April 02, 2003

The Likely Death of Saddam Hussein

Gregg Easterbrook picks up on a point made by NPR's Ann Garells:

The New Republic Online: Two-Front War: SADDAM NOTE: Anne Garrells of NPR, one of the two remaining American reporters in Baghdad, noted this morning that Iraqi officials at press events have abandoned the formalistic obsequiousness with which they refer to Saddam. Till this weekend, every other Iraqi comment was Saddam this, our great leader that. Garrells just attended an Iraqi government press conference at which Saddam was never mentioned. To Best-Laid Plans it feels ever more significant that it's been twelve days since the "decapitation" attack and there has been no public image of Saddam speaking about any fact that has become known since then.

The most likely interpretation of this is that Saddam Hussein and his sons are dead. If they are not dead, it is too risky for anyone in the Saddamist elite not to begin with praise of Saddam Hussein. And if they are dead, it is too risky for anyone in the Saddamist elite to begin with praise of Saddam Hussein.

Why, then, hasn't the Iraqi government surrendered? One possibility would be that our decapitation strike was too effective--that since there is no single leader anymore, there is nobody to order the surrender. Why, then, don't individuals break out of Baghdad and surrender, in the hope that he who surrenders first (and brings valuable information with him) will get better treated after the war? Possibly because those who surrender fear that the people in Baghdad will then turn over to the U.S. videos of them torturing children--while if they all stick together, they can all have a big bonfire-of-the-evidence just before the cease-fire.

Nevertheless, if Saddam Hussein and his sons are dead, it is depressing that the regime appears to be holding together so well...

Posted by DeLong at April 2, 2003 10:14 AM | TrackBack

Comments

Hmmm. Perhaps this analysis is too simplistic. Saddam Hussein may be dead, but it is also possible that he is avoiding all further public appearances (i.e., decapitation opportunities) or even trying to give the impression that he is dead in order to avoid further assassination attempts. To make everyone's favorite comparison, der Fuhrer also vanished into his bunker for over two weeks before he shot himself. We probably won't know his real fate until after the ceasefire has been called.

Posted by: andres on April 2, 2003 11:11 AM

~"Why, then, don't individuals ... surrender, in the hope that he who surrenders first (and brings valuable information with him) will get better treated ...? Possibly because those who surrender fear ... videos of them torturing children--while if they all stick together, they can all have a big bonfire-of-the-evidence just before the cease-fire. "~

Economics! Or at least game theory. The prisoner's dilemma, as applied to military strategery.

So, how to change the game and incentivize NOT sticking together? A time-limited amnesty offer?

Posted by: Melcher on April 2, 2003 11:17 AM

John Burns of the NYTimes has also noted a tone of growing desperation among the Iraqi leaders.

Posted by: ran on April 2, 2003 11:37 AM

Interesting. If, and it's a very big if, all three male members of the Hussein familie are now dead, or not in a position to influence matters, I wonder who the Diadochi would be in the upper ranks of the current regime? (freely adapting from Trevor-Roper's model of politics in Nazi Germany, which in turn was taken from Alexander's generals, natch.)

Posted by: Richard Johnston on April 2, 2003 11:48 AM

My guess is that the Iraqis will not stop fighting until the last US troops are off Iraqi soil, Saddam or no Saddam. There will be no surrender. Their armies will take their weapons and blend into the civilian population and carry on as partisans or at least hide them for use at a later time.

If the US were invaded and Bush deposed what would Americans do? I would expect armed resistance. I expect no less from the Iraqis. I also suspect that the US has made plenty of enemies that would like to see Iraq become for the US what Afghanistan was for the Soviets and will do what they can to make sure the US is pinned down in Iraq, including providing aid and arms to the Iraqi resistance.

The US has suffered from bad intelligence in the past. Who said the Iraqis want to be liberated? Who said Iraqis wanted Saddam replaced by the Americans? If Iraqis wanted Saddam gone why did they not do it themselves? Why did they need our help? Maybe the answer is that there is more support for the Iraqi leadership than the American public is led to believe. It would not be the first time that the American public has been misled in times of war.

If the results don't fit the model, question the assumptions.

Posted by: bakho on April 2, 2003 11:49 AM

Interesting. If, and it's a very big if, all three male members of the Hussein familie are now dead, or not in a position to influence matters, I wonder who the Diadochi would be in the upper ranks of the current regime? (freely adapting from Trevor-Roper's model of politics in Nazi Germany, which in turn was taken from Alexander's generals, natch.)

Posted by: Richard Johnston on April 2, 2003 11:52 AM

The leadership should feel desperate: the coalition has just crushed two Republican Guard Divisions and is within 35 miles of Baghdad. There can be no illusion at this point that the coalition is going to be derailed by Fedayeen attacks on its supply lines.

If Saddam and his sons were killed two weeks ago, why would the inner circle have maintained the charade that he was still in command?

On the other hand, if they are still alive, this is the likeliest time for a coup, assuming it was ever a possibility. Saddam and his inner circle have to know that this is the time for loyalties to waver, for second thoughts to bloom. What do they do about it?

Posted by: Jim Harris on April 2, 2003 11:54 AM

Presumably, if Saddam and his sons are dead, the list of people who know it is very short. And everyone on that list is still a prime target for the US. How many of the top leaders in the Iraqi army and security apparatus have hands clean enough that they'd take a chance surrendering?

Melcher, not a time-sensitive amnesty, because when the deadline passes we lose our leverage. How about offering amnesty to the first three people on a short list of 20 or so leaders who step forward? That way the calculus is not "should I surrender before April 15", but "do I need to surrender before Tariq Aziz sells me out?"

Posted by: Ethan on April 2, 2003 11:56 AM

Too much kool-aid for those of you fantasizing that Saddam and his progeny are all dead and/or out of control.

Saddam has zero incentive to poke his head out of the hole he's hiding in until and unless Iraqis start to believe US propoganda.

Posted by: boban on April 2, 2003 12:01 PM

"Who said the Iraqis want to be liberated? Who said Iraqis wanted Saddam replaced by the Americans?"

Are you suggesting that Saddam truly is beloved of his people? Why the need for such an elaborate and brutal security service if Iraqis are not constantly seething.

Note:
Army cheered as it enters Najaf
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A4297-2003Apr1.html


"If Iraqis wanted Saddam gone why did they not do it themselves? Why did they need our help?"

Because the last time they tried, they got waxed.

Posted by: Ethan on April 2, 2003 12:09 PM

The 1993 novel by David Mason, "Shadow over Babylon"

( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/103-8616456-9433447 )

tells of a successful assassination of Saddam by a covert team of Brits. Saddam's thugs continue ruling in his name, occasionaly sending out Saddam lookalikes. Nothing changes.

