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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] I find the idea of 'clandestine' operations in Iraq not only naiive, but almost laughably quaint. Iraqi intelligence with its 'pyramid' system works rather like Israel. To use the Afghan quote: 'a strange dog in the neighbourhood would be noted.' Still no discussion of the legality of going it alone to overthrow governments it seems. And mention of the UN seems to have been long forgotten - but then the UN has made itself pretty forgettable, best, f. +++++++++++++ 4. - National Review Online - "Iraq Attack: Why an October surprise is likely": 19 June 2002 The much-publicized administration split over the fate of a possible Iraq invasion has given way to adoption of the hawks' timetable and message by President George W. Bush, meaning an October surprise could be in the offing. The nation's capital has been buzzing with Iraq speculation following the Washington Post article over the weekend stating that Bush had signed an order earlier this year for the Central Intelligence Agency to use lethal force, if necessary, to effect "regime change" in Iraq. Although the story, which many administration officials believe was leaked by CIA Director George Tenet, may have been intended to show that military action won't be needed until winter (since the CIA is "on the case"), it actually underscores the president's firm commitment to ridding the world of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. The only direction from there is an attack on Iraq sooner, not later. The Iraq guessing game has been popular for months now, but with inaction dragging on, the general sentiment among career bureaucrats in the State Department was typified by a senior administration official, who explains that attacking Iraq is a matter of "waiting for the environment to ripen." Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, who has been an open advocate of freedom for the Iraqi people, believes that the wait-and-see approach is pure folly. "I hope to God they're getting forces in place while they're waiting for the 'environment to ripen'," he comments. Preparations for an assault on Iraq are already being made. "The military planning is considerably more advanced than most people realize. There's more than 40,000 troops in the arena already," notes Francis Brooke, the Washington adviser to the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the umbrella group for anti-Hussein resistance organizations. Brooke also cites reports he has heard that Kuwaiti hotels are practically overrun lately by United States military personnel. Aside from the slow, if relatively modest, military buildup in the region, planning for a covert-style operation is barreling forward, full-speed ahead. A senior administration official says that this is necessary because, "superpowers don't wait for environments, they create them." Another senior administration official says that the military campaign in Iraq will be one marked by stealth, "[because] the ability to act clandestinely is vitally important" The "clandestine" model is one patterned intentionally after the successful Afghanistan campaign, but even most proponents of this strategy readily acknowledge that Iraq is not a straight parallel. Though Hussein's military power far exceeds anything controlled by the Taliban, "the greatest concern is that [Hussein] will follow a Hitler-in-the-bunker mentality," notes a senior administration official. There seems to be legitimate disagreement about how loyal Hussein's troops will remain after a ground campaign is launched — the smart money seems to be on not very — but even the most cautious military planners concede that the calculus is different than in the Gulf War, where use of ground forces lasted a fraction of the time spent deploying them. The Army, under the leadership of Secretary of the Army Thomas White (who is ensnarled in Enron entanglements) and Gen. Eric Shinseki (whose greatest accomplishment is getting Army soldiers into black berets, and shifting the elite Rangers into tan ones), has been leaking like a sieve to the media, warning that 200,000 to 250,000 troops — less than half the number deployed for the Gulf War — will be necessary for any invasion into Iraq. But retired Gen. Wayne Downing, perhaps the foremost expert on military operations in Iraq from his experience as commander of the joint special-operations task force during the Gulf War, has been spearheading the move, from his new perch at the National Security Council, to attack Iraq with a fluid mix of special forces and air strikes as part of the Afghanistan model. The stealth strategy would bear little resemblance to the Gulf War, with elite United States forces working with Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south — under the cover of the respective no-fly zones — to topple Hussein. The first step in this game plan would likely be capturing the oil fields in southern Iraq, which a senior administration official describes as "vital." "Take away [Hussein's] oil, and you sap his strength," he says. The only other major piece of the puzzle relates to basing issues. Few in the administration are optimistic that Saudi Arabia will actively lend a helping hand, but a strong showing of American might will almost certainly result in passive cooperation from the House of Saud, in the form of granting permission to fly thru Saudi air space. The Saudi royal family dreads the prospect of a beachhead of democracy being established at its doorstep, but the despotic princes probably fear the possibility of America as an enemy even more. The Saudi problem isn't one under the scenario of using Turkey and Kuwait as basing hubs, and both nations are expected to be in the fold when the invasion is launched. Though publicly skeptical toward U.S. plans in the region, conventional wisdom has it that Kuwait won't get in the way of a serious and concerted U.S. effort to topple Hussein. Many had thought that signing up Turkey posed the more challenging hurdle, but ailing Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit will have enough on his hands with trying to hold together his fragile, three-party ruling coalition. The current balance of power is such that "the power is with Turkey's military, and they will persuade the government to come along if we are clear and decisive," says Woolsey. Outside of Turkey and Kuwait, the United States already has a strong presence in nearby Oman, and as mentioned in a previous NRO piece, Gen. Tommy Franks has been to Eritrea several times to discuss basing issues. The coalescing of favorable strategic factors no doubt played a role in the president's recent embrace of the hawkish position on Iraq. The shift in power between the civilian leadership at Defense and careerists at State became clear with the unveiling of the new "first strike" policy nearly three weeks ago, which says that America will abandon the Cold War principles of containment and deterrence in favor of striking first when necessary. Despite such public signals of Bush's newfound sympathies, a senior administration official happily notes that the doves at Near East Affairs (NEA) in the State Department still "don't realize that they're being left out of the process." The same official, however, expresses dismay that NEA bureaucrats are "doing their best to screw things up with the INC and on sanctions." Interestingly, administration officials advocating a fall attack on Iraq have fleeting concerns, if any, about inevitable charges from the left of an "October surprise" or of "wagging the dog." Cooler heads are thankfully prevailing with the argument that military policy can't be dictated by politics. Even though most systems seem to be pointing to go, the INC's Brooke cautions, "We've been through this game before. The old thinking was May, but Afghanistan and the Mideast got in the way, and now there's India-Pakistan. And of course, suicide bombings can always flare up again at a moment's notice" _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk