US MAY ISOLATE BAGHDAD: This may just be fog of war or misinformation. But according to AP:
American forces might stop short of storming Baghdad and instead isolate it while the makings of a new national government are put in place, President Bush’s top military adviser said Thursday.
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated the coming days might bring neither an all-out fight for the city, as many have predicted, nor a conventional siege of the capital.
“When you get to the point where Baghdad is basically isolated, then what is the situation you have in the country?” he said at a Pentagon news conference. “You have a country that Baghdad no longer controls, that whatever’s happening inside Baghdad is almost irrelevant compared to what’s going on in the rest of the country.”
And with communications effectively cut, or at least severely curtailed between Saddam (if he’s still breathing) and the battlefield, one of the (many) real weaknesses of a totalitarian regime its army is revealed, as Steven Den Beste wrote late last year:
This is another area where training and morale come into the picture, with regard to Iraq, because they don’t have either. When a military is cowed by fear, constantly culled by executions, and filtered based on political reliability, which is to say that when the primary mission of a military is to not execute a coup, then it is extremely vulnerable to decapitation. For ten years, demonstrating initiative in the Iraqi military was a one-way ticket to death, and few at any level will make any decision if they can refer to higher authority. This tendency to pull all decisions upward is endemic in all Arab militaries anyway, and it’s going to be at its most extreme in Iraq now. Since everything is centrally controlled, then if that central command is destroyed, or even if it loses communications, then the rest of the army will be essentially useless. The men won’t know what to do, and they’re not used to making decisions for themselves. Even officers at ranks as high as Colonel are not used to actually thinking for themselves. And even if they were, it’s not at all clear that they have any dedication to the cause of defending Iraq or fighting against us. The reality is that most of them hate Saddam as much as we do.
Of course, given the number of media casualties the last announced “pause” created, like I said, it may be just be another ruse.