And truth is stranger, you know.


Posted by: Bob Hawkins on April 2, 2003 12:35 PM

Thank you Ethan.

"Who said Iraqis wanted Saddam replaced by the Americans? If Iraqis wanted Saddam gone why did they not do it themselves? Why did they need our help? "

How cavalier! My guess is that the common Iraqi has had more pressing matters (food, clothing, shelter, secret police) than to organize a coup. I mean, please...they can't exactly have a town meeting on the issue. This is what really pisses me off about those on the left that are anti-war. While I disagree with the process that got us here, Saddam has got to go. Where were the Human Shields etc when Saddam was slaughtering tens of thousands of civilians after Gulf War I? I think the average Iraqi is very devoted to Iraq, not to Saddam.

Posted by: S0C7 on April 2, 2003 12:54 PM

I am not suggesting that Saddam is greatly loved. However, no one stays in power for decades without building a support structure of loyal minions that have a stake in maintaining the status quo. Saddam and other dictators surround themselves with the most loyal supporters and true believers. The others are exiled or eliminated. Certainly there are contingency plans and lines of succession even in a dictatorship. The US survived the incapacitation of President Wilson in spite of no clear procedures for that situation at that time.

If your country is attacked, then citizens will rally behind the leader. Look at George Bush. He lost the popular vote to Al Gore. His popularity was fading fast, his policies were unpopular and then the US was attacked on 9/11. Bush approval ratings soared to 90%. Why should it be that different for Iraq? Why would Iraqis want Americans to invade their country? Why would Iraqis want Americans to govern their country? Would we be happy if the French were put in charge of running the US? Some people (very few) might be happy. Most people would not care a lot if things stayed pretty much the same or did not get worse, but there would be a significant faction that would fight tooth and nail. Why should Iraq be different? Why should Iraqi soldiers and military commanders trust the Americans? If France took over the government of the US by force, would our military commanders surrender or fight on?

The whole situation is very very messy. Winning the peace will be messier than winning the war.

Posted by: bakho on April 2, 2003 12:56 PM

Remind me again, who was responsible for taking this target of opportunity to begin this war? Some guy who was going to receive a silk rope, or find himself with cement overshoes, or doing a lot of fly fishing, I think it was.

Which brings up the question of how we managed to just destroy two Republican Guard divisions, and march to within 20 miles of Baghdad...without enough heavy armor or infantry on hand to do that. Which guy was responsible for that?

Oh, here's a report the Usual Fieldmarshalls may find interesting:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/02/international/worldspecial/02CND-AIRB.html

-------quote---------
Cheers and Smiles for U.S. Troops in a Captured City
By JIM DWYER


AJAF, Iraq, April 2 — Hundreds of American troops marched into town at midday today and were greeted by its residents.

[snip]

People rushed to greet them today, crying out repeatedly, "Thank you, this is beautiful!"

Two questions dominated a crowd that gathered outside a former ammunition center for the Baath Party. "Will you stay?" asked Kase, a civil engineer who would not give his last name. Another man, Heider, said, "Can you tell me what time Saddam is finished?"

--------endquote-------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on April 2, 2003 01:06 PM

bahko - you did suggest..."If Iraqis wanted Saddam gone why did they not do it themselves? Why did they need our help?"

Which further suggests you prefer a hands-off approach...yes? Support for Bush after 9/11 is one thing...support in the voting booth in 2004 is another. That is why the analogy is off. Worst case for us, Bush for 8 years, (and possibly economic disaster for many years)
Heck, I supported Bush on 9/12, I was as happy as anyone to see him stand on the Yankee Stadium pitcher's mound and look like he'd thrown a baseball before, but that support is over and I can vote to prove it.

I do agree that establishing a democracy will not be a stroll on the sunny side of the street. But I have more faith in the Iraqi population being able to pull it off than the Afghan population.

Posted by: S0c7 on April 2, 2003 01:14 PM

What incentive does Saddam have to stick his head out? Well, if you're going to run a Cult of Personality, it sure helps to be visible, sheesh! But the point is that there are now other signs-- besides the Osama-like behavior of a known camera hog suddenly getting shy-- that he's dead or incapacitated. I am less surprised that the regime is still holding together-- you have everything to gain and nothing to lose but a few divisions by being the successor who comes out on top among your fellow psychopaths, makes the deal to surrender and gets to be Iraq's Musharraf, the kindler gentler autocrat. (I don't believe that's a real scenario-- though there are plainly those in govt who would go for it-- but I'd probably believe it was a chance worth taking over death or imprisonment if I was an Iraqi general.)

Posted by: Mike G on April 2, 2003 01:40 PM

Here's a story about Saddam's death and who's been running things since that I wouldn't put much credence in, except that nothing in it has been falsified in the nine days since it was published, so maybe it's risen to at least the level of entertaining speculation:

http://www.acsa2000.net/Baghdad/

Also, the "Fort Saddam" mentioned in it is verified by other sources, including 60 Minutes...

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/02/21/60minutes/main541565.shtml?cmp=EM8707

... and the NY Sun had a story yesterday in which the German engineers who built it said it was indeed designed to withstand a Hiroshima-level nuclear blast. (Germans -- the world's experts on bunkers!)

These sources agree that it's the most likely location of the missing VX nerve gas and all.

FWIW.

The weather reports I've seen say it's heading up to 100+degrees in Baghdad soon. I hope the guys aren't going to have to do building-to-building street fighting in that weather wearing chemical suits.

Posted by: Jim Glass on April 2, 2003 01:43 PM

Patrick, we are still avoiding the toughest jobs. It's no big deal to kill Iraqis out in the open. Here's what the Russians think will happen when we enter the cities that are not Shiite.

http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20030401-024727-1436r

As to the question at hand; where are all the Saddam look a likes that we've been hearing about for years?

Regardless of whether or not Saddam is dead it is surprising that at least a look a like has not made an appearance on Iraqi media.

The fact that one has not suggests that the reason we have not heard from Saddam is that the US is controlling the airwaves and spreading doubt as to Saddam's existance as part of a psyops operation.

If so, then Saddam may be trying to communicate, but is blocked. Then again, he is probably avoiding communication because transmissions can be pinpointed.

At any rate, I'd put my money on Saddam & sons alive in a very deep bunker. The Saudis seem to agree to the extent that they are renewing negotiations in favor of Saddam having the option to surrender to exile.

Posted by: E.A. on April 2, 2003 01:47 PM

"~If Iraqis wanted Saddam gone why did they not do it themselves? Why did they need our help? "~

No 2nd amendment?

'~ Melcher, not a time-sensitive amnesty, because when the deadline passes we lose our leverage. How about offering amnesty to the first three people on a short list of 20 or so leaders who step forward?'~

I like it.

