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[casi] from today's papers: 29-04-02



A. Iraq rearming for war, say defectors, Guardian, 29 April
B. Happy birthday Mr President. But your party masks a nation living in
fear, Guardian, 29 April
C. US offensive on Iraq 'postponed until next year', Independent, 29 April
D. Bush has blueprint to oust Saddam, Telegraph, 29 April
E. Dark clouds hang over Iraq during a time of celebration, FT, 29 April
F. U.S. Envisions Blueprint on Iraq Including Big Invasion Next Year, New
York Times, 29 April

Guardian: letters@guardian.co.uk
Independent: letters@independent.co.uk
Telegraph: dtletters@telegraph.co.uk
Financial Times: letters.editor@ft.com


[Letter writers: remember to include your address and telephone number!]

Most of today's broadsheets (in A, C, D and E) report the latest revelations
regarding War Plan Iraq that appeared in yesterday's New York Times
(reproduced here under F), though in A. this is buried in para. 12.

I'm reproducing Gaskill's piece (B), largely for the benefit of those
subscribed to the CASI discussion list, since the following passage is
reminiscent of comments made by Ragi Omah in a recent piece for the BBC that
was discussed on the list:

'The prospect of war comes as the country is beginning to recover from the
economic disaster caused in the main by sanctions. In the past two years,
the standard of living in Baghdad has greatly improved. The main street,
Arasat, sells every available luxury, though in the suburbs life can still
be harsh. People are generally better dressed. Brand new and expensive cars
are fast replacing the beat-up vehicles that Iraqis so skilfully maintained
throughout the sanctions.

What is galling for the Iraqis is that just as they see a semblance of
normality returning, they face the prospect of a return to economic ruin.'

I note here that not much evidence is provided to support the conclusion
that Iraq 'is beginning to recover from the economic disaster caused in the
main by sanctions' (after all, I should imagine that 'luxury' goods are
beyond the means of most folk). Furthermore, whatever the situation in
Baghdad I doubt that this is representative of the country as a whole.

Best wishes,

Gabriel
voices uk

***********************************************************
A. Iraq rearming for war, say defectors

Baghdad buying up east European weapons

Julian Borger
Monday April 29, 2002
The Guardian

Weapons from eastern Europe are being smuggled through Syria into Iraq, as
Saddam Hussein builds up his defences in anticipation of a US-led assault,
according to Iraqi officers who have recently fled to Europe.
The defectors, all members of the dissident Iraqi Officers' Movement (IOM),
described an atmosphere of high tension and paranoia bordering on panic
within the Baghdad regime.

While putting its forces on high alert and establishing new bunkers, it has
stepped up executions of officers and civil ians suspected of disloyalty.

But the crackdown has only contributed to a downward spiral in military
morale, even in the elite units that the defectors are drawn from. Poor and
irregular pay, fear of bombing and concern over potential purges have
rapidly pushed up the rate of desertions, despite the danger of reprisals,
to the extent that well over a quarter of the 400,000-strong army are now
missing from their posts.

The three defectors, who spoke to the Guardian at the weekend, left Iraq
during the past six months. They served in different capacities under Qusay
Hussein, the president's son who is responsible for the inner ring of the
dictatorship's defences. They were accompanied by a senior IOM official,
General Nawaf al-Malki, who defected in 1989.

The interviews took place in a European capital, which the officers asked
not to be named, for fear of being tracked down. They provided their real
names, but asked for pseudonyms to be printed in an effort to protect their
families and friends.

According to their accounts, together with research done by the IOM - which
works undercover inside the regime to recruit defectors and gather
information from members still working for President Saddam - the first of
three arms consignments bound for Iraq arrived in the Syrian port of Latakia
on February 23.

"We know that two more shipments are on the way, but we don't know if they
have already arrived," General al-Malki said.

