Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | March 21, 2003

Is Saddam dead? Who cares?

Just got home and turned on CNN. A couple of things have struck me.

Is Saddam dead?
I'm flummoxed by the obsession over whether Hussein is dead. Who cares? A great deal of that is psy ops -- the US hopes that by raising doubt, Hussein will expose himself.

But ultimately, it's an irrelevant question. Iraq's defenders have already decentralized their command and control structure, ensuring that even a clean "decapitation" won't affect units operation autonomously. From a propaganda standpoint, the Iraqi leadership has enough old tape and body doubles of Saddam to assuage (or disappoint) the populace in his continued existence.

And even if Saddam was unambiguously killed, would that ensure a peaceful surrender and ascension of a pro-US government? What if one of Saddam's sons took power? Or a top RG general? Or perhaps worst of all, a cleric?

It seems all attention should be focused on arranging the surrender of individual military units rather than this obsession with Saddam's life (or lack thereof).

Shock and Awe
Pretty freakin' awesome, I must admit. And it looks like it's been relatively confined to military and government targets. But let's face it, those buildings are all empty. I remember earlier this week a story on Iraqi government workers taking out all valuable equipment (computers, faxes, etc.) out of such buildings since they knew they were top targets.

So it's loud, it's bright, the ground shakes, perhaps some Iraqi military personnel die and it makes Americans feel good. But it's also billions of dollars of ordnance dropped on empty buildings, and it's loud, and bright, is hitting empty targets, undoubtedly killed civilians (there's always collateral damage), and is not playing well in the rest of the world.

And one perhaps unintended consequence -- the vast majority of Iraqi defenders spread out over Baghdad will survive the bombardment, emboldened by the fact they survived one of the more intense aerial bombardment in the history of warfare. For all we know, this may actually boost morale.

But I speculate too much. We'll just have to see how this plays out over the weekend.

51st Division surrenders
They're regular army, but its 8,000 men and I'll take it. This may prevent a bloody battle for Basra. Good news. Again, the real test will be whether the US can convince RG units and Saddam's own presidential guard to surrender.

Turkey enters Iraq
Turkish troops have entered northern Iraq, dismissing US demands that it refrain from doing so.

Why should Turkey listen? The US is 'Exhibit A' on the value of ignoring international opinion. In Bush's New World Order, a nation need only cite its hypothetical national interests to justify the invasion of a sovereign state.

The Kurds will fight back, and all hell will break loose.

Posted March 21, 2003 04:20 PM | Comments (64)


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