Saturday, March 11, 2006

War Plans, WMD, & Saddam

Interviews, incidents, and documents demonstrating how fearful Saddam Hussein was of any possible upheaval, coup, or revolt from within Iraq that he took positive steps to thwart the work of his own army, according to the New York Times today (adapted from the book "Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq" to be released by Pantheon Books March 14.) Saddam refused to permit communications between military units, denied requests for troop movements from Western Iraq (fro which Hussein believed the invasion would come) to meet the US Marines invading northward through the Karbala Gap (as his top Generals believed the invasion would come.)

American intelligence analysts, disguised as military historians, interviewed over 110 Iraqi officials and military officers to prepare a secret report detailing how Saddam Hussein prepared for and fought the war. Some officials were treated to lavish dinners while others were questioned at the Baghdad airport or Abu Ghraib Prison. Captured Iraqi documents were also reviewed - more than 600 of them. The investigators believe the accounts to be credible because of the similarity of accounts. The classified version was written in April 1995 and a declassified version will be released soon. The study entitled "Iraqi Perspectives on Operation Iraqi Freedom, Major Combat Operations," shows that Saddam dismissed the possibility of a full-scale American invasion. "A few weeks before the attacks Saddam still thought the U.S. would not use ground forces," former Iraqi deputy prime minister, Taiq Aziz, told the Americans. "He (Saddam) thought they would not fight a ground war because it would be too costly to the Americans."

Iraqi officers devised a strategy of fighting retreat and yielding territory as the Russians had done when Napoleon invaded and later when Hitler attempted to invade Mother Russia. This was one of many miscalculations by Saddam. He and his officers failed to recognize that the Russian Army defeated neither Napoleon nor Hitler - the Russian winter did. Iraq simply does not have Russian winters.

When Saddam compared the threat from the United States to the threat from his own generals and people, the US was not seen as much of a threat. From the experience of the the First Gulf War in 1991, Saddam saw the Coalition Forces stop their advance south of Baghdad which was interpreted as an unwillingness by Washington, D.C., Pres. George H.W. Bush, and the American people to accept significant loses. The President wanted to avoid the pitfalls of occupying Iraq and had no mandate from the UN nor the Coalition partners to do any more than remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Many historians doubt anyone would have complained too loudly if Baghdad had been taken and the Saddam regime ended in 1991, but the fact remains, that was not the plan nor the agreement.

When it came to WMD, weapons of mass destruction, the interrogators were told Iraq didn't have any. So secretive was the Iraqi dictator and tightly compartmentalized was information that his top military commanders were stunned when told by Saddam in December 2002, three months before the war started, that Iraq possessed no stockpiles of poison gas, no germ weapons, and no nuclear bombs. The commanders were completely demoralized. They had planned the defense of Iraq around those weapons and late in the game they were told the WMD did not exist.

The WMD were lies Saddam concocted to deter Iran and homegrown enemies. He had hoped the possibility of WMD would also deter the US and the Coalition forces. The goal Saddam sought was cooperation with the UN inspectors while preserving WMD ambiguity. General Hamdani of the Republican Guard called the strategy "deterrence by doubt."

In order to pass muster, Saddam ordered complete access to the UN arms teams. But, at the same time, he ordered a national spring cleaning in which all of the weapons sites would be scrubbed free of all vestiges of previous unconventional weapons research and manufacture. The cleaning included moving dirty material from the sites on trucks just before the inspectors arrived because the inspectors would change the destination enroute and the Iraqis didn't know exactly what site was to be examined. The Western powers saw this as a shell game and begame more suspicious.

Saddam Hussein's noncompliance in turning over all records pertaining to the destruction of weapons stockpiles, refusal to allow his weapons scientists out of the country were calculated to preserve "deterrence by doubt" and avoid war. Actually, the actions had the opposite effect.

Addressing the UN Security Council in February 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell gave photographs and communications intercepts as evidence that Iraq was rapidly trying to sanitize the weapons sites. The efforts to spiff-up and remove residue were seen by Western intelligence agencies as trying to hide evidence of unconventional arms manufacture. The very actions Saddam had ordered the reduce the threat of war actually guaranteed a military confrontation.

Though he thought he knew all the government's secrets, the man in charge of Iraq's military industries, Abd al-Tawab Mullah Huwaish, was very impressed by Powell's evidence. The Bush Administration was so adamant the weapons did exist that Huwaish began questioning if Iraq actually had the weapons. After the war, he told interrogators, "I knew a lot, but wondered why Bush believed we had these weapons."

