle, with great internal tribal divisions. There's potential for civil
war. Layer on external opposition and you've got a potential for great
instability. I'm a military planner and plan for the worst case. As bad as
this guy is, a stable Iraq is better than instability."

When I asked James Woolsey, the former C.I.A. director, about these
concerns, he said, "Iraq has its tribal factions and regional loyalties, but
it also has a very sophisticated and intellectual infrastructure of highly
educated people. There's no reason they couldn't establish a federalized-or
loosely federalized-democracy."

"The issue is not how nice it would be to get rid of Saddam," a former
senior Defense Department official told me. "Everybody in the Middle East
would be delighted to see him go. The problem is feasibility. We looked at
all these plans and always came to the conclusion that the external
opposition did not have the armed ability to deal with Saddam's police

President Bush has not yet decided what to do about Iraq, according to the
senior Administration official. Until he has, he said, the State Department
will continue to give financial support to opposition groups, including the
I.N.C. In a Washington Post interview earlier this fall, Condoleezza Rice
used a football metaphor to indicate that all options remain open. "We will
be calling audibles every time we come to the line," she told the columnist
Jim Hoagland.

There is evidence that Saddam Hussein is rattled by the war talk in
Washington. "The Iraqis are scared to death," one intelligence source said.
The intelligence community, according to a former official, has also
received hints-however hard to credit-that the Iraqis might be willing to
join in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Conciliatory messages were relayed
through diplomatic channels in Canada, and eventually reached the White

Inside the Administration, there is a general consensus on one issue,
officials told me: there will be no further effort to revive the U.N.
inspection regime in Iraq. The inspectors were withdrawn in late 1998, after
seven years of contentious and sometimes very successful inspections, and
Iraq has refused since then to accept a new wave of inspectors. "I've been
told that senior U.S. officials have little faith in the viability of the
new inspection regime," one disarmament expert told me.

There is every indication that the next few months, as the President
struggles to reach a decision, will produce more, perhaps much more, of the
same: continued American patrolling of the no-fly zones in the south and
north of Iraq and occasional bombing of military targets. A retired flag
officer described the approach as deterrence: "We have to make sure that
Saddam knows that if he sticks his head up he'll get whacked."

CNN, 18th December

There has been speculation in Washington that the United States, after
finishing military operations in Afghanistan, may turn its attention to
longtime nemesis Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein.

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh writes in the latest issue of The New
Yorker that there's intense debate within the White House about whether to
pursue military action against Iraq. An Iraqi opposition leader reportedly
submitted a plan of attack to the Bush administration, modeled on the U.S.
military strategy deployed in Afghanistan, Hersh writes.

CNN's Paula Zahn discussed the New Yorker report with Hersh on Monday.

PAULA ZAHN: So what is it that Iraqi opposition leader, Ahmad Chalabi, has
in mind here?

SEYMOUR HERSH: He's got something new, which is interesting. One of the new
facts is that he wants to come in from Iran. Iran has given him permission
-- this is an Iraqi dissident -- to come, stage his forces in Iran, go
across the border into southern Iraq, and set up camp there. And that's a
very big step. That hasn't happened before.

This man has been trying with his opposition group -- I think since '93 or
so -- with the help of the CIA and the Clinton administration, their money,
to get it going. And now he has got an access route, which is from Iran, and
he's also got the model.

...So what he wants to do is go across with his people from Iran into Iraq,
set up a base, have the United States declare him the provisional government
of Iraq -- recognize him. We send some special forces in there, we begin
bombing, we tell Saddam, 'Come on south' -- you know, Saddam is up north in
Baghdad -- 'send your tanks south to come get us in southern Iraq,' where he
(Chalabi) would be. And of course, if Saddam did that, as I quote somebody
as saying, 'Our planes would take care of his tanks. They'd be toast.'

But the problem still is -- and this is what the story is about, really --
what's going to happen if that works? It probably can work. It looks like we
can certainly give Saddam a lot of trouble by doing so. But what happens to
that country? Who is going to take it over? And that's the issue.

ZAHN: Well, let's come back to the plan and the criticism of it. Aren't
there a lot of people within the administration who simply don't think Ahmad
Chalabi can pull this off?

