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Cakewalk in Iraq

Another teeth-grinding commentary from America's most influential newspaper, the Washington Post ...

Here, Iraq is seen simultaneously as a "cakewalk" to conquer and "the number one threat against 
American security and civilization", our ally Turkey has no qualms (none worth mentioning) over a 
re-armed Kurdistan, and our ally Saudi Arabia has no acknowledged concerns over a Shiite rebellilon 
on its borders.

This commentary from a parallel universe was written by Ken Adelman, former assistant to SecDef 

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA
(note new email:


Cakewalk In Iraq 
By Ken Adelman

Wednesday, February 13, 2002; Page A27 

Even before President Bush had placed Iraq on his "axis of evil," dire warnings were being sounded 
about the danger of acting against Saddam Hussein's regime.

Two knowledgeable Brookings Institution analysts, Philip H. Gordon and Michael E. O'Hanlon, 
concluded that the United States would "almost surely" need "at least 100,000 to 200,000" ground 
forces [op-ed, Dec. 26, 2001]. Worse: "Historical precedents from Panama to Somalia to the 
Arab-Israeli wars suggest that . . . the United States could lose thousands of troops in the 

I agree that taking down Hussein would differ from taking down the Taliban. And no one favors "a 
casual march to war." This is serious business, to be treated seriously.

In fact, we took it seriously the last time such fear-mongering was heard from military analysts -- 
when we considered war against Iraq 11 years ago. Edward N. Luttwak cautioned on the eve of Desert 
Storm: "All those precision weapons and gadgets and gizmos and stealth fighters . . . are not going 
to make it possible to re-conquer Kuwait without many thousands of casualties." As it happened, our 
gizmos worked wonders. Luttwak's estimate of casualties was off by "many thousands," just as the 
current estimates are likely to be.

I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give 
simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) 
we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps.

Gordon and O'Hanlon mention today's "400,000 active-duty troops in the Iraqi military" and 
especially the "100,000 in Saddam's more reliable Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard," 
which "would probably fight hard against the United States -- just as they did a decade ago during 
Desert Storm." Somehow I missed that. I do remember a gaggle of Iraqi troops attempting to 
surrender to an Italian film crew. The bulk of the vaunted Republican Guard either hunkered down or 
was held back from battle.

Today Iraqi forces are much weaker. Saddam's army is one-third its size then, in both manpower and 
number of divisions. It still relies on obsolete Soviet tanks, which military analyst Eliot Cohen 
calls "death traps." The Iraqi air force, never much, is half its former size.

Iraqi forces have received scant spare parts and no weapons upgrades. They have undertaken little 
operational training since Desert Storm.

Meanwhile, American power is much fiercer. The advent of precision bombing and battlefield 
intelligence has dramatically spiked U.S. military prowess. The gizmos of Desert Storm were 90-plus 
percent dumb bombs. Against the Taliban, more than 80 percent were smart bombs. Unmanned Predators 
equipped with Hellfire missiles and Global Hawk intelligence gathering did not exist during the 
first Iraqi campaign.

In 1991 we engaged a grand international coalition because we lacked a domestic coalition. 
Virtually the entire Democratic leadership stood against that President Bush. The public, too, was 
divided. This President Bush does not need to amass rinky-dink nations as "coalition partners" to 
convince the Washington establishment that we're right. Americans of all parties now know we must 
wage a total war on terrorism.

Hussein constitutes the number one threat against American security and civilization. Unlike Osama 
bin Laden, he has billions of dollars in government funds, scores of government research labs 
working feverishly on weapons of mass destruction -- and just as deep a hatred of America and 
civilized free societies.

Once President Bush clearly announces that our objective is to rid Iraq of Hussein, and our 
unshakable determination to do whatever it takes to win, defections from the Iraqi army may come 
even faster than a decade ago.

Gordon and O'Hanlon say we must not "assume that Hussein will quickly fall." I think that's just 
what is likely to happen. How would it be accomplished? By knocking out all his headquarters, 
communications, air defenses and fixed military facilities through precision bombing. By 
establishing military "no-drive zones" wherever Iraqi forces try to move. By arming the Kurds in 
the north, Shiites in the south and his many opponents everywhere. By using U.S. special forces and 
some U.S. ground forces with protective gear against chemical and biological weapons. By stationing 
theater missile defenses, to guard against any Iraqi Scuds still in existence. And by announcing 
loudly that any Iraqi, of any rank, who handles Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, in any form, 
will be severely punished after the war.

Measured by any cost-benefit analysis, such an operation would constitute the greatest victory in 
America's war on terrorism.

The writer was assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 1975 to 1977, and arms control 
director under President Ronald Reagan.

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