"We didn't believe it would go all the way to Baghdad," a senior Republican Guard staff officer later told his interrogators. "We thought the coalition would go to Basra, maybe to Amara, and then the war would end."

Saddam played a dangerous game of lies and deception in which only he knew the rules and the truth. The biggest risk is people may actually believe the lies and disregard the truth. Apparently, that is what happened and it led straight to war. President Bush did not lie about the WMDs. He only believed the lies perpetrated by a liar. The lies the President chose to act upon were the most dangerous if true and it was his duty to act upon the evidence at hand to protect the US, the citizens of America, and the people around the world who could have been harmed. Saddam brought this war on himself and the Iraqi people with his deceptions and subterfuges.

Is Iran playing the same dangerous game?

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Tom said...

The problem that I have is that Saddam used chemical weapons in his campaign against the Kurds. Surely there were some left over!!

Indigo Red said...

Apparently not, Tom. But, I think what was trying to be conveyed was that, even if there were leftovers, it wasn't enough and there was no way to make more.

Saddam's hero was Joe Stalin who was a practiced liar. Remember the Potemkin Villages? The towns set up as decoys for Allied air recon flights were extremely successful.

Later, the Reagan Administration was given credit for causing the collapse of the USSR. It was more a collapse from their own lies and the West believing those tall tales of hundreds of thousands or even millions of nukes, new missiles that were decades ahead of anything we had, lie after lie after lie as Ted Kennedy would say. The Soviet Union fell because we believed and started building better bombs and more of them than Russia could really produce.

My original supposition about Saddam was that there were large quantities of WMD in Iraq. Then, after an e-mail exchange (which I foolishly deleted) with an Iraqi physicist, Imad Khadduri, before he got famous, I started seeing other possipilities, but none could be proved without full access to the Iraqi records. Obliquely, he told me things were not as they seem in Iraq, that the science sector knew things that others didn't, that the scientist were pocketing most of the research money and telling the militry overseers the weapons programs were right on target.

It was then possible to think the scientists were hiding the truth from Saddam with the collusion of the top brass. That was hard to believe given the security apparatus Saddam had set up.

With the new evidence from translated documents, it is very plausible and easier to believe that Saddam was fooling his Army with the cooperation of the scientists. So long as the world, particularly Iran, thought there was the smallest chance of WMD and SH would use them kept his international and internal enemies at bay.

This is NOT to say that the invasion was wrong and that Bush lied. Neither is true. As an example to which we can all relate; a man walks into a bank, says he has a gun, but only indicates it's existance, the police arrive, the robber moves as though he is going to shoot and the police shoot him dead. Later, the police do not find a gun or weapon of any kind. Were the bank people and police wrong to believe there was a gun? No, not at all. Perception is reality until shown to be wrong. When the truth is placed in front of us we should no longer deny its existance.

That Saddam had no WMD, so what? He said he did, he wanted the world to think he did, and wanted the UN to come close to positive findings which would keep the world guessing. "Deterrence by doubt" they called it. When we do it, it's "plausible deniability". No matter what form they take, lies are nothing but Potemkin Villages meant to be believed. When the lies are believed and acted upon on the international scene, massive destruction and death are often the outcome.

dcat said...

Hopefully Saddams death now! What an ass he is! So is anyone else that has bad mouthed the USA!

Nice post Indigo!

Indigo Red said...

Thank you, dcat, but I think I like the reply to Tom better than the post.

Tom said...

Like my boss says,

"Power perceived is power achieved."

I would still bet that there is a cache of chemical warheads somewhere left over from Iraq's 8-year war with Iran, and the attempted genocide of the Kurds. But time will tell...

Indigo Red said...

Still a definate possibilty, Tom. I am only swayed by the report because it is the result of a US Army investigation and they have nothing to gain in reporting no WMD in Iraq. In fact, they have a lot to lose.

But, we also have to remember, the WMD stockpiles were not the only reason to invade. Another stated cause was the desire of Saddam to reconstitute the industry after the UN had left. And that is being borne out in the tapes and documents.

Tom C said...

WMDs were never a priority for me. If they exist, then Syria has them, if not then tough shit! As for Iran, taking an embassy, is an act of war. Jimmy Carter should be strapped to the first missile.