'~Which brings up the question of how we managed to just destroy two Republican Guard divisions, and march to within 20 miles of Baghdad...without enough heavy armor or infantry on hand to do that. Which guy was responsible for that?'~

Oh Patrick. There you go again. Silly errors that destroy your own credibility faster than a Tomahawk missile busts a bunker.

NOBODY "marches" anymore. Automotive vehicles have been around, oh, a century or so now, right?

Jeeze, can't you ever post something without leaving some nit hanging out there for your critics to pick at?

Posted by: Melcher on April 2, 2003 01:48 PM

It's a little off topic, but I was somewhat disillusioned with Easterbrook when I came across a an authoritatively stated falsehood in a recent column. Here's an email I sent to him a few days ago (still unanswered):

---begin email------
Dear Mr. Easterbrook,

I have appreciated your "Best Laid Plans" series, particularly your
authoritative discussion of military strategy which I, like many
academics, know extremely little about. Your writing style has all the
hallmarks of someone simply trying to communicate the truth, and it was
appreciated.

Until I came across your throw-away comment on depleted uranium being
"non-radioactive." I am a physicist, and I know there is no reasonable
way that depleted uranium can be described this way: it's about half as
radioactive as natural uranium, both of which are low radioactivity
sources compared to enriched uranium ... but I assume you knew all this.

So why say something that's not true?

Not only is depleted uranium not non-radioactive, it appears that its
radioactivity was the main reason it was chosen over tungsten, for
political purposes rather than a performance advantage. See, for example,

http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0301059

Sincerely,
Ben Vollmayr-Lee
---end email---------

Clarification of the "political purposes": in short, to de-sensitize the issue of having radioactive materials in combat situations, essentially trying to smooth the route of low-yield nukes into the arsenal.

Posted by: Ben Vollmayr-Lee on April 2, 2003 02:04 PM

"Why, then, hasn't the Iraqi government surrendered? One possibility would be that our decapitation strike was too effective--that since there is no single leader anymore, there is nobody to order the surrender. Why, then, don't individuals break out of Baghdad and surrender, in the hope that he who surrenders first (and brings valuable information with him) will get better treated after the war?"

They don't, because they don't really have an *incentive* to do so. They *won't* be treated better, after the war. At least not the grunts. All they get for surrendering is that they (maybe) don't get shot.

That's why it's time for the Mother-Of-All Economics-Triumphs, the brilliant "Rent-A-Coup" plan.

Offer all remaining soldiers and low-ranking officers (below the rank of general) a cash bonus for surrendering. $500 for everyone at or below the rank of sargent, $1000 for everyone at or below the rank of major, $5000 for everyone at or below the rank of colonel. (Or whatever economists determine is the lowest offer that won't be refused.)

When faced with the choices of:

1) Fighting to the death, or surrendering for no money at all, or

2) Surrendering without a fight, and receiving cash...

...Option #2 will look ver-r-ry good.

Then, when giving each soldier and lower officer the cash for surrendering, we can photograph, fingerprint, and get DNA samples from each. If they *were* involved in war crimes, such information will be extremely helpful in tracking them down.

Stop using brute force, and use simply economics. Economics almost always works better. :-)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 2, 2003 02:13 PM

"Russian military analysts are advising the Iraqi military command against excessive optimism..."

Gotta hand it to them Russians!

Although considering all the military skill and expertise that the Russians have demonstrated lately, from Chechnya to the Kursk to freeing theater hostages, just having them as advisors would be enough to cure my optimism.

Posted by: Jim Glass on April 2, 2003 02:15 PM

"Melcher, not a time-sensitive amnesty, because when the deadline passes we lose our leverage. How about offering amnesty to the first three people on a short list of 20 or so leaders who step forward?'"

"I like it."

No, that risks giving amnesty to monsters. Instead, cut the body away from them, by buying off all their soldiers. (And photographing, fingerprinting, and getting DNA samples for all those who take the money...so they can later be prosecuted, if they did something wrong.) See previously posted details on Rent-a-Coup.

Rent-a-Coup has the benefits of:

1) Not rewarding any higher-ups that may be monsters,

2) Putting a little dough in the pockets of the average Iraqi soldiers, so they will think well of us, and pass along those good thoughts to their countrymen,

3) Boost the economy of Iraq, if only slightly,

4) Result in virtually no civilian loss of life,

5) Greatly reduce the chances of harm of U.S. soldiers,

6) Encourage further help of the U.S. in post-war Iraq,

etc. etc. etc.

Rent-a-Coup is win, win, win, win, win.

All we need is Dr. DeLong to call his contacts in the Bush Adminstration. ;-)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 2, 2003 02:23 PM

Gee, I see a lot of chickens being counted before they are hatched, here. Are these divisions as throughly destroyed as that one had throughly surrendered?

Other notes:

-Iraq civilians are gun nuts. If you are unaware of that then you have no business commenting on the situation at all.

-Yeah, rent-a-coup will work really well. Just like all that money we threw at Turkey bought them big time. There is a theory that the chickenhawks expected the Iraqi to surrender in front of superior forces because that' what the chickenhawks would do. Now we can add to that the theory of people who believe in money above all else think that the Iraqi can be bought off because that's what those people would do. No wonder you guys are continually surprised by the behavior of actual human beings.

-Ben Vollmar-Lee, I hate to tell you but Easterbrook is a bitter man since Bjorn whatshisface stole the "Skeptical Environmentalist" crown off him just as he was ascending the throne. "Non-radioactive" was no accident and you will get no satisfaction from any of his replies, if he replies at all. Maybe he'll settle for a title of "Sir Apologist" or something.

Posted by: a different chris on April 2, 2003 02:48 PM

Saddam is brutal and repressive, no doubt. Sanctions and 10 years of bombing on a daily basis have not been good for the Iraqi people and a more permanent settlement is definately desireable. So yes, I am in favor of Saddam out of power, but I have a lot of apprehension about the manner that it is being done.

A war and an invasion carries its own baggage and creates its own set of problems. Occupation is not an easy task- ask the Israelis. I do question whether or not war was the only way or even the best way to bring about a more democratic Iraq. There were other options that were not explored in the rush to go to war. I especially question the wisdom of going to war with Iraq without the support of the international community. Sure we can fight and win a war by ourselves, but winning the peace would be a lot easier with Arab allies to help with the rebuilding and post Saddam governing. There is also the question of who's next. Already we are hearing rumblings about halting Iranian nuke program, dealing with Syria, etc. Is Iraq to be a staging area for further adventurism in Asia? However, when you squander all your international goodwill, cooperative solutions to international problems vanish as viable options and war or intimidation becomes the only solution.

Posted by: bakho on April 2, 2003 02:51 PM

"No 2nd amendment?"