The first consignment included anti-aircraft missiles, rockets and guidance
systems for Iraq's long-range variants of the old Soviet Scud missile, all
illegal under the UN embargo. The shipment, which cost Baghdad $800,000
(550,000), originated from the Czech Republic under export licences for
Syria and Yemen. Its unloading at Latakia was overseen by an Iraqi
intelligence officer, Lt Col Khaled al-Adhani, who also oversaw its
diversion from its official destination by road to Iraq. One of the recent
defectors, Colonel Khaled Ayad al-Dilemi, from the 12,000-strong elite
Special Republican Guard, said that one of his fellow officers had also been
dispatched to Latakia to provide protection for the shipment.

The smuggling operation is just one element in Iraq's build-up, said the
defectors, who were all adamant that President Saddam had stepped up his
development of nuclear, chemical and biological arms since the departure of
UN weapons inspectors in 1998. However, they conceded that their evidence
for any such build-up was anecdotal and indirect.

According to a document provided by the defectors, the regime is attempting
to develop a radar system capable of detecting US stealth aircraft. The
focus of the work is being carried out at the Salahaddin Enterprise, which
makes electronics near the town of al-Daur, about 130km north-west of the
capital.

According to the document, the military-run enterprise claimed to have
achieved a breakthrough on March 25, and had been ordered by President
Saddam in person to produce 150 of the prototype radars.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the US administration was
fine-tun ing plans for an air and ground assault against Iraq involving up
to 250,000 troops, although it said the campaign, originally contemplated
for this autumn, was likely to postponed until early next year.

According to the defectors, the Iraqi regime is already braced for an attack
"at any time". In March, the nation's defences were arranged into five
zones, centring on Baghdad, and the military commanders were reshuffled.

The growth in military preparations has been accompanied by a surge in
brutality, marked by mass executions.

Before fleeing less than a month ago, the third defector, Mohamed Daham
al-Tikriti, was a lieutenant colonel in al-Emen al-Am (general security),
Iraq's secret police. Part of his unit's function was to help conceal the
mass graves of the regime's victims.

Lt Col al-Tikriti, a member of the president's clan, said: "In February,
between 150 and 200 civilians were killed because Saddam felt they were
dangerous, but as far as I could see it was largely random. They were shot
and buried in a mass grave in the desert near Saddam's palace in
al-Radhwaniyah", a few kilometres west of Baghdad.

He estimated that the rate of executions had nearly doubled since last year,
and that 1,500 civilians had been killed in the first two months of the
year. Lt Col al-Samarrai reported a similar increase in the executions of
suspect officers. He and Col al-Dilemi both escaped because they were tipped
off by friends in general security.

The campaign of terror has served only to accelerate the rate of desertions.
Lt Col al-Tikriti said that about 40% of the general security rank and file
were missing from their posts at the time he fled.

He said senior officials were "trying to get money to turn it into dollars
and euros, to get forged papers under other names so that they can run away
when the moment arrives. They will all leave. Since December, they have been
moving around staying in different places, on special farms, even in their
cars, in fear of an attack."

Military desertions have also accelerated as fears grow of a devastating US
air campaign. "I would say 15% of the army had left already. Then 10% more
in the three months before I left and then probably many more in the past
few weeks," Lt Col al-Samarrai said.

Col al-Dilemi said the collapse in morale also affected the once loyal
special republican guard, because the intense scrutiny they are under make
sudden death a constantly increasing likelihood.

"If anybody has a question mark over them, they will be taken away and the
next day they shoot him," he said.

"Officers came to me and said, we'll pay you as much as you need. Just say
I'm a bad officer, so they'll discharge me. He added: "Some try to break
their own arms to get themselves discharged."

