War in Iraq: New developments & implications
November 22, 2003
Contributed to Defense and the National Interest by Fabius Maximus, an amateur military historian.
New Developments and implications for the future
The rate and intensity of insurgent operations continues at the highest rate since the invasion. Can they sustain this rate?
New information about the war
The rapid collapse of Saddam Hussein’s government remains a mystery. Many expert observers noted this at the time, such as this column by John Keegan:
Some rumors attribute the Coalition’s rapid victory to bribed Iraq leaders — as in Afghanistan — more than force of arms. www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ED25Ak04.html. If true — or if false but widely believed in Iraq — this might diminish the legitimacy of any Coalition-backed government, much as myths of betrayal in WWI weakened the Weimer Government and aided Hitler’s rise to power.
An interesting analysis of the war appeared in the 11/9 NY Times, by Milt Bearden, 30-year veteran of the CIA Directorate of Operations. It contains some new information, an analysis using the precepts of Sun Tzu, and this conclusion:
If anything Mr. Bearden understates the odds. Since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, few foreign invasions have succeeded against a nation-state. Even if Iraq previously lacked a true national identity, Operation Enduring Freedom might have sparked its creation.
Do you believe the reports of Soviet soldiers dropping booby-trapped toys in Afghanistan? I did. Mr. Bearden has interesting news on this and other important subjects!
Speculation about a wider war
Will the war spread to new theaters, new participants? Will other nations see opportunities to act while the US has a stressed economy, its land forces fully engaged in Iraq, its relations strained with some key allies?
The following article describes only one of several possible flash points, followed by some observations.
From Taiwan News.com
It’s easy to dismiss fears of China-Taiwan war. War would be illogical; China's military forces could not hope to successfully contest the Taiwan Straits against the US Navy.
That is, of course, the same reasoning used by Churchill's advisors when dismissing the fears of Japanese attacks in the Pacific. They were right — war was an illogical act.
China does have some potentially powerful options.
The easy step — declare a maritime exclusion zone around China. Their air and submarine forces make this a credible threat. Shipping rates would rise, putting great stress on Taiwan's economy.
Also they have other weapons. They are a major creditor of the US government. They have considerable influence on the always unpredictable government of North Korea.
What would China do in preparation for such a conflict? Perhaps reduce their holdings of US debt and stockpile commodities. They have done both in recent months.
A brief look at Coalition Progress in Iraq, November 9, 2003
A one month follow-up to my September "posting": October 31, 2003
How well are we doing in Iraq? How well is our opposition doing? September 22, 2003