Media reports indicated that nearly every household in Iraq has at least one firearm. In fact, I've seen earnest puzzlement from the libertarian-NRA axis on a mailing list I read that such a fact wasn't sufficient to cause the overthrow of the tyrant.

[+troll]Clearly, the well-regulated Iraqi milita has plenty of arms...[-troll]

"As to the question at hand; where are all the Saddam look a likes that we've been hearing about for years?"

Las Vegas?

Posted by: Peter MacLeod on April 2, 2003 02:53 PM

"Yeah, rent-a-coup will work really well. Just like all that money we threw at Turkey bought them big time."

We weren't giving the money straight to the members of the Turkish military! We were giving it to the Turkish *government*! Huge difference.

This is money delivered straight to Iraqi soldiers...NOT to the Iraqi government.

"Now we can add to that the theory of people who believe in money above all else think that the Iraqi can be bought off because that's what those people would do."

And what would YOU do? You have the options of:

1) Fighting to the death,

2) Surrending for absolutely zero money,

3) Or surrendering for a year's pay.

If you say "#1" or "#2"...you're just saying so because YOU aren't the one making that life-or-death choice.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 2, 2003 02:58 PM

"...but winning the peace would be a lot easier with Arab allies to help with the rebuilding and post Saddam governing."

It would be a HUGE mistake to let our Arab "allies" "help" with the post-Saddam governing.

Not even one of our Arab "allies" is a liberal democracy.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 2, 2003 03:04 PM

If this continues - http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=393127 - then Iraqis will fight the US indefinitely regardless of Saddam's status.

Posted by: E.A. on April 2, 2003 03:06 PM

E.A. Make that Iraqis and zealots throughout the Arab world that object to an infidel Christian Crusade invading the holy Arabian Penninsula. Disarming Iraqis may prove more difficult than ousting Saddam.

In part, Iraqis did not rise up against Saddam for fear of failure. How much will they fear the Americans? How will American workers be protected? Will we hire Saddam's secret police to work for us instead? Most likely American companies will hire Indians or other Muslim workers to do the actual rebuilding. How will American soldiers be protected? Remember the Cole, the Khobar Towers and the Beirut airport. It is great that there are some cities where the population is welcoming our troops. That makes the job easier. In much of southern Iraq, however, the people are hurling insults and throwing rocks. That makes things more difficult. I feel sorry for the troops that will have to keep the lid on Iraq for the next decade.

Posted by: bakho on April 2, 2003 03:24 PM

"In much of southern Iraq, however, the people are hurling insults and throwing rocks."

And your source for this information is...?

"I feel sorry for the troops that will have to keep the lid on Iraq for the next decade."

I doubt U.S. troops will be in Iraq a decade from now.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 2, 2003 03:33 PM

What's more important for toxicity of depleted uranium---it's radioactivity, or the fact it's a heavy metal (those tend to be pretty toxic because of their *chemical* properties)?

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on April 2, 2003 03:34 PM

"I was somewhat disillusioned with Easterbrook when I came across an authoritatively stated falsehood in a recent column. Here's an email I sent to him a few days ago (still unanswered): ... I came across your throw-away comment on depleted uranium being "non-radioactive." I am a physicist, and I know there is no reasonable way that depleted uranium can be described this way ... Not only is depleted uranium not non-radioactive, it appears that its radioactivity was the main reason it was chosen over tungsten, for political purposes rather than a performance advantage..."

It seems to me rather odd to claim that an "an authoritatively stated falsehood" was made in what one says was a "throw-away comment". Are throw-away comments authoritative statements?

Anyway, in Easterbrook's defense:

First, while depleted uranium technically is radioactive in the parlance of the physicist, it's level of radioactivity is so low that it is actually used as radiation shielding in preference over lead. It is also used routinely in sail boat keels and many other consumer applications -- it was used in dental porcelain until about 1980, so some readers of this may have it in their teeth.

Medically, even normal uranium is categorized as having no radiological risk (see the Agency for Toxic Substances Registry) and depleted uranium is depleted radiologically 50% below there. The only known health risk for DP is the same as with lead -- if eaten it is toxic in much the way lead is. http://www.arps.org.au/DU.htm

To the audience of average people for whom Easterbrook writes, something that has zero radiological risk and which is routinely used in sailboats and dental porcelain and such is nonradioactive. In fact, to that audience "radioactive" means there *is* a radiological risk --
so for him to describe DP as such would seriously mislead them regarding that.

So perhaps we can forgive him for using the word as he did in a "throw away line", in the sense of his readers, not the physicist. [Just as I, as a lawyer, constantly forgive lay persons who ceaselessly misuse the word "equity" ;-) ]

Second, to claim that a material that has zero radiological risk, and which actually is used as radiation shielding as well as in sail boat keels, dental porcelain, etc., is used in tank-killing weapons for the calculated *political* purpose of easing the introduction of nuclear weapons to the battlefield seems, well, rather much of a political stretch itself.

(Especially when your own paper there admits right up front that DP has been the at least marginally superior material for the purpose to date. Most militaries don't like to arm themselves with marginally inferior weapons.)

Posted by: Jim Glass on April 2, 2003 03:41 PM

http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/04/02/sprj.irq.iraq.torture/index.html

"The man also said a citizen who committed a crime could avoid being tortured by putting up cash -- about $1,600 for stealing, and almost twice that for murder, according to the BBC reporter."

Hmmmm...now, who was saying that representatives of Saddam Hussein's military wouldn't accept offers of money to surrender? :-)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 2, 2003 04:44 PM

"I doubt U.S. troops will be in Iraq a decade from now."

Jeez, Mark what's the problem, as long as we are willing to pay them enough?

Mark continues to amaze me with his confidence that Iraqis would line up to sell out their country to a foriegn power for money.

Posted by: rea on April 2, 2003 04:47 PM

"Jeez, Mark what's the problem, as long as we are willing to pay them enough?"

Pay who? Iraqis? U.S. soldiers?

The problems with having U.S. soldiers in Iraq a decade from now are the same problems with having U.S. soldiers in Saudi Arabia right now:

1) It's completely unnecessary for the national defense of the United States,

2) It actually *harms* the national defense of the United States, by giving Islamic nuts (which is just about everyone in Saudi Arabia...not to mention millions in Pakistan and Egypt) a griping point, about U.S. troops Middle East, and

3) It's needlessly expensive, both in money and lives.

"Mark continues to amaze me with his confidence that Iraqis would line up to sell out their country to a foriegn power for money."

As opposed to Saddam Hussein? An unelected, brutal dictator, who has stolen literally billions of dollars from his people?

