Saturday, March 22, 2003

I Hope I Am Wrong

Its odd that chem/bio weapons have not been used. Very odd. The Iraqi's may be saving it for use in and around Baghdad. I Hope I Am Wrong.

Friday, March 21, 2003

All the "News" blah blah blah

Ny Times is becoming a parody publication.

The Beers

Via Rantburg. There was a story from UPI a couple of days ago about Mr Beers, National Security Council's senior director of counter-terrorism since August, resigned. There are all sorts of questions/speculation about what lead to the resignation. As you can imagine this has all sorts of politically exploitable characteristics. Especially, if there is some truth to the resignation being a manifestation of a rift in the intelligence community.

Basically, Beers says the resignation is personal. Which could mean the job is too much for him and his family. But the article says (without naming names)
But the same sources, and other current and former intelligence officials, described a broad consensus in the anti-terrorism and intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq would divert critical resources from the war on terror.
There is another opinion later in the article.
"I found his resignation shocking," said one official closely involved in the domestic fight on terror. "And it might reflect a certain frustration over the allocation of resources. But I'm not positive that there's a consensus (among intelligence services) that deposing Saddam's regime is a bad idea for fighting terror. I think that there are serious concerns about resources and alienating allies, but some of us see an upside."
Also the article quotes James Branford, author of books on the NSA, also an openly liberal voice and critic of the intelligence community.
"This is a very intriguing decision (by Beers)," said author and intelligence expert James Bamford. "There is a predominant belief in the intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq will cause more terrorism than it will prevent. There is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment by intelligence professionals that there have been so many lies out of the administration -- by the president, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell -- over Iraq."
Just because he is liberal does not change the color of his facts, but there are no facts in the above quote just innuendo.

There is a mention of documents used by Bush, Powell and Co siting Iraq's continued nuclear program which were later proved to be false. What are these documents? They are supposed to show Iraq buying mined uranium from Niger. ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the documents are false and Powell claims the US got them from a third party.

Personally, I doubt Iraq has a nuclear program. Why? Because a couple of years ago some Iraqi nuke scientists had defected (no link doing this from memory) and said Iraq had shifted its focus to biological and chem development from nuclear. Biological weapons have the advantage of being "cheap" to develop and difficult to detect vs nuclear, which needs a bigger infrastructure. On the other hand, there are cases of nuclear weapons being developed right under the noses of inspections. Israel is the perfect example. While the US was performing inspections of Israeli nuke plants, the Israelis would brick up entrances to clandestine weapons labs to avoid discovery. The US did not find out about Israel's nuke capabilities till the Yom Kipur War. Bottom line if somebody really, really, really wants something it will be very difficult to keep them from getting it eventually. We will find out soon enough if Iraq really has continued developing nukes, but there is little doubt about chem and, even worse, bio weapons.

As for the terrorism vs war concerns. There is no consensus in the intelligence community about Iraqi war leading to more terrorism, if by "more terrorism" you mean creating a new long standing grievance that people can hang their hat on. There can not be, predicting human behavior is not very easy. Short term the war can definitely bring more amateurs out of the wood work. What do you expect when the Arab governments, media and intellectuals blame the US for their people's misery. These people would have been inspired to terror by US attacks in Afghanistan against the Taliban. They will oppose whatever the US does, so unless you plan on bringing all the US military personnel home, this is a pretty moot point.

If Iraq is not involved in terror, even at least as a contractor of murder, I would be so shocked my head might fall off. Attacking Iraq as part of the "War on Terror" makes sense. It involves some heavy lifting, but the payoff can be significant. Significant for the US and for the Iraqis. Personally I would not lose much sleep if the US decided to attack North Korea, Syria, China, Cuba or any other murderous regime.

Back In The Day

Some historians have speculated that the Germans could have had a much easier time in conquering the Soviet Union (1941) if they had not been such evil bastards as occupiers. After the Hitler-Stalin pact had broken down with the German push west. The Germans were welcomed with flowers in the Ukraine, more than 20 years of life under the Communists was enough. Unfortunately, the Germans used up their good will rather quickly.

