August 29, 2002

AUSTIN BAY WRITES that Iraq is no Vietnam, and that fears of an urban-warfare quagmire are overstated:

The Iraqi Army of 2002, including the Republican Guard and special units, is deployed not to defend Iraq but to oppress it. Yes, that means it is deployed to defend Saddam’s ruling cohort. Still, loyalty from even elite units is bought with better bread and Mercedes-Benzes. When someone else — like Washington — offers steaks and Porsches, as well as a chance to remain alive, who’s true to the Butcher of Baghdad? Recall Iraqi troops’ surrender to French photographers in Desert Storm.

Saddam’s regime is brittle. The apt analogy is Nicolae Ceausescu’s vile Romanian dictatorship, a multitiered police state akin to Saddam’s. In late 1989, with the political context of the Cold War suddenly shifting, Ceausescu’s own secret police quickly put him in a grave. U.S. strategy remains directed at provoking a Baghdad coup. Aggressive “war talk” and troop movements promote that optimal result.

Stay tuned.