As literally millions of Iraqis have already learned, their country isn't being invaded...so there's no need for defense:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0403/p01s01-woiq.html

"SOUTH OF BAGHDAD – The 19-year-old Iraqi war prisoner shook and cried as he was led into a US medical tent at a dusty camp. But it wasn't because he had a gunshot wound in his right leg."

"He thought we were going to execute him," says Sgt. Mark McLaurin of the 3rd Infantry Division's 566th Medical Support Company. By the next day, the boy was saying, "Thanks," and calling Sergeant McLaurin "Doc."

"The young prisoner, like many captured Iraqis here, said he had been forced to fight by Saddam Hussein loyalists who made death threats against his family."

Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 2, 2003 05:01 PM

"Mark continues to amaze me with his confidence that Iraqis would line up to sell out their country to a foriegn power for money."

And by the way, YOU have never answered my question...what would YOU do:

1) Fight to the death,

2) Surrender, and get nothing, or

3) Surrender, and get paid a year's salary?

How about it? What would *your* choice be?

Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 2, 2003 05:05 PM

Who would have ever dreamed of fighting a dead dictator ? You know who.


The Penguin Complete Novels of George Orwell page 893
Winston Smith asks O’Brien answers
‘Does Big Brother exist ?’
‘Of course he exists. The Party exists. Big Brother is the embodiment of the Party.’
‘Does he exist in the same way as I exist ?’
‘You do not exist,’ said O’Brien.
[8 lines deleted]
no other solid object can occupy the same point simultaneously. In that sense does big brother exist ?’
‘It is of no importance. He exists.’
‘Will Big Brother ever die ?’
‘Of course not. How could he die ? Next question.’


So what would be worse: Saddam Hussein still alive, or the Ba’ath party deciding to keep him alive after his death ?

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on April 2, 2003 05:05 PM

Ahh! I see. A dead dictator can't kill you, after all, if you're one of his henchmen...

Nice piece about the "secret" base of the 173rd, by the way...


Brad

Posted by: Brad DeLong on April 2, 2003 06:06 PM

'It seems to me rather odd to claim that an "an authoritatively stated falsehood" was made in what one says was a "throw-away comment". Are throw-away comments authoritative statements?'

It shouldn't seem odd. It was a throw-away comment because it had little to do with his discussion. It was made authoritatively since he was writing in the voice of explaining facts to a presumably unknowledgeable readership, and he didn't put in any qualifiers.

Regarding the rest of your comment, in one sense I agree: the hazard of low-level radiation has been over-estimated (though we might disagree as to why this has happened). But your arguments fall short of addressing the radiation risk in combat with a DU-shielded tank. In addition to the radioactivity level, one needs to know the amount of source and the proximity and duration of the exposure. Let's put it this way: there are a lot of uranium miners who wish normal uranium was as harmless as you think it is.

Posted by: Ben Vollmayr-Lee on April 2, 2003 06:32 PM

Someone mentioned the Second Amendment. It's been lost in the shuffle, but apparently private ownership of guns is widespread in Iraq, as in most of the Middle East. Either Saddam's not a dictator, or the 2nd Amendment doesn't work the way we've been told it does.

Posted by: zizka on April 2, 2003 07:27 PM

Pete McCloskey has written a magnificent letter about the slaughter in Iraq. It was sent to me by my brother from the UU church mailing list. I suspect it reflects the opinions of many of us of McCloskey's generation who served in the military. (My brother was a helicopter pilot, I was a deck officer.) I enclose a few quotes that might provide some pause to at least some of the armchair warriors:

"Whatever may be our disagreement with the President's decision to abandon the U.N. Security Council deliberations and go to war nine days ago,each of us now needs to give our wholehearted support to the individual U.S.soldiers, Marines and airmen presently carrying out the President's orders in Iraq which were duly authorized by Congress.

That support, however, does not require the silencing of criticism of
the policies which have brought us to our current circumstances, nor
discussion of the decisions our country faces in the future."

... "There is no need for us to demonize the Iraqi soldiers who, against the
enormous firepower of cruise missiles and B-52 carpet bombing, choose to
fight in their own country against a powerful invading army from 10,000
miles away.

There's something unseemly about well-dressed generals and smiling television commentators mourning each American casualty while gloating
over the hundreds or thousands of Iraqi soldiers killed by our missiles and bombs. This is not a war among equals; it is a slaughter.

There is no foxhole capable of protecting a man against a precision-guided cruise missile or the incredibly-devastating concussions of a string of one-ton monster bombs dropped by B-52s from
30,000 feet."

..."The President's use of the word "relentless" with respect to our bombing campaign is as offensive to Arabs and Muslims outside Iraq as was his characterization some months ago of Ariel Sharon, the butcher of Sabra and Shatilla, as a "man of peace." ... The word "terror" deserves re-examination. Terror is not just a word to describe the tactics of Osama bin Laden on 9/11. The terror of people relentlessly bombed by a superpower clearly capable of crushing them is as real as that suffered by the victims of 9/11."

...But who cannot also respect the hopelessly outgunned Iraqi soldiers who are doomed to death, or worse, being horribly maimed for life, by U.S.
weapons against which they are virtually defenseless. It's their
country, not ours. They may hate their leader but I suspect they will hate foreign invaders with even greater intensity. They will fight in the streets of villages and cities, because that is the terrain best suited for them to have a chance in one-on-one infantry combat. To save American lives, our infantryman will need close air support in Baghdad. Do we destroy Baghdad like Ben Suc in order to save it?"

Back to me again. We seem to be discussing strategy when in this invasion, almost any strqategy will work because of our overwhelming power. Is there anyone out there that is sufficiently prescient to explain why killing thousands of people in this time and place is worth it?

If you want McCloskey's entire letter which is very much worth reading, you can probably find it on Google, or if not, drop me an e-mail and I'll forward it to you.

Sam Taylor

Posted by: Sam Taylor on April 2, 2003 07:28 PM

Mark said:
"I doubt U.S. troops will be in Iraq a decade from now."

uhm...
US troops are still in Korea (~52 yrs)
US troops are still in Germany (~60 yrs)
US troops are still in Japan (~60 yrs)
US troops are still in Phillipeans (~100 yrs), oops, no, they finally threw us out; oops, no, we're back...
Vietnam, no US troops, we lost. Where else? Are US troops still in Panama? Grenada? Haiti? I don't know, really... but it seems the bulk of the evidence is against your assertion. But you could probably pay people to avoid pointing that out.

tjallen

Posted by: tjallen on April 2, 2003 08:09 PM

Ok Mark, I apologise for my last line, which was a cheap shot. But it was so much fun to say, after all your comments about rent-a-coup! Have a chuckle at yourself, don't be mad at me. I do actually read your posts, rather than just skipping them, like I do to some others here.

tjallen

Posted by: tjallen on April 2, 2003 08:17 PM

'NOBODY "marches" anymore. Automotive vehicles have been around, oh, a century or so now, right?'

