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[infowar.de] NYT 26.03.03: Take Down Saddam TV
New York Times
March 26, 2003
Take Down Saddam TV
By Maureen Dowd
WASHINGTON--Rummy was grumpy.
TV generals and Pentagon reporters were poking at his war plan, wondering
if he had enough troops and armor on the ground to take Baghdad and protect
the rear of his advancing infantry.
"It's a good plan," the war czar insisted with a grimace, adding that
battle is "a tough business."
The cocky theorists of the administration, and their neo-con gurus, are now
faced with reality and history: the treacherous challenge, and the cost in
lives and money, of bringing order out of chaos in Iraq.
With sandstorms blackening their TV screens, with P.O.W.'s and casualties
tearing at their hearts, Americans are coming to grips with the triptych of
bold transformation experiments that are now in play.
There is the president's dream of remaking the Middle East to make America
safer from terrorists.
There is Dick Cheney's desire to transform America into a place that flexes
its power in the face of any evil.
There is Donald Rumsfeld's transformation of the American military,
changing from the old heavy ground forces to smaller, more flexible units
with high-tech weapons.
When Tommy Franks and other generals fought Rummy last summer, telling him
he could not invade Iraq without overwhelming force, the defense chief
treated them like old Europe, acting as if they just didn't get it.
He was going to send a smaller force on a lightning-quick race to Baghdad,
relying on air strikes and psychological operations leaflets to civilians
and e-mail and calls to Iraqi generals to encourage Iraqis to revolt
(The Pentagon has downgraded Saddam, the way it did Osama when it just
missed getting him. Now the war in Iraq is "not about one man," as General
Franks put it.)
The administration was afraid that with too many Iraqis dead, we would lose
the support of the world. But some generals worry that by avoiding tactics
that could kill Iraqi civilians and "baby-talking" the Iraqi military, we
have emboldened the enemy and endangered American troops.
As Ralph Peters, a retired military officer, wrote in a Washington Post
op-ed article: "Some things do not change. The best way to shock and awe an
enemy is still to kill him."
Despite the vast sums we spend on our intelligence and diplomatic services,
American officials often seem clueless about the culture of our
adversaries. After Vietnam, Robert McNamara admitted that he and other war
planners had never understood Vietnamese history and culture. Our
intelligence services didn't see the Iranian revolution coming, or the
Soviet Union's breakup.
It's hard to know why the administration seems so surprised at Iraqi ruses.
As Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military tactician who inspired the "shock
and awe" campaign, noted, "All war is deception." Besides, the Iraqis used
similar fake surrender tricks in the last gulf war.
It's also hard to know why the Pentagon is surprised at Iraqi brutality, or
at the failure of Iraqi ethnic groups, deserted by America after the last
gulf war, to celebrate their "liberation" by the U.S., or by the hardened
resistance of Saddam loyalists like the fedayeen, who have no escape hatch
this time around.
American war planners were privately experiencing some shock and awe at
Iraqi obliviousness to shock and awe, which we can see on TV, as Iraqis
crowd into restaurants and onto roofs to watch the bombing.
Miscalculating, the Pentagon delayed trying to take down Iraqi TV until
last night because it hoped to use the network after the war. But that
target should have been one of the first so the Iraqis could not have
peddled their propaganda, paraded our P.O.W.'s and shown brazen speeches by
Saddam, or Stepford-Saddam, and the mockery of Iraqi officials over the
predictions of a quick victory.
The Pentagon started last year with an "inside out" strategy that would
rely on a quick capture of Baghdad, with U.S. forces then taking over the
rest of the country. That was scrapped in favor of the "outside in"
strategy that we're now witnessing.
But Saddam responded to our "outside in" strategy with his own "inside out"
Tragically for everybody, the Iraqi fiend is still inside, dug in and
diabolically determined to kill as many people as he can on the way out.
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