The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of Us Warfare by James F. Dunnigan
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Dirty Little Secrets
Worst Implications If Iraq is Invaded
by Barnett Lerner
February 10, 2003
Any use of WMD against Israel is likely to be perceived by the Israeli public as an attempt to finish the Holocaust. This seems to have gone unnoticed in the American media, which have spent some time on the subject of restraining Israeli reaction, but don't seem to have considered the psychological landscape.
How would, 1)the Arabs, 2)Europe, 3)America react if Israel, retaliates
for an NBC attack with the only WMD they have; a nuclear weapon?
What about public reaction to a significant WMD strike in Europe? There have been arrests in various countries over the last weeks described as related to just such plans. Would Europeans suddenly decide that America has been right about the threat after all, or would they blame America for causing the attacks?
Modern Europe seems to be waiting for a defining event to set the direction of politics for the next generation. The possibility that European union could coalesce around opposition to America is real. That we might split Britain and a few peripheral countries off is not the point. We could wake up and find the next superpower defining itself in anti-American terms.
Then there's the Arab street. They're real. They can rise. And, if they rise, the whole basis of regional politics and relations with the rest of the world change.
In the days of satellite TV, Al Jazeera, and the Internet, it doesn't take an active campaign by a malevolent Arab leader to cause a popular uprising. The Arab street can be inflamed by other means, largely outside anyone's control.
There are no certainties in any of this. Just huge risks, on various levels.
- Terrorist Attack in America
It's well to assume that such attacks against Americans would
significantly affect American public opinion, as did the events of 9-11.
- Saddam convinces thousands of hard core supporters to fight to the death.
So eminently possible that it ought be taken as a given for planning purposes. If we are not prepared to deal with the aftermath of this state of affairs, someone has been criminally irresponsible.
- Saudi Retaliation by Cutting Oil Production
While there are sound arguments against this, given Saudi economic
problems, they ignore the potential for reaction from the "Arab street". This remains the wild card in the Islamic world. There is a real, if difficult to quantify, possibility that events will so outrage significant parts of the Arab population that they become wildly, irrationally angry and active. If this occurs, otherwise "reasonable" governments will tend to try to violently suppress them, desperately accommodate them, or be overthrown. Any of these eventualities is potential trouble.
- Civil war breaks out
"Civil War" is not a term we may expect to see used. If uprisings occur before the arrival of American forces, they will be described as attempts by Iraqis to rid themselves of Saddam's criminal regime. If they occur at about the time American forces arrive, they'll be described as attempts to aid American forces. If they occur after Hussein is removed by American forces, this sort of thing will be described as "revenge".
- Post-Saddam Unrest
The international media will be looking hard, for this story, even if they have to help create it. Another good reason for Saddam and his sons not to survive the war.
- Palestinian Unrest Turns Against Jordan
This possibility, either from a Palestinian movement against the Hashemite dynasty, directly (as in 1970), or in the aftermath of large scale refugee movements from east of the Jordan because of fighting between the Israelis and Palestinians (as happened in 1948 and 1967), has been hanging over the region for decades. Given the level of fighting already present, and the evolution of feelings on both sides, it would not necessarily take a long escalation to create the conditions for such an event. Potential triggers are various. A general escalation in the already present fighting, a large scale, cross border attack from terrorist groups in Lebanon (who have been widely reported to have literally thousands of Katyusha type rockets), or a WMD attack by Al Qaeda and/or Iraqi cells in the region could trigger a series of events culminating in an overthrow of the Jordanian King by a Palestinian group, which would change the entire basis of the Arab-Israeli dispute. On the one hand, it could lead to the expulsion of Arabs east of the Jordan. On the other hand, it would tend to change the basis of the fight between the Palestinians and Israelis from a question of national liberation to a border dispute.
- The Oilfields
Smart money bets that America will find a way to divert a portion of whatever production occurs to pay some of the bills. This will prove immensely popular with Congress.
- Kurdish-Turkish Fighting
The Turks risk losing all support from both America and Europe. Europe is
looking for an excuse to decide that Turkey has no part in the EU. American support for Turkey has always come from strategic considerations
and is based on a very narrow group of policy makers. There is, essentially, no popular base for a Turkish-American alliance. If the public becomes angry enough at Turkey, leaders will be risking their careers to hold onto an alliance in circumstance where they, themselves, would be angry at the Turks. Turkey could win the battle and find itself without allies in the world, having to totally recast the basis of their international position.
- Iraqi Post-Saddam Resistance Movements
In the medium term, an Islamists based guerilla movement is probably a higher risk than a resurgent Baathist element. Baathism will have been discredited. If Al Qaeda is not clearly broken, it, and groups appealing to the same people in the same terms, will be in a strong position to take advantage of Iraqis unhappy with whatever follows Saddam, associated as it is likely to be with the America in local minds.