This is a classic mistake, on a par with disconinuing bayonets because they are obsolete. (That one gets made every generation or so, then reversed in a hurry.) The marching mistake was made by the Argentinian generals in the Falklands War, assuming that the British wouldn't be able to reach them overland. Do a search on "Falklands" and "yomp".

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on April 2, 2003 10:06 PM

For another take on Saddam's current whereabouts,

http://www.albawaba.com/news/index.php3?sid=246146&lang=e&dir=news

Al Bawaba
Exclusive: Sources in Baghdad indicate Saddam alive, hidden, and in command
03-04-2003, 11:19

A number of reliable sources inside Baghdad report that two days before the start of the war Saddam disappeared into a hidden command center, in a location unknown even to his ministers. Since then, sources say that Saddam has not met in person with his top ministers, and has not talked to them directly by telephone. His instruction are delivered to them by messengers in writing or in video and audio cassettes. Saddam does not use the telephone or fax, which he believes can be intercepted or tracked by the Americans.

According to the sources, Saddam Hussein's second son, Qusai is believed to be the only person to know exactly where the Iraqi leader is staying.

Saddam's own appearances on television are all recordings that were made before the war started, and he has not made any new television appearances since he went into underground. Workers at the Iraqi Television spoke of a vault inside the Information Ministry with hundreds of recordings, each enscribed only with two letters and a number. It is said that Saddam decides which of the tapes to air on television by a short note indicating the code of the appropriate cassette. Three different taped recordings for when the Americans are about to enter Baghdad are already waiting at the television, they added, delivered on Tuesday this week.

Picking up clues from another man wanted dead by the Americans, Bin Ladin, Saddam has learned, according to experts, that Americans analyze the background and even the air clarity of the videos for clues to the location where it was taken, so he has pre-recorded his most important messages and instructions to the Iraqi people. He has also seen that they can identify where a phone call originated from by the background noise, and this has lead to his decision to avoid making live radio broadcasts to his people. Saddam assumes that if the Americans hear him broadcasting, a guided missile will be quick to arrive.

Posted by: Ethan on April 3, 2003 05:32 AM

Taking Mark's question seriously:

Why do you need #3? Between #1 Fighting to the Death (in a hopeless cause) and #2 Surrendering for free (and living the rest of your natural life surrounded by fellow surrenderers), that's a no-brainer.

The key isn't suspecting Iraqis of cowardice; it's suspecting them of rationality. What benefit is there to fighting to the death? Excellent war widow pension from the Hussein regime? Knowing that you died for a cause you believe in (saving Saddam's hide, not your own)?

Of course, the flaw in that is that we're not seeing mass surrenders, so we need some other factor. Which someone raised way at the top, suggesting basic, land-based patriotism.

As for SH's cult of personality, remember how beloved Stalin was by those who survived his purges. Like that of an abused wife, the psychology of an oppressed people is complex and contradictory. It took 3 years for Kruschev to be able to criticize Stalin in a secret Politburo session; how long will it take Iraqis to get past the last 25 years of SH rule?

Posted by: JRoth on April 3, 2003 07:40 AM

Most Iraqi army soldiers, even Republican Guards, are serving in units which are far from their actual homes. Not as far as ours, of course, but they probably aren't allowed, or even able, to make contact with relatives. They are also being threatened with their deaths, and the deaths of loved ones, if they surrender. They are being told that they are winning - they may not believe it, but can they depend on it being absolutely false? Can they assume that their relatives are safe? If it were your parents, wife, and children, would you risk surrendering yourself?

As to Hussein - the alternative view shown in the Al Bawaba article is precisely how the regime would describe the situation if they were trying to conceal the death of a dictator.

Posted by: rvmann on April 3, 2003 08:09 AM

Nevertheless, if Saddam Hussein and his sons are dead, it is depressing that the regime appears to be holding together so well...

This this only slightly more or less depressing than that the bush regime is holding together so well.

Now that I think about it, only Hati was glad to be invaded by us and no bombs were dropped there. Hm.

Posted by: Ginger Mayerson on April 3, 2003 08:38 AM

Andres, Ethan, Saddam has a rats nest of bunkers running under the streets of Bagdad. He could easily make a tape with evidence of current events and then abandon that specific bunker location days before having it aired. The fact that he hasn't done this simple act contributes greatly to the "disinformation" campaign about his possible demise. The negative effects this has on his position are very large. It greatly increases the willingness of his opponents to openly rebel. Since he has not done this simple act to confirm his health and protect his position, the accounts you've both provided are not very believable.

On the contrary, with the number of atrocities committed by this regime during its period of rule, individuals affiliated with it should have very grave concerns about potential post-war reprisals from non-affiliated Iraqis. Even mid- to lower-level regime officials would have to be worried about their future treatment by other Iraqis. A BBC report detailing an alledged torture chamber yesterday was also alledging this type of deep animosity towards the regime. Concerns about that animosity should be enough to keep many of the regime's core members working against the coalition regardless of Saddam's current state of health. In that way Saddam's existence would probably be more important for cowing regime opponents than for enlisting ongoing support.

Mark, your paid amnesty program would only work for individuals who have no fear of reprisals from the rest of the civilian population following the war. Otherwise they would have to calculate that it was enough money to "get out of Dodge." For most of the people who do not fear reprisals, removing the threat of Baath Party retaliation should be enough to induce their capitulation. Life is a pretty high reward.

Posted by: Stan on April 3, 2003 08:42 AM

"Taking Mark's question seriously:..."

You'd be one of the first people to do so...or at least to do so, honestly. (The fact that none of the critics of my Rent-a-Coup have yet selected a choice among those available to the Republican Guard is evidence, in my opinion, of their lack of honesty in their criticisms.)

"Why do you need #3? Between #1 Fighting to the Death (in a hopeless cause) and #2 Surrendering for free (and living the rest of your natural life surrounded by fellow surrenderers), that's a no-brainer."

Yes, I would also pick #2 over #1, if I were in the Republican Guard. But wouldn't you also say that taking #3 over #2 is a no-brainer? Isn't surrendering and receiving a year's pay, better than surrendering and getting nothing?

But your question was, do we "need" option #3?
No, obviously, we don't "need" it...because it's almost certainly not going to happen. (Unless Brad DeLong has already contacted his high-ranking friends in the federal government. ;-))

But Option #3 is a far, far superior option to #2, for all of the reasons I mentioned before:

1) Having #3 available greatly increases the likelihood of Iraqi soldiers not choosing Option #1,

2) Puts some money in their pockets, so they feel good about the U.S., and will tell their fellow citizens so,

3) Greatly reduces the chances of Iraqi civilian casualties, and U.S. troop casualties,

etc.

