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War With Iraq

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Created: October 5, 2002
Latest Update: October 7, 2002

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Site Teaching Modules War with Iraq: Military Strategy

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, September 2002.
"Fair use" encouraged.

Even though the commercial media don't give equal coverage to the many perspectives on war, there is information out there. Look at how much we have learned, and be sure to notice how we accessed the information. Lood at the "page source" under "view" to see what sites we are using. When accessing information this way, remember that it is crucial to check through who the people are providing the information. Remember that information is not neutral. It must be interpreted, and it is interpreted through ideology and theory. The interpretation colors even what we call "the facts." And remember, please, to look for more than one viewpoint. That helps us recall that these are not objective, cold facts, but real people caught in real situations, all of whom see the situation itself differently.

Here's where I started:

More tough talk on war with Iraq By Wolf Blitzer. CNN Wolf Blitzer Reports. Backup. Actual military assessment and strategies. Not even predicted to be a quick war, unless the Iraqui military turns against Bush in a coup. But August link. Link added October 5, 2002.

jeanne's comment: What percentage of the mititary strategy will actually involve airstrikes such as were used in Afghanistan and in the Gulf War? Do those expecting air strikes mostly have any evidence that this will be the primary strategy? I still haven't found answers to these questions, but I'll start hunting again, as sson as all your comments are up

Meanwhile try this pdf file. You'll need Acrobat reader to pull it up: [Pdf file: n2gvso5j.pdf ] Iraq’s Military Capabilities: Fighting A Wounded, But Dangerous, Poisonous Snake. By Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair for Strategy. Center for Strategic and International Studies. December 3, 2001

"Iraq is still poisonous. It is still the largest military power in the Gulf in terms of sheer numbers. Iran only has about half Iraq’s major equipment strength. Mismanagement and underfunding have led to a significant decline in Saudi army and air force capabilities since 1995, and Kuwait has a limited military strength of around 15,000 men. Without the US and Britain, Iraq would still dominate the Gulf.

"Iraq’s military forces still have over 400,000 actives, some 375,000 men in its army, and the ability to mobilize up to 400,000 more reserves with some degree of combat capability. They still have some 2,200 main battle tanks, some 3,700 other armored weapons, 2,200 major artillery weapons, and 70-90 armed helicopters. They still have some 316 combat aircraft, most of which can be operational for at least short periods. They have some 140-160 major surface-to-air missile launchers, perhaps another 500-700 light surface-to-air missile launchers, and some 3,000 antiaircraft guns. . . .

"The Iraqi air force has shown it can sustain several hundred sorties a day for at least several days, and the Air Defense Command has shown since 1997 that it can survive constant US and British attempts to defeat it. . . .

"At the same time, at least half of Iraq’s army consists of low-grade reserve and conscripts and many of these personnel are Shi’ites of uncertain loyalty. About half of its land order of battle consists of relatively low-grade infantry units, and only one of its seven corps really seems combat ready enough to conduct major offensive or defensive operations. . . .

"Iraq’s Capability Against US and British Forces Given all this, how well could this wounded snake fight? Well, much depends on intangibles and the particular contingency. One key intangible is morale and loyalty. Americans tend to be far too glib about assuming that Saddam is highly unpopular and much of the Iraqi force is disloyal. Such disloyalty and defections are possible if the military believes it faces decisive defeat, or does not see an attack as a threat to Iraq as a nation or the Arab world. Saddam has, however, had a decade in which to indoctrinate the Iraqis into believing the US and outside world are responsible for Iraq’s defeats and hardships, and Iraq has always been a relatively well managed tyranny that mixed incentives with terror, and Iraq’s military and leadership elite is now much wealthier than it has been in years. In spite of the propaganda from self-serving opposition groups, this snake might still prove to be willing to fight". . . .

"The outcome could, however, be very different if Iraq did not fight conventionally and there are two ways it might be able to use asymmetric warfare. While much would depend on the loyalty of the population and the army, dispersing and sheltering in towns and cities would make it much harder to use air and missile power effectively. Iraqi fixed facilities would remain highly vulnerable, but Desert Fox, Kovoso, and Afghanistan have all shown that air targeting and weaponry have not reached the point where it is possible to destroy massive amounts of major ground weapons without high collateral damage and civilian casualties. . . .

Here are some other files I found, but I haven't got study notes up yet. October 6, 2002:

  • The Battered Bush Syndrome On the Green Nature Site, mostly devoted to ecology, with little information about who controls it. Lack of evidence against Saddam Hussein in relation to September 11. Backup. Link added October 5, 2002.
  • Hawks, Doves, Owls and Loons: Making Sense of War with Iraq On the Green Nature Site. I liked the way they set up a table to explain the various positions. Good summary of the way a War Against Iraq could turn out. Link added October 5, 2002.
  • Foreign Affairs Good academic source of information on Foreign Affairs. Link added October 5, 2002.
  • Bush and the World. By Michael Hirsh. Foreign Affairs Site. "The Bush doctrine has been used to justify a new assertiveness abroad unprecedented since the early days of the Cold War -- amounting nearly to the declaration of American hegemony -- and it has redefined U.S. relationships around the world."(In the third paragraph, about an inch down the file.) Remember "hegemony?" Link added October 5, 2002.
  • Next Stop Baghdad? by Kenneth M. Pollack. From Foreign Affairs, March/April 2002. Backup 1, Backup 2, Backup 3, Backup 4, Backup 5, Backup 6. Link added October 5, 2002.
  • The Real Rationale for War by Christopher G. Adamo. September 29, 2002. Conserative Truth.Org. The Antidote to the Liberal News Media. Retriibutiion is the real reason. Link added October 5, 2002.