A Balm for Itchy Trigger Fingers
Disturbing report in the Washington Post on our lack of military readiness to tackle Saddam Hussein. We’re looking at a minimum of six months, and more probably a year or longer before we’ll have all the toys we need. (And before you skip this post, it is not yet another Look-What-Bill-Clinton-Did-to-Our-Armed-Forces lament.)
The story did not indicate whether the 12-month timeframe included deployment — which took six months to get everything in place for Desert Storm in ’90-’91.
However, reporters Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung did say that basing in Saudi could be a problem. If we don’t get permission from the Saudis, there simply is no other border nation that can duplicate their logistic support. From wide open spaces for maneuver, to all the diesel an army could ever desire, Saudi Arabia has it all.
So things are going to get pretty exciting sometime next summer. If the Saudis don’t cooperate on basing like they did n ’90, then we’re going to have to either topple that regime, or put a helluva lot of soldiers into the tiny territory of Kuwait. And bunching up armor like that — we called it a “target-rich environment” when the Soviets did it — is completely against US Army doctrine.
I think Colin Powell is going to stack up some serious frequent flier miles between Washington and Riyadh before August.
UPDATE: I agree with Pat — see the “drink” below — that we should take the Caesar Option with Iraq. You know, “All of Gaul is divided into three parts.”
Give oil-rich Mosul (with Kurdish autonomy) to the Turks, the Shi’ite south to a democratic Iran, and the Sunni center we’ll turn over to the UN for a thorough Marshall Planning.
Here’s why. The Turks are going to take a swift kick to the economic groin helping us in this war. The ’91 Gulf War set them back a decade, and we didn’t do much to help. So, the oil fields of Mosul go to them. They can bootstrap themselves into the 21st Century in a way the Arab oil states either can’t or won’t. Of course, there must be firm protections for the Kurds, along with revenue sharing. Perhaps some sort of federal system.
Assuming we follow my Iran First strategy, we’ll have a friendly-or-at-least neutral Iran to work with. Their reward for democracy will be custody of their Shi’ite brethren in the south of Iraq, the so-called “marsh Arabs.” The best part? Imagine a democratic Iran that also borders Saudi. Would the 7,000 princes shit themselves before or after booking one-way flights to Switzerland?
The Sunni Arab middle of Iraq will start learning Canadian English and Walloon as UN peacekeepers move in, set up a constitution, hold elections, etc. We’ll Marshall Plan them into 2003. Or at least into 1953, which is still a huge step up. At this point, the “government” of Syria will probably have collapsed. Perhaps we should fold that country into Baghdad rump of Iraq(it’s been discussed before), creating a UN-administered Arab democracy from the Tigres to the Mediterranean. The Israelis can handle Beirut and Ramallah — Egypt can wait for another campaign.
Sadly, the Administration is not quite daring enough for this approach.