"Of course, the flaw in that is that we're not seeing mass surrenders, so we need some other factor. Which someone raised way at the top, suggesting basic, land-based patriotism."

No, that neglects the more obvious explanation: In the military, you obey your superior officers, or someone shoots you...either those officers, or someone under command of those officers. Plus, the higher up people are in Saddam's military, the more those people have to lose, if Saddam falls. Especially generals and colonels, who may later be prosecuted/killed for various war crimes.

That's why Rent-a-Coup is superior. It separates the soldiers and low-ranking officers from the elite (e.g., the generals). The soldiers and low-ranking officers have a huge incentive (a year's salary, or whatever) to take the risk involved in disobeying the order to continue to fight.

"It took 3 years for Kruschev to be able to criticize Stalin in a secret Politburo session; how long will it take Iraqis to get past the last 25 years of SH rule?"

Essentially no time, it appears. I saw an interview yesterday of an Iraqi guy who knew about the torture chamber they found. That guy (who insisted on being filmed from the back ;-)) said, if Saddam Hussein came around, he'd cut Hussein into 50 pieces.

The big difference between Hussein and Stalin is that Stalin had an ideology he was (allegedly) following. Take from the rich, and give to the poor, and all that. Saddam Hussein can't really claim any ideology, since he's attacked Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 3, 2003 09:05 AM

"Mark, your paid amnesty program would only work for individuals who have no fear of reprisals from the rest of the civilian population following the war."

Yes, I would even go as far as to open up the POSSIBILITY of the very highest-ranked officers who surrender--which would be colonels, since I wouldn't give the offer to generals--of asylum in another country. But, the offer would have to clearly state that it was dependent on absolutely no involvement in any previous crimes (such as the chemical attacks on Kurds). If such behavior was alleged, the suspect would be extradited back to Iraq. Likewise, the offer would be limited to some relatively small number of people (say, less than 1000 officers, with their immediate families).

That said, I really don't think that those who surrender will have huge problems in the post-Saddam Iraq. I think it will be the *supporters* of Saddam--those who continue to fight--that will have the bigger problem.

For example, "Chemical Ali" apparently has had his house in southern Iraq completely stripped. Everything has been taken, down to faucet fixtures. I think *he* will have more problems in post-Saddam Iraq than, for example, the general who immediately surrendered his whole division, in the first days of fighting.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 3, 2003 09:22 AM

Mark, the problem with your amnesty program is that it addresses the wrong problem. There are already enough good reasons for anyone to defect that money won't make a difference. Iraqi officers can already calculate that defection would prevent getting shot or blown up on the battlefield. They can also figure that defection would improve their odds of favorable treatment in war crimes proceedings after the war. That alone should be enough of a benefit that anyone who could be bought would already have defected.

So why haven't they? Presumably because they have other pressures to fight which they are feeling much more acutely, such as direct threats to them and their families (who may live in Baghdad, Tikrit, or other regime-controlled cities), their own participation in war crimes, or nationalist desires to fight the invaders. A wad of cash is not going to do a lot to alleviate those pressures. "Rent-a-coup" is thus not well-tailored to the incentives facing Iraqi officers.

Posted by: Ethan on April 3, 2003 09:51 AM

"Mark, the problem with your amnesty program is that it addresses the wrong problem."

Well, first off, it's not an "amnesty" program at all. I totally reject the idea of letting anyone get away with crimes, no matter how far in the past they were committed.

This is a payment progam, to get the Iraqi troops to ignore their generals' commands to keep fighting. It's "Buy a Surrender" or "Rent a Coup." There's no amnesty offer.

"There are already enough good reasons for anyone to defect that money won't make a difference."

This is completely contradicted by the fact that the Iraqi Republican Guard troops are NOT surrendering. And "defect" is a mischaracterization of my plan. There's no amnesty or defection. It's paying the remaining Iraqi Republican Guard to put down their weapons, and refuse to fight.

"Iraqi officers can already calculate that defection would prevent getting shot or blown up on the battlefield. They can also figure that defection would improve their odds of favorable treatment in war crimes proceedings after the war."

Again, you're simply not understanding my proposal. It's an offer of money to ALL soldiers and lower-ranked officers, to disobey their generals, and surrender to U.S. troops, for cash rewards. And my plan has absolutely NO release from potential future prosecution for war crimes.

It's paying the fighting grunts to refuse to obey their generals' orders, and having the grunts stop fighting. Nothing more.


Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 3, 2003 10:17 AM

I just want to comment on all the "where were the leftists when...." posts.

The leftists, as you call them, have been protesting the war against Iraq for years. I personally went to many protests on the Iraq sanctions issue.

Leftists were busy trying to get the word out about the cruelty of the sanctions and the continuing conflict since the first gulf war. No one was paying attention; the country was too busy plotting to retire at 35.

Of course, now its our fault for not having been loud enough for the oblivious rightwingers to hear.

Posted by: biz on April 3, 2003 10:21 AM

"Nevertheless, if Saddam Hussein and his sons are dead, it is depressing that the regime appears to be holding together so well..."

I'm not sure what makes people think it is holding together at all.

E.g., While the NY Times was misquoting a top US general to fuel an epidemic of alarm across the US media about the the great "bog down" resulting from all the "unexpected resistance" that Saddam had so cleverly planned, which it now turns out the general may not have been commenting on, an observer who actually has credentials in military affairs wonders if the Iraqi regime has been putting up any organized resistance at all...

John Keegan:

"Saddam, or whoever is in charge, is fighting the strangest war. It is tempting to wonder, on the evidence so far presented, whether the Iraqis have been fighting a war at all.

"Consider what the Iraqis have not done. They did not defend their frontier with Kuwait ... They scarcely defended Umm Qasr, Iraq's only and vital port ... They have not fought any large-scale or even small-scale battles, though the territory of their country is being eaten up day by day.

"More mysteriously they have neither demolished nor seriously defended any of the bridges over the Tigris or the Euphrates, which are essential to the coalition's movements into the country.

"Iraq's defensive strategy, if it can be so called, appears casual to the point of carelessness.

"Moreover, looking through the other end of the telescope, what Iraq has failed to do amounts also to an inexplicable abdication of advantage. Blown bridges are strong defences...

"What is Saddam up to? ... Did he so much underestimate his enemies that he made no proper preparations? ... Or is it simply that Saddam is disabled or actually dead and that no one of his megalomaniac determination is running the Iraqi war effort?

"Perhaps there will be a big battle over the next few days, through which the Iraqi hand will be revealed. That seems improbable.

"Yet, unless and until there is some serious fighting, observers will be left with the eerie impression that the Second Gulf War is not really taking place."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2003%2F04%2F03%2Fwar203.xml


Posted by: Jim Glass on April 3, 2003 01:41 PM

"Yet, unless and until there is some serious fighting, observers will be left with the eerie impression that the Second Gulf War is not really taking place."