HERSH: Oh, absolutely. But I have to tell you, they also believe that you
could do something about Saddam with special forces. Our special forces
worked very well, particularly the Delta Force .. when we attacked Saddam in
the Gulf War.

And so, we know we can do it. .. We can just do it ourselves if we found
somebody to lead, but we don't have people inside. We don't have the
intelligence we need. We really have very little out of Iraq. I quote one
CIA person as saying, 'Even back then in the early '90s we had nothing.' I
don't think we have much now.

And secondly, the fear is if you do overthrow Saddam, you get three
countries. You know, you get a Shiite -- an Arab Shiite -- country in the
south, where most of the people in the south are against the regime. They
set up a separate government around Basra. You have a middle regime, where
the tribes that Saddam gets support from fight each other. And in the north,
of course, the Kurds take over, and nobody wants that, too. That's chaos.

And also, none of our allies wants us to go, and they want things left the
way they are.

ZAHN: Come back to the other piece of the puzzle here -- the role Iran would
play. Effectively, would that be the end of dual containment, if we're
suddenly trusting the Iranians to help this Iraqi opposition leader pull
this off?

HERSH: They're our new buddies. They helped in Afghanistan, and certainly,
they are more moderate. The only problem with the moderate side of Iran is,
of course, there's also another side, which is the mullahs -- the
fundamentalists -- who still run Iran, still support terrorism --
particularly against Israel. And as I wrote a few weeks ago, they're making
a nuclear bomb, and we don't know what quite to do about that. They've been
digging holes, putting their bombs lower and deeper.

So that's another issue. Do we really want Iran to be involved in an
overthrow of Iraq? And again, I have to stress this: Chalabi has a lot of
support -- political support -- and this administration is interested in
what the conservatives think. .. Very powerful members want Chalabi to be
put in play. So it's a political issue for this government, too.

ZAHN: Realistically: Politically, how soon could this happen if you build
this political consensus? What are we talking about here?

HERSH: Oh, I think first of all, it's very clear that (Secretary of State)
Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, are very much against this
and fighting it very hard. And I think what's going to happen is more of the
same. We're going to continue. As you know, we fly -- we attack in the
no-fly zone in north and south Iraq. We set up zones, which they're not
allowed to do any military activity in, and we bomb if we see something.

I think we'll just do more of the same for the next four or five or six
months, as the administration struggles with what to do, if anything, about
Iraq. And don't forget, the Saudis, the Syrians and all of Europe have told
us: Stay out of it. So it's a very interesting issue, because it's a
question of politics versus reality

Reuters, 16th December


On "Fox News Sunday," Secretary of State Colin Powell restated U.S. support
for Saddam's overthrow.

But how to achieve that goal is something the administration is "constantly
reviewing," he said.


Powell said the administration is "looking at" whether the anti-Saddam Iraqi
National Congress (INC) and Shi'ite Muslim groups in southern Iraq could
work with U.S. forces toward ousting Saddam as the Northern Alliance and
southern Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan ousted the Taliban and al Qaeda.

But Powell, who reportedly is sceptical of the INC, stressed Iraq "it's
quite a different situation (and) .. one has to be careful before you take a
cookie cutter from other theatre and apply it to another theatre."

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, on CNN's "Late Edition," also
cautioned "against assuming one size fits all, that we're just going to take
the strategy that we used in Afghanistan and apply it to .. place after
place after place."

The Afghan war raised the profile of military action but U.S. officials said
other options are more likely, including closing financial flows to
extremists and arresting them.

Pro-Israel advocates want Bush to pressure Syria to shut down Iran-backed
groups by halting World Bank and International Monetary Fund support for
Syria's strapped economy.

"To me, the most immediate next step in the war on terrorism for the United
States is to begin to pressure Syria and Iran to cut off support for Hamas
and Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah" because of their role in the
Israel-Palestinian conflict, Senator Joseph Lieberman told "Fox News

Still, "the war against terrorism cannot end before Saddam Hussein is out of
power in Iraq, because he is the world's most powerful terrorist," the
Connecticut Democrat said.


The New Yorker magazine, in its current edition, reports the INC gave the
administration plans for waging war against Saddam that would include U.S.
bombing and special forces.

But Powell has moved to "stall (the INC) off for four or five months.
There's a lot of ways to squeeze Saddam without using military forces," a
senior general told the magazine.


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