***************************************************************
B. Happy birthday Mr President. But your party masks a nation living in fear

Ewen MacAskill in Tikrit
Monday April 29, 2002
The Guardian

A monumental golden horse leaping from a gilded tank stood at the centre of
a lavishly executed public display of adoration laid on to mark Saddam
Hussein's birthday in his home town of Tikrit last night. He was 65, though
there is no retirement age for Iraqi dictators.
Provincial officials had struggled to come up with something suitably
splendid to mark the celebrations. Not an easy challenge, bearing in mind
that the Iraqi leader's personality cult is as strong as ever and he is
honoured with a seemingly infinite number of statues and portraits, most of
them, it seems, located in Tikrit.

Which is why they settled on the monument of President Saddam (containing 76
kilograms of silver) astride a golden steed - itself on top of a tank headed
toward the al-Aqsa mosque, the Muslim holy shrine in Jerusalem - as the
necessary ostentatious mark of respect.

More than 100,000 Iraqis paraded through the streets of his birthplace while
army officers and foreign dignitaries crowded into a stadium to hear
speeches, listen to martial music and watch traditional dancing. Officials
said that about one million people had joined the parades nationwide - many
of them shouting anti-American slogans and some burning dollar bills.
Attendance at the rallies was practically mandatory.

Hundreds of children danced in the Tikrit stadium yesterday, dressed in
traditional Iraqi costumes, mainly flowing silks, but a score were dressed
in black masks with the green headscarves of Hamas, the Palestinian suicide
bombers. It was not a scene designed to dissuade the US from attack.

In public, residents expressed love for their president and made a great
show of bravado, claiming to be unafraid of war with the US and Britain. In
private, the mood was very different - a combination of worry and weary
resignation.

As the celebrations reached their culmination last night, flashes and
explosions filled the sky over Baghdad. The fear of the Iraqis is that in
six months or a year's time the same night sky could be filled with flashes
and explosions triggered by American and British warplanes.

President George Bush and Tony Blair have discussed the prospect of a war to
depose the Iraqi dictator, and the Iraqi army is preparing its defences.

Many Iraqis watching the celebrations expressed the hope that war would not
come, but they tended to be morbidly resigned to the fact that it would. A
doctor, reflecting the powerlessness of the population, said: "We cannot
change Bush and we cannot change Saddam."

Baghdad's population faced allied bombing during the 1991 Gulf conflict, and
again by the US and Britain in operation Desert Fox in 1998. In the south of
the country, and to a lesser extent in the north, bombing has continued
throughout the decade, sometimes daily.

Against that background, and after more than 10 years of sanctions, there is
little love for Washington in views expressed either in private or public.
On arrival at Baghdad airport, every third step down the gangway has been
spray-painted in red with "down with the US".

Outside what used to be the American embassy in Baghdad, about 150
journalists, all working for government-controlled organisations,
demonstrated on Saturday evening. Holding candles to mark President Saddam's
birthday and banners denouncing Washington, they chanted: "Bush, Bush, we
are not afraid of America." That confidence is not shared in private on the
streets. The worry is that the bombing may be fiercer this time and that the
Iraqi dictator will not give up Baghdad easily, and it will be the civilians
who will suffer most.

Official guests at the birthday celebrations came from from a diverse range
of countries and organisations, among them Othman Dawlat Mirzo, from
Jordan's Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. A regular visitor to
Iraq, he shared the assessment of the public mood. "They are worried. The
war will not be easy for children, for women, for the old," he said. Such an
attack would carry great risk. "The Americans, when they decide to do
something, they just do it. They do not think of the consequences."

In preparation for a war, President Saddam has ordered the army to begin
work on the defence of Baghdad, with stockpiles of fuel and food already
being gathered. Even more important, he has told his foreign ministry to
work harder to improve relations with the Arab world and elsewhere and to
try to delay an attack.

The prospect of war comes as the country is beginning to recover from the
economic disaster caused in the main by sanctions. In the past two years,
the standard of living in Baghdad has greatly improved. The main street,
Arasat, sells every available luxury, though in the suburbs life can still
be harsh. People are generally better dressed. Brand new and expensive cars
are fast replacing the beat-up vehicles that Iraqis so skilfully maintained
throughout the sanctions.