I'm pretty sure the poor b#$#%^&%$ in the Medina Division of the Republican Guard think there's a war on. And they're getting hammered.

If Saddam Hussein *is* dead, the people who are hiding it must by SOOOOOO steeped in blood, that they think it's complete suicide to surrender. Because if Saddam *is* dead, there are going to be at least a couple thousand troops left, who will be pretty pissed that someone didn't stop the slaughter.

I saw a biography of Saddam Hussein, in which Hussein was quoted as saying or writing something like, "When I'm gone, the Iraqi people will be no more." Or something like that. Something that left the distinct impression that he planned to go out with a bang. Which is why I'm glad he probably doesn't have nukes.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 3, 2003 02:31 PM

Something I sent the other day went missing.

The big problem with all those bribery/live happily ever after offers is that THE USA IS VERY LOW ON CREDIBILITY. Why on earth would someone take the bet? The claim that people wouldn't trust a similar but reversed offer from Saddam Hussein applies even more so to the word of the President of the United States of America. At least the former delivered on his offers of money to the families of suicide bombers - but the world can see the track record of the USA over decades, its "honour" in the strict sense.

Yes, there are moral reasons for not keeping promises made to bad people, but that's not what honour means. It's more like a credit rating. The more you provide reasons for default, the more you actually suggest that default is a standard mode for you; people may well end up forgiving you, but they won't end up TRUSTING you.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on April 3, 2003 03:56 PM

Mark, you missed the point.

Anyone who would take the money and surrender has already done so, because the value of their own life is far higher than any price you could offer.

Anyone still fighting is being motivated by things that money cannot affect: fear that he or his family will be shot, fear of accountability for war crimes, loyalty, or nationalism.

Posted by: Ethan on April 3, 2003 05:54 PM

Mark, you missed the point.

Anyone who would take the money and surrender has already done so, because the value of their own life is far higher than any price you could offer.

Anyone still fighting is being motivated by things that money cannot affect: fear that he or his family will be shot, fear of accountability for war crimes, loyalty, or nationalism.

Posted by: Ethan on April 3, 2003 06:25 PM

A bigger question is -- is George W Bush still alive? Rumor has it that the strange dead-eyed creature that appears so often on our TV screens is actually a puppet controlled by Dick Cheyney...

Posted by: Arnold Bocklin on April 4, 2003 08:31 AM

That Russian analysis linked to above is certainly worth appreciating now.

One prediction we can make about to the aftermath to this war is that Russian military analysts will be lowering their consulting rates.

Posted by: Jim Glass on April 5, 2003 07:37 PM

I earlier predicted that Saddam Hussein would sneak out of Iraq instead of fighting the coalition forces. Did I totally miss the boat? Or, did the radical Left-wingers unwittingly encourage him to give the middle finger to Bush and Blair? We will probably have a clearer picture in the next few weeks. My guess is that the war could have been avoided if the French, Germans, and Russians, had not betrayed us.

Also, we almost certainly will find more substantial evidence concerning the perfidious relationships these countries had with the evil Saddam regime.

Posted by: David Thomson on April 5, 2003 09:08 PM

"My guess is that the war could have been avoided if the French, Germans, and Russians, had not betrayed us. Also, we almost certainly will find more substantial evidence concerning the perfidious relationships these countries had with the evil Saddam regime."

Since the French, Germans, and Russians were not bound by any alliance to support our invasion of Iraq, it is a little illogical to say that they "betrayed" us, don't you think? It might be more accurate to say that they did not take our side, but then again, it is hardly to be expected that countries will side with unprovoked military invasions of other countries, no matter how brutally repressive their governments.

You're probably right that our troops will find substantial evidence of Russian, French, and German business dealings with the Iraqui government. How fortunate that evidence of the U.S. government's own support for Iraq before 1991 will almost surely be suppressed or destroyed. Military occupation does have its advantages, though it is inconvenient that _someone_ has to die to bring it about. Oh well.

Posted by: andres on April 6, 2003 10:02 PM

"Mark, you missed the point. Anyone who would take the money and surrender has already done so, because the value of their own life is far higher than any price you could offer."

If this point has been made, it's incorrect.

Absent the offer of substantial payment for surrender, the only options are 1) surrender, and face possible retribution, without gaining anything except possibly saving one's life, or 2) continue fighting, and possibly lose one's life...but not face any retribution.

The money is to sway the choice in favor of surrendering without fighting.

Once again, Ethan, I challenge you to honestly choose among the 3 choices offered:

1) Surrender, and get nothing,

2) Fight to the death, or

3) Surrender, and get a many years of pay.

"Anyone still fighting is being motivated by things that money cannot affect:..."

This is BS. The whole human experience is that money affects things. Your argument not that money can't affect the decision; your argument is that the money ***I'm talking about offering*** can't affect the outcome. But since the amount of money in my offer would vary, depending on how many people are involved, I don't think you can make any prediction. For example, if my offer was made to "only" 5,000 soldiers and low-ranking officers, and the total amount of the reward was $5 billion, thats $1 MILLION per person. That's some serious money!

"...fear that he or his family will be shot,..."

That is precisely WHY the reward is necessary. Surrendering without receiving the reward exposes one to the risk of having oneself, or one's family, shot...without any compensention for the risk. That's why many don't surrender.

"...fear of accountability for war crimes,..."

I don't find it plausible that a substantial fraction of the soldiers and low-ranking officers of the Iraqi military (including the Republican Guard) can be fearful of "accountability for war crimes." The simple fact is that, in NO war that I'm aware of, have even 5% of the soldiers and low-ranking officers in any country's military been prosecuted for war crimes. (In fact, I'll bet it's probably been less than 0.5%...or 1 in 200.)

>...loyalty, or nationalism."

The U.S. military can kill such people. But I'll bet very few exist. These people ought to know, if only from the results in Southern Iraq, that they aren't fighting for Iraq; there hasn't been any murdering/raping/looting of civilian populations, by coalition troops. Therefore, they are fighting only out of loyalty to Saddam...I doubt that any substantial fraction of the Iraqi military is loyal to Saddam. Especially loyal enough to forgo many years' pay, and possibly be killed.

Once again, of the 3 choices, which would YOU select?


Posted by: Mark Bahner on April 7, 2003 02:27 PM

Dribble

Posted by: Ian Bell on April 9, 2003 04:22 PM

Dribble

Posted by: Ian Bell on April 9, 2003 04:23 PM

Dribble

Posted by: Ian Bell on April 9, 2003 04:24 PM

Dribble

Posted by: Ian Bell on April 9, 2003 04:24 PM
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