Revolutionary Worker #1176, November 24, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org
"Someone was sending a message. These things don't happen by coincidence. Even Colin Powell didn't bother to deny it. On Sunday, both the New York Times and Washington Post had long, detailed stories about the U.S. war plans for pulverizing Saddam."
Washington Post , November 12
"The Bush administration has settled on a plan for a possible invasion of Iraq that envisions seizing most of the country quickly and encircling Baghdad, but assumes that Saddam Hussein will probably fall from power before U.S. forces enter the capital, senior U.S. military officials said... Hedging its bets, the Pentagon is also preparing for the possibility of prolonged fighting in and around Baghdad."
Washington Post, November 10
The U.S. government has deliberately leaked its plans for invading Iraq. The same accounts appeared simultaneously in the New York Times and Washington Post --fleshed out by the "off the record" commentary of "senior military officials." This is the picture the Pentagon wants the world to see of the coming war.
By releasing these plans the U.S. hopes to create favorable conditions for a U.S. victory. The government wants to give the impression that war is coming, and U.S. victory is certain. They hope this will crack the Iraqi military resistance and paralyze antiwar opposition.
The plan presents an image of a war with relatively few civilian or U.S. casualties--a war where urban warfare is avoided, where the most important fighting is U.S. aircraft carrying out flyby assassination attempts of Iraq's leadership. It is a false picture, designed to calm fears all over the world and within the U.S.
These plans say much about the unjustness of the war that is approaching--both in what they envision, and in what they hide.
Unprovoked Attack Starts a "Rolling War"
"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won't last any longer than that. It won't be a World War 3."
Rumsfeld on Infinity Broadcasting radio
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the leading architect of the U.S. plans to invade Iraq, said in a recent interview that the main difference between this war and the 1991 Gulf War is that the U.S. military believes it is much stronger and Iraq is much weaker. The Pentagon's plan is a blueprint for unprovoked attack, assassination, conquest and long-term occupation.
The Pentagon plans call for "large force and quick strikes" to start off a "rolling war"--the modern jargon for World War 2 Nazi Blitzkrieg attack by planes, tanks and mobile infantry against an outmatched opponent. These plans assume an Iraqi army that is operating completely within its own borders and highly defensive.
The plan envisions waves of "precision" bombings to devastate Iraq's government and military command--and the assassination of Iraq's leadership using "bunker buster" bombs tested during the U.S. conquest of Afghanistan.
Press articles have documented that U.S. planes are already practicing bombing runs to these assigned targets. And because these U.S. maneuvers are taking place under cover of a UN order, Iraq's defense forces are specifically forbidden to challenge these aggressive practice runs in any way.
Days of bombing would be followed by "rapid strikes" from the north, west and south, turning Iraqi border regions into U.S. military beachheads. These would provide land bases for the air war, and for the ground advance into the interior of the country. The idea would be to send airborne strikes by troops aimed at specific targets--not a methodical march across the landscape.
The early creation of land bases within Iraq means the ongoing conquest will not be pursued directly from the soil of other Arab countries. The U.S. government knows how unpopular their invasion is around the world, and hopes to avoid destabilizing nearby Arab governments.
Fantasy of Painless Victory
"[O]perations would begin with another desperate attempt to prove that air power alone can win big wars--even though it has not happened yet and will not happen soon. The initial role of the smallish contingents of ground forces in the theater of war would be janitorial. The Army and Marines would seize facilities to support the air war and facilitate logistical support, as well as further troop deployments, if needed. The secret within the not-so-secret plan is that the top decision-makers are hoping that Hussein's regime will collapse. Maybe so. But wise soldiers don't go to war with hope as their primary weapon."
Bourgeois military strategist Ralph Peters, Washington Post , Nov. 15
The Pentagon's vision of easy victory is based on hoping that Iraq will fall apart-- with large-scale desertion, high-level re-fusal to launch available weapons and at some point a military coup against the Saddam Hussein government. It is a vision of war that puts tremendous faith in the "lethality" of modern U.S. weapons-- and on the assumption that there will be little resistance.
This vision has been criticized by many in the U.S. high command as simplistic. Top generals are demanding backup plans for the possibility of a hard and bloody conflict.
As a result, the latest leaked war plan contains a major change from previous scenarios: Up to 250,000 troops will be ready to enter battle in the Middle East if the U.S. attack bogs down. These forces are not expected to all be directly involved when the fighting starts--but they will be prepared in case Rumsfeld's war plans turn sour, or if key parts of the Middle East threaten to fall out of their control.