What is galling for the Iraqis is that just as they see a semblance of
normality returning, they face the prospect of a return to economic ruin.

Which explains why, despite the outpourings of birthday congratulations that
have been running non-stop on Iraqi television for days, President Saddam is
increasingly unpopular. It would be a brave person to criticise him in
public, but there are hints of the public's real feelings in raised eyebrows
and muttered remarks, a sarcastic comment about his new play, a love story,
which opened in a Baghdad theatre last night, or criticism of the behaviour
of his son Uday. Or a moan about the haves and have-nots.

There is admiration for his standing up to the US, but his 22-year-old rule
has led the country into two costly wars and,for a time, international
isolation. Under him, one of the most advanced Arab states, with the best
welfare system in the Middle East, has gone backwards.

But Nada, one of the Iraqi women journalists taking part in the
demonstration against George Bush, dismissed this, and lavish comfort of the
president and his immediate clique. "All the Iraqi presidents had palaces,"
she said. "Even if Saddam has 900 palaces, that is not a reason to bomb us."

***********************************************************
C. US offensive on Iraq 'postponed until next year'
By David Usborne in New York

Independent
29 April 2002

United States military and policy planners have concluded they cannot rely
on internal opposition forces to speed the ejection of Iraq's President,
Saddam Hussein, and that Britain is probably the only ally available to help
in a huge offensive to end his regime.

A consensus has also emerged in Washington that military action against
President Saddam, whose 65th birthday yesterday was celebrated with parades
in Iraq, will not be viable this autumn and will have to wait until next
year.

Pentagon officials concede that any campaign against Iraq will be a
combination of air power and a large-scale ground assault, using between
100,000 and 250,000 troops. Britain, which faces difficulties mustering
political support domestically for such an attack, would be relied upon to
contribute to the ground force.

Several factors have converged to make an assault this year unviable,
including the resistance voiced to the US by several Arab governments and
the continuing Middle East violence. Officials insist, however, that George
Bush is determined to see President Saddam removed from power.

Defence officials say the Afghan model, where indigenous forces assisted the
defeat of the Taliban regime will not work in Iraq where opposition forces
are too scattered and weak. Nor does Washington envisage a coup.

"There have been six coup attempts and theyconsistently fail," a White House
official said. "It's a horrific police state. Nobody trusts anyone, so how
can you pull off a coup?"

************************************************************
D. Bush has blueprint to oust Saddam
By Toby Harnden in Washington

Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 29/04/2002)

PRESIDENT Bush is drawing up plans for a full-scale ground invasion of Iraq
to be carried out by American and British troops without using bases in
Saudi Arabia.

Bush administration officials told the New York Times that military planners
had concluded that a force of up to 250,000 troops and a big air campaign
would be needed to topple Saddam Hussein.

Officials said the invasion would probably be delayed until next year
because of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and State Department concern that
tackling Iraq would inflame Arab opinion.

The talk of invasion plans underlines the reality that Mr Bush has decided
to take military action against Saddam.

When asked recently whether military action against Iran was desirable, Ryan
Crocker, the deputy assistant secretary of state for the Near East, replied
that it was better to have "one fight at a time and clearly our primary
focus now is on the Iraq situation".

The White House appears to have decided that neither a coup nor the "Afghan
model", in which Kurdish and Sh'ia fighters would be backed up by US special
forces and air power, would be certain to succeed.

The Pentagon has drawn up its plans relying on using bases in Turkey and
Kuwait because it believes that Saudi Arabia is unreliable and potentially
unstable.

********************************************************
E. Dark clouds hang over Iraq during a time of celebration: Robin Allen and
Richard Wolffe look at US options in campaign to topple Saddam:
Financial Times; Apr 29, 2002
By ROBIN ALLEN, NEWS AGENCIES: AGENCY MATERIAL, PETER SPIEGEL and RICHARD
WOLFFE

In Tikrit, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's hometown, schoolgirls yesterday
marked the climax of nationwide festivities by waving Iraqi and Palestinian
flags as part of birthday celebrations for the leader and an aggressive
response to what Iraqi state-run media called "US- British-Zionist
colonialism".

