The Israeli Haaretz newspaper offers the opinions of a variety of Israeli military experts on the progress of the war in Iraq. One of their points is that the TV reports are giving an illusion of conveying the nature and progress of the war while much of the US war plan remains quite hidden.
Van Creveld supports the view that the we know little about the American war plan. "I have a list of questions for which I haven't found answers," he said. "Did the American forces cross the Euphrates on their way to Nasiriyah? How far are they from Baghdad? What is air division 101 doing? It is clear to me that the U.S. troops are advancing, but the significance of this advance is not clear. And are the achievements real or not."
One of the reasons I haven't posted much on the blow-by-blow reports on the war is that I similarly have a lot more questions than answers. For instance, what percentage of the Iraqi skirmishers are locals who are really indignant about the American military presence and what percent are from Saddam Fedayeen or Special Republican Guard or top Baathists who have a great deal invested in the regime? What is the significance of the pockets of opposition in terms of what the post-war attitudes will be like? How many of the resisters are fundamentalist Muslims and how many are just hard core regime supporters and how many are fighting out of loyalty to Iraq rather than loyalty to Saddam or to Islam? How much are Iraqis hiding their true feelings until they know for sure that Saddam is going to be gone?
Also, can the US military destroy most of Saddam's armor outside of Baghdad? Can US airpower spot and destroy that armor quickly if that armor starts trying to retreat into Baghdad? What percentage of that armor is so well hidden that US forces do not know where it is? What percentage of the armor is outside of Baghdad in rural areas where it can be destroyed with minimal loss of civilian life?
Have the Iraqis tried to mine the roads? Is it easy to detect mines that have been embedded into roads? Have there been any armor losses to road mines? Will road minnig be a bigger problem closer to Baghdad?
What sorts of conversations are taking place between US forces and Republican Guard officers and other top Iraqi figures? How many will switch sides and under what circumstances? How well positioned are Special Republican Guard and Iraqi intelligence agents to prevent that from happening? Are Iraqi officers telling US forces lies about their willingness to switch sides because they really fear for their families if they try to switch sides? Is the US military faking its reports about secret negotiations with Iraqi officers and regime members? Is it doing so either to make Iraiq officers think that other Iraqi officers are already negotiating and therefore that they should too? Or is this part of an attempt to make Saddam suspect his officers of unfaithfulness?
I have a great many more such questions. There are just so many unknown factors at work in this war that it seems very difficult to interpret the meaning of much of what comes across on television and in written reports. I'm of the opinion that we just have to sit and watch to find out how it will turn out. We don't know enough to know what the heck we are talking about.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 March 25 11:53 PM Military War, Rumours Of War|