The Pentagon's official leaked vision of this Iraq invasion dishonestly offers a picture of a relatively bloodless war with few civilian casualties. It paints a picture of a U.S. military that is somehow less brutal because its weapons are more "lethal."
It is also worth pointing out that government censors and the ever-pliant media have routinely hidden massive military atrocities from the people in the U.S.-- including during the Gulf War of 1991, when the so-called "precision bombs" and cruise missiles leveled civilian factories, bridges, hospitals, air-raid shelters and water treatment plants. The civilian death toll from the 1991 war is estimated to be at least 200,000.
And the new generation of "precision weapons" that will be used against Iraq this time have already caused many civilian deaths in the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Iraq is an urban country--and the Pentagon intends to conquer and rule Iraq's cities. At the same time it is clear, from this Pentagon plan, that the war-makers intend to avoid house-to-house combat for urban areas--which is exactly where the Iraqi military is reportedly digging in.
The Pentagon plan calls for encircling and cutting off Baghdad, putting it under intense aerial siege, while the U.S. army waits for government and military resistance to collapse. Baghdad is a city of five million people, the human cost of such a plan would be massive.
And the U.S. could end up fighting for the cities--in an attack that would cause further massive civilian casualties. U.S. marines have been practicing urban warfare in mock cities constructed on military bases around the world.
U.S. Marine specialists have studied Israeli tactics in Jenin, a town destroyed by a notorious Israeli attack--they specifically say they were impressed by the way the Israeli Army used specially loaded tank rounds to blast holes in the walls of civilian homes.
Iraqi People in Harm's Way
President Bush has said that he expects there may be massive deaths among Iraqi civilians.
In a statement to the press, Bush started blaming the Iraqi government for any future casualties. Bush described a scenario where "force is necessary" but Iraqi generals deliberately "behave in a way that endangers the lives of its own citizens."
In other words, as President Bush prepares to launch a war, he prepares ahead of time to blame civilian deaths on Iraq's government and on the civilian victims themselves.
On November 12, a major report on possible civilian casualties was published by Medact, an organization of British health care professionals. The report estimates that the coming war could kill half a million people--overwhelmingly Iraqi civilians. Even in the case of an extremely short war, Medact estimated that 10,000 civilians would die, "more than three times the number who died on September 11."
In a more protracted campaign of weeks and months, the medical experts of Medact estimate as many as 260,000 could die in the conflict itself and its three-month aftermath, with a further 200,000 at risk for death after that from famine and disease. And if a "regime change" in Iraq triggers civil war and attempts at secession, there could be tens of thousands more deaths. The report also includes a "worst-case scenario" in which the U.S. or Israel launches nuclear weapons at Iraq, leaving almost four million people dead.
Plans for an Unjust War
The President of the United States demanded a blank check from the U.S. Congress to launch a war against Iraq. He arm-twisted the United Nations Security Council--until 15 governments shamelessly rubberstamped his threats against Iraq. Now, the leak of U.S. military plans is designed to further strengthen the hand of the U.S. government. The Pentagon wants this plan to divide their adversaries, intimidate their allies, encourage their supporters, and silence their critics. They want to promise an easy victory--to win over those who have been afraid all this might go badly for the U.S. forces.
In addition, it needs to be said that the specific details given out by the Pentagon in these leaks may include disinformation. They may not (for example) be really planning to take western Iraq, but may start the war instead with strikes by airborne troops right into the heart of Baghdad.
However, leaving aside specific operational details, this plan does give the people of the world a new picture of the murderous arrogance coming from the U.S. ruling class. Every part of these leaked war visions reveals an unjust operation of unprovoked aggression.
The U.S. government is sending its forces half-way around the world, in the most calculating and cold-blooded way imaginable, to attack an impoverished and weakened third world country.
These deliberately leaked U.S. military documents brag about the Pentagon's weapons and power. They are filled with bully's logic and swaggering threats from a puffed-up power. But they also desperately seek to hide many truths about this calculated adventure of domination: including its intensely anti-people character, its cold willingness to threaten and kill Iraqi people, its colonialist goals and the global schemes of domination that are motivating this attack.
The U.S. has a plan to attack and occupy Iraq, to exploit and "leverage" victory to dominate still more countries. This plan for an unjust war must be exposed and opposed by the people of the world.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)