Historical parallels should always be taken with a grain of salt. But the Iraqi resistance to the coalition advance has a historical precedent in the original Stalinist. Except this time the Stalinists regime is not going to be replaced by a commy horse of another color

God's Speed

The Pentagon is preparing a force of Iraqi-Americans called the Free Iraqi Forces (FIF). PBS (who would of thought?) reports...
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: The Pentagon says nearly 1,000 Iraqi-Americans have already been sent to Hungary for a four-week army training course for FIF fighters. Mahdi Altwabaa was eager to join the FIF, which will fight under the supervision of U.S. forces.

MAHDI ALTWABAA: The reason for all these people -- and I've been talking to every single one of them -- most of them they victimized by Saddam Hussein and his bloody regime. Most of these people, me personally, I got two brothers executed back in '87.

ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Nasrat has been trying to think of a way to tell his family he is leaving, but he hasn't come up with one. He is particularly worried about telling his mother.

ELIZABETH BRACKETT: So you haven't told her yet?

NASRAT: No.

ELIZABETH BRACKETT: And you're leaving tomorrow?

NASRAT: And tomorrow, yep. So I'm going to surprise her.

Shame and Cowardice

Latest Salam Pax post. For me the most poignant excerpt...
On BBC we are watching scenes of Iraqis surrendering. My youngest cousin was muttering “what shame” to himself, yes it is better for them to do that but still seeing them carrying that white flag makes something deep inside you cringe. we sit infront of the TV with the mao of Iraq on our laps trying to figure out what is going on in the south.
Let me first dispense with the usual rational explanation of surrender. It is better to surrender than to die. Forget the centuries of culture that has lifted man above the animals often on the back of courage. Forget that it would be better for everybody if this war ended with few casualties on all sides. It is too early to claim complete defeat, but what if it continues like this? It is sad to see people who are so adrift in their own homeland that they would rather throw themselves at the mercy of the foreign-devil they don't know rather than with the devil they do.

I am not sad that these Iraqi's chose to surrender than fight. I prefer it. I would not have the courage to withstand the US military. But I wonder where is the courage to build a new country going to come from? I hope its out there.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Remember

Before there was Operation Iraqi Freedom there was Operation Great Job!
"With Operation Great Job!, we send the message loud and clear to Saddam Hussein that his open defiance of the United Nations and international law will not be tolerated," Clinton said. "We also send the equally important message to our own troops that what's important is not whether you defeat the enemy, but that you try your best and have fun."

Monday, March 17, 2003

For what its worth

Some pros have some advice about what to expect...
•The Iraqi popular forces (ie, conscripts) will remain passive during the war. The professional soldiers are another story.
•There are elite and professional Iraqi soldiers embedded in the population.
•Oil wells have been mined. When those mines go off expect CNN to be there and causing panic in the markets.
•The war will commence with intense precision bombing attack. Followed by a ground invasion.
•Intentions of chem/bio attack by Iraq is almost guaranteed. Probability of success is totally dependent on success of precision strikes. The chem/bio strikes must occur early because the longer the war progress the more likely they will lose access to those weapons.
•A terrorist chem/bio attack is a possibility and concern.
•Precision munitions will be more than 65% of those fired, as compared to Gulf War 1 where they were about 3%.
•Many targets are in urban areas, so you expect lots of Iraqi/CNN footage of civilian casualties.
•It will take at most 10 days to reach Baghdad.
•Then it will take 3-4 weeks to take Baghdad.
•Then it will take approximately 4 weeks to occupy Iraq. Depending on how many scores are going to be settled by the aggrieved. Keeping Sunnis and Shiites apart will be a concern.
•Expect lots of disinformation from all sides.
Or has it already begun. Probably. The only thing left to do is pray it all works out for the better.

Rumors

Lots of rumors swirling around today. Iraq is surrendering, San Fran is surrendering, France is surrendering, US is surrendering. Just keep your head down and increase your discounting of "reported" news till something actually does happen.

Happy St Pats.

Sadaam futures over at tradesport have spiked up. The June 03 future is trading at ~92% (thats a new high), the March 03 is at ~48%, April 03 is at 86 and May 03 is at 91.