Throughout the country, more than 1m Iraqis were reported to have taken to
the streets to celebrate Mr Saddam's 65th birthday.

But as the Bush administration continues to draw up plans to topple his
regime, Mr Saddam is engaging in a robust display of public defiance and
anti-US diplomacy.

Naji Sabri, the Iraqi foreign minister, yesterday arrived in Moscow seeking
support from one of Iraq's closest allies on the United Nations Security
Council as the US stepped up efforts to tighten the sanctions against Iraq
and re-introduce UN weapons inspectors.

Iraq has sought to persuade Moscow to shift its position on sanctions before
a UN vote next month. An it has indicated it is willing to allow weapons
inspectors to return on their mission to root out weapons of mass
destruction.

Within the Arab world, Mr Saddam has intervened repeatedly to court public
opinion by suspending oil exports and increasing financial support to the
families of Palestinian suicide bombers, amid the escalation of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Such efforts have met some success. Even Saudi officials have warned the US
to back off from plans for military action against Iraq. Crown Prince
Abdullah of Saudi Arabia made clear there was little room for Arab support
for any US military action against Iraq in the short-term when he met
President George W. Bush in Texas last week.

Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said yesterday that Iraq
was already complying with US demands by guaranteeing Kuwait's territorial
integrity and offering to support the return of UN inspectors.

"This is what the United States wanted to be implemented and we think this
is what the Iraqis have offered," he told the ABC News programme This Week.

This flurry of diplomatic activity has been matched by an increase in
military movements in the Gulf, and discussions in Washington. US officials
appear to have ruled out the option of the "Afghanistan model" - relying on
local opposition leaders to mount a civil war or a coup against Mr Saddam.

The Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella group of Iraqi opposition groups,
said last month it would only have a political role in any change of regime.
Military and diplomatic officials in Washington have long questioned the
abilities of the Iraqi opposition to overthrow Mr Saddam, and recent reports
suggest the administration has concluded that a coup is unlikely to succeed.

At the same time, military movements in the Gulf suggest the build-up to a
US attack on Iraq may already be under way.

Observers in Kuwait have noted the recent arrival of about 600 German troops
specialising in anti-bacteriological warfare. Several hundred

Czech germ warfare specialists have also recently landed in Kuwait. At least
one US C-130 Galaxy aircraft has been seen arriving daily for the past
several months.

About 8,000-10,000 US airforce and ground troops are based at Camp Doha, and
a further unknown number of US units are at nearby Ali Al Salem airbase.
Kuwait is the only country in the Gulf that fully backs a new war against
Iraq and is likely to provide the US with full military support.

But military analysts say that even with Kuwait on board, a second Gulf base
is essential for any US operation, even if Turkey allows full use of its
Incirlik airbase in the south of the country near the Iraqi border.

Faced with opposition in much of the rest of the Arab world to a new Iraq
war, the Pentagon is re-evaluating its deployments across the region.

US officials declined to comment but reports of a search for an alternative
to Saudi Arabia have intensified since Israel launched its military
operation in the West Bank.

The US already has an access agreement with Oman, and other facilities in at
least two of the city states which comprise the United Arab Emirates: at Min
Had airbase near Dubai and Fujairah on the Arabian Sea.

But the most important presence is in Saudi Arabia, where US forces are
based in Dhahran, and at a key air command-and-control centre near Riyadh.
Some analysts say this is the minimum the US needs inside Saudi Arabia in
the event of an attack on Iraq.

Qatar is emerging as the most likely alternative to Saudi bases. The US
already has enough pre-positioned equipment for two full armoured brigades
at Al-Udaid outside Doha, the capital. Meanwhile the number of US ground
forces there has been increased from several hundred last year to over
2,000.

