02:06 - PDA Bulletin - 'new war', 'regime change', and anti-terror strategy
- New from the Project on Defense Alternatives
"Dislocating Alcyoneus: How to combat al-Qaeda and the new
by Carl Conetta. PDA Briefing Memo #23, 25 June 2002. The
memo outlines a "strategy of dislocation" for defeating the new
terrorism. Al Qaeda is analyzed as a "distributed transnational
network" that uses terrorism in order to catalyze political-cultural
polarization and mobilization.
"The Pentagon's New Budget, New Strategy, and New War"
by Carl Conetta. PDA Briefing Report #12, 25 June 2002. Examines the
new US military strategy as codified in the September 2001
Quadrennial Defense Review and practiced in the Afghan war. The
report contrasts the new QDR with its 1997 predecessor, paying
special attention to the Bush administration's "new concept of
"Bush Administration Policy Toward Europe: Continuity and Change"
by Charles Knight, January 2002 (.pdf file). The demise of the Oslo
peace process in 2001 and a likely renewal of intense war with Iraq
in 2002 or 2003 will play very differently on each side of the
Atlantic. In certain circumstances the differences might be so great
that European powers would feel compelled to reject American
leadership and pursue a separate course.
Bush declarations make it all the more likely Hussein will use
by Charles Knight
So single-minded is the Bush administration's enthusiasm for toppling
Saddam Hussein's government that American officials fail to account
for the effect of broadcasting their intent to seek "regime change."
By contrast, the Joint Staff of the armed services, which has the
task of planning a campaign against Iraq, can not avoid the strategic
dilemma embedded in the administration's declarations.
In their preparations our military establishment has focused
particular attention on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and their
potential threat to U.S. forces and allies in the region once we
begin war with Iraq. We know that stockpiles of these weapon are
greatly diminished from the levels Iraq possessed in 1991, but
residual stocks remain a real concern. The Pentagon believes U.S.
conventional superiority of arms can easily defeat Iraq's army, yet
military planners worry that use of chemical or biological weapons by
Iraq might result in the deaths of hundreds or even thousands of
American soldiers. And then there is the war scenario in which the
Iraqis launch missiles with chemical warheads against Israeli cities
provoking retaliation with Israel's nuclear weapons!
By the logic of deterrence the very declaration by the United States
of its intent to force a change of regime makes the use of Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction all the more likely. Charles A. Duelfer,
former deputy executive chairman of the UN Special Commission on Iraq
(UNSCOM), testified before Congress earlier this year about his
candid discussions with high level military officers in Iraq. These
officers confirmed that in the 1991 Gulf War the threat of U.S.
retaliation successfully deterred Iraq from the use of chemical
weapons they had at the ready. The Iraqis also asserted that they
would have used their chemical weapons had the coalition's forces
marched on Baghdad. In the war's aftermath Iraq's leadership
concluded that possession of these weapons saved their nation by
deterring the United States from pursuing that option.
Significantly, they also believed their chemical weapons were an
indispensable part of their country's defense against mass Iranian
offensives in the earlier Gulf War.
By declaring the objective of regime change the United States puts
Saddam Hussein in the position of defending not only his regime, but
also his very being. If sometime soon US troops march on Baghdad, we
can anticipate a desperate moment when Hussein will have very little
left to lose. At that moment, America will have lost the power to
Indeed, under strategic conditions set by U.S. policy declarations,
the logic shifts toward encouraging use of weapons of mass
destruction by Iraq well before American troops approach Baghdad.
Knowing that the United States will strike first in an effort to
significantly degrade its stores of chemical weapons, Iraq faces the
classic "use them or lose them" dilemma. Combine the planning for a
first strike against Iraq with the stated intention of overthrowing
the Iraqi regime and the United States will have essentially
discarded the stabilizing logic of deterrence. U.S. declarations of
intent will make the use of weapons of mass destruction very
thinkable, and even necessary, from the Iraqi perspective.
Leading American newspapers have reported that the Chiefs of the
armed services have argued strongly against a full-scale invasion of
Iraq and have successfully persuaded the President to at least
postpone such action. It remains unclear how long this restraint
from the generals will hold. Speaking before the 2002 graduating
class at West Point President Bush reaffirmed his administration's
strategic leanings. He said: "Containment is not possible when
unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver
those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist
allies...our security will require all Americans to be...ready
for preemptive action "
Americans would do well to carefully contemplate the wisdom of upping
the ante by taking preemptive offensive action against Iraq. It is a
certainty that counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism strategies
involving first strike military action and regime change will have
unintended consequences, among these a wide-spread lowