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[casi] October attack?

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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

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

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

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

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

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"

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