Unlike Bahrain, where anti-US demonstrators attacked the US embassy this
month, Qatar has looked a safe option, according to regional analysts. It
has also played the regional maverick when it chose to. "Qatar would love to
receive US forces," said one Gulf analyst.

*************************************************************
F. U.S. Envisions Blueprint on Iraq Including Big Invasion Next Year
By THOM SHANKER and DAVID E. SANGER

April 28, 2002
New York Times

WASHINGTON,  The Bush administration, in developing a potential approach
for toppling President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, is concentrating its
attention on a major air campaign and ground invasion, with initial
estimates contemplating the use of 70,000 to 250,000 troops.

The administration is turning to that approach after concluding that a coup
in Iraq would be unlikely to succeed and that a proxy battle using local
forces there would be insufficient to bring a change in power.

But senior officials now acknowledge that any offensive would probably be
delayed until early next year, allowing time to create the right military,
economic and diplomatic conditions. These include avoiding summer combat in
bulky chemical suits, preparing for a global oil price shock, and waiting
until there is progress toward ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Until recently, the administration had contemplated a possible confrontation
with Mr. Hussein this fall, after building a case at the United Nations that
the Iraqi leader is unwilling to allow the kind of highly intrusive
inspections needed to prove that he has no weapons of mass destruction.

Now that schedule seems less realistic. Conflict in the Middle East has
widened a rift within the administration over whether military action can be
undertaken without inflaming Arab states and prompting anti-American
violence throughout the region.

In his public speeches, President Bush still sounds as intent as ever about
ousting Mr. Hussein, making it clear that he will not let the Middle East
crisis obscure his goal. But he has not issued any order for the Pentagon to
mobilize its forces, and today there is no official "war plan."

Instead, policy makers and operational commanders are trying to sketch out
the broad outlines of the confrontation they expect.

Among the many questions they must address is where to base air and ground
forces in the region.

Even before Mr. Bush's tense meeting with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi
Arabia on Thursday, the Pentagon was working on the assumption that it might
have to carry out any military action without the use of bases in the
kingdom.

The planning now anticipates the possible extensive use of bases for
American forces in Turkey and Kuwait, with Qatar as the replacement for the
sophisticated air operations center in Saudi Arabia, and with Oman and
Bahrain playing important roles.

As to any war plan itself, the military expects to be asked for a more
traditional approach than the unconventional campaign in Afghanistan. Such
an approach would resemble the Persian Gulf war in style if not in size and
would be fought with even more modern weapons and more dynamic tactics.

"The president has not made any decisions," a senior Defense Department
official said. "But any efforts against Iraq will not look like what we did
in Afghanistan."

Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and their
senior aides contend that Arab leaders would publicly protest but secretly
celebrate Mr. Hussein's downfall  as long as the operation were decisive 
and that ousting him would actually ease the job of calming violence between
Israel and the Palestinians. They believe that warnings of uprisings among
Arab populations are overblown and compare them to similar warnings before
the gulf war, which proved unfounded.

"It has been the consistent drumbeat from our friends in the region that if
we are serious, they will be with us," said an administration official in
this camp.

But others at the State Department and the White House argue that efforts to
topple Mr. Hussein would be viewed by Arabs as a confrontation with Islam,
destabilizing the region and complicating the broader campaign against Osama
bin Laden and his network, Al Qaeda.

The reaction in Saudi Arabia is already critical. The United States would
need permission to use Saudi airspace adjacent to Iraq, if not Saudi air
bases, officials said, but it is unclear whether Mr. Bush took up that
subject with Crown Prince Abdullah when the topic of Iraq came up. Mr.
Rumsfeld, who met with the Saudi leader a day ahead of Mr. Bush, said access
to bases "was not a topic at all" of his discussions.

Turkish officials, for their part, said that no negotiations on basing
American troops for a new campaign against Iraq had yet taken place;
American officials confirmed that, calling such talks premature.

