#5 - JRL 7133
April 7, 2003
SEVEN SURPRISES FROM THE WAR IN IRAQ
The Anglo-Saxons have suffered a moral and political defeat
Author: Andrei Kokoshin
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
ESCALATION OF THE GLOBAL TENSION: THE LEADERS AND COUNTRIES, WHICH, BECAUSE THEY BELONG TO THE "AXIS OF EVIL" ARE EXPECTING SIMILAR ACTIONS ON THE PART OF THE US, WILL MAKE MOST SERIOUS CONCLUSIONS OF THESE SURPRISES (AND SOME OTHER WHICH MAY EMERGE).
About the author: Andrei Afanasiyevich Kokoshin is a chairman of the Duma committee for affairs of the CIS and compatriots, former senior deputy defense minister and secretary of the Russian Security Council, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Science.
The course of the Iraqi war enables arriving at several conclusions regarding the constellation of surprising political- military, strategic and operational-tactical phenomena (surprises), which the U.S. and Britain have faced.
First surprise: the Anglo-Saxons don't possess the overwhelming supremacy in the media sphere. Availability of the Euronews have undermined the television news monopoly of CNN and the BBC, at least in the Euro-Atlantic area. The Al-Jazeera television channel has become a factor of political-psychological influence not in the Arab East alone, but also the world community on the whole, penetrating even the information space of CNN.
This is a radical distinction of the current situation from that of March-April 2003 and what was taking place during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and during the war of the United States and its NATO allies in Yugoslavia in 1999.
The electronic media eventually determine the winner and the loser in the war, especially in the moral and political aspects.
Second surprise: behavior of Turkey, which has been considered America's most significant outpost in the Middle East along with Israel (and established specific relations with Israel). Turkey's refusal to be involved in the war against Iraq in the alliance with the coalition forces has proved to be unexpected for the White House especially since Turkey is coming through financial and economic hardships. The finance worth of approximately $30 billion (grants and loans), which the US offered, is imperative for the Turkish economy.
For the first time over many decades, the leadership of the Turkish General Staff, which was trying to influence the government and the parliament to ensure Turkey's direct involvement in the coalition headed by the US, has failed.
The third surprise concerns absence of mass actions on the part of the Shiites in south Iraq against Saddam Hussein's regime in support of the United States and its allies. Moreover, as some sources say, the Shiite clergy have been active at speaking against the United States, especially because two (Najaf and Karbala in Iraq) of the main Muslim sacred places (the town of Kum in Iran being the third) are jeopardized.
The fourth surprise is that the methods of psychological influence on the armed forces of Iraq, which, contrary to expectations of Washington and London, are not hastening to surrender their weapons on the scale similar to the events of 1991, are working very bad. In the meantime, the Anglo-Saxons are said to be remarkable experts of the propaganda.
Fifth suprise: inability of the U.S. military machinery, having its powerful reconnaissance-intelligence and the striking components, to destroy the system of state and military control of Iraq.
Sixth surprise: relatively high efficiency of semi-armed formations.
Seventh surprise: in the eye of the Arab and the Muslim world on the whole, Saddam Hussein is changing the cloak of the tyrant into apparel of a hero, the leader, who didn't break under the pressure of the gigantic political, economic, military and propaganda might of the United States. (The fact that many groups of Iraqi emigrants previously opposed to Hussein have decided to stop criticizing him mirrors that phenomenon.) In particular, this has been a bad service to moderate regimes at many of the Arab states, which are becoming more vulnerable to the radicals.
All of these unforeseen events and phenomena, which by far exceed the common "war debate" (under Clausewitz) and some other circumstances have brought the U.S. government and military command to face the hardest dilemma: either to take Baghdad by storm, or start besieging it (using raids by the special forces, high-precision strikes, etc.)
If the coalition forces initiate a storm, they'd lose their main advantage - ability to have the enemy detected and hit at a larger distance than that at which the enemy may locate and kill them.
The last time the U.S. troops were involved in the city fights during the Vietnam War, in the town of Hue. Fighting almost an equal by its strength grouping of the ground forces (two Vietnamese divisions), but having the overwhelming supremacy in the firepower, as a renowned U.S. expert B. Posen says, lost 600 soldiers killed and 3,600 wounded. At the same time, the major part of the city was razed to the ground. Over the past few years, among the US's allies Israel has alone worked out the tactics of city fights using heavy military hardware (from the experience of extensive studies of the Grozny fights during the first Chechen campaign), including the special armored personnel carrier vehicle produced on the basis of T-55 Soviet tank, an armored bulldozer and the Mercava tank. However, no evidence proving that the American and the British soldiers adopted this experience (judging at least by the fights in Basra) is available. However, even this kind of experience has a restricted significance for fights in any Iraqi city, since the Israelis use their tactics to destroy relatively small and isolated groups of Palestine radicals.
Siege of Baghdad, a city with the population of 5 million, is pregnant with tremendous losses among the civilians, a humanitarian catastrophe. Under the absence of the Anglo-Saxon media supremacy, this will echo in all spots of the world, including the United States, where the peak of the anti-war movement and its influence on the U.S. political elite might not been passed yet.
It goes almost without doubts a military victory of America and the coalition partners will be obtained - even though with huge losses and not as soon as many have expected. It is, however, clear that in the political respect this victory will prove to be something else than the Washington "hawks" and their listeners in Washington, London and other capitals have been counting on.
The war may entail quite different economic aftermaths, at least the short- and medium-term consequences. They may increase the probability that the recession may be prolonged in the three "centers of force" of the global economy (the United States, European Union and Japan) for a few months, which will negatively affect the Russian economy as well.
The leaders and countries, which, because they belong to the "axis of evil" are expecting similar actions on the part of the US, will make most serious conclusions of these surprises (and some other which may emerge).
(Translated by Andrei Ryabochkin)