Kuwait's position, too, is uncertain. At an Arab League summit meeting in
March, Iraq agreed to recognize Kuwait and pledged not to invade again in
exchange for a declaration that an attack on Iraq would be considered an
attack against all Arab states. But American officials said they could rely
on Kuwait, whose very survival is owed to American military power after Iraq
invaded the country in 1990.

Senior administration, Pentagon and military officials say that consensus
has emerged that there is little chance for a military coup to unseat Mr.
Hussein from within, even with the United States exerting economic and
military pressure and providing covert assistance.

"There have been at least six coup attempts in the 1990's, and they
consistently fail," an administration official said. In each instance, this
official said, dissident Iraqi military officers "sent signals to us, `We're
ready for a coup,' and the next thing you know these guys are murdered or it
fails or people have cold feet at the end and leave the country."

"It's a horrific police state," the official said. "Nobody trusts anyone, so
how can you pull off a coup?"

Similarly, officials say they do not believe that even an expanded version
of the strategy used to oust the Taliban from Afghanistan would work. In
that model, precision airstrikes combined with indigenous armed opposition
under the leadership of American Special Operations forces and C.I.A.
officers did the job.

The parallel strategy in Iraq would involve the Kurds in the north and the
Shiites in the south. But Mr. Hussein's military, while only one-third its
strength from before the gulf war, is strong enough to defeat any
confrontation by proxy, officials said.


Officials said the nascent plans for a heavy air campaign and land assault
already included rough numbers of troops, ranging from a minimum of about
70,000 to 100,000  one Army corps or a reinforced corps  to a top of
250,000 troops, which still would be only half the number used in the gulf
war. Other than troops from Britain, no significant contribution of allied
forces is anticipated.

The military requirements for changing the government in Baghdad would be
vastly different than the gulf war mission, which was to drive an entrenched
enemy from a large occupied area, senior military officers said.

"We would not need to hold territory and protect our flanks to the same
extent," one officer said. "You would see a higher level of maneuver and
airborne assault, dropping in vertically and enveloping targets  less
slogging mile by mile through the desert."

Even so, officers said, moving tens of thousands of troops to a region with
access more limited than in the gulf war could be a logistical challenge.
The modern American military has never fought the kind of dangerous and
complicated urban battles that might be needed to oust the Hussein
government.

Dealing with Mr. Hussein's suspected chemical and biological weapons would
require pre-emptive strikes by precision weapons, as well as an element of
heavy deterrence.

"One of the things we would want to do is say that any Iraqi officer or
soldier who throws chemical or biological weapons at us will be held
personally responsible," said Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at Johns Hopkins
University who directed the Air Force's definitive study of the Persian Gulf
war. "You say, `You guys operating the missile batteries: we will find you,
and you will pay.' Saddam's people have no desire to go down in a blaze of
glory with him."

While the Pentagon has focused on how to remove Mr. Hussein, the White House
is also mindful of the effects of a war on oil supplies  either because the
fighting itself would disrupt the flow of oil, or because Saudi Arabia and
other Arab producers would feel obliged because of political pressure at
home to cut exports to the United States.

R. Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the White House's Council of Economic
Advisers, said the administration had examined the possible effects of a
spike in oil prices caused by spreading unrest in the Middle East or an
invasion of Iraq.

He said a surge in oil prices would probably not by itself have a large
effect on the American economy. But he said it was more difficult to assess
the possible effects on consumer and business confidence. One of the lessons
of the gulf war, he said, was that consumer confidence recovered once the
United States made clear that it intended to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait
and guarantee the security of the Saudi oilfields.

In November, Mr. Bush ordered that the government's Strategic Petroleum
Reserve be filled to capacity. A review of the reserve's delivery schedule
shows that many of the largest monthly deliveries are between September and
January, another reason to put off any offensive against Iraq to early next
year.

"We want to be in a position to go into the markets if speculators begin
bidding up the price of oil, and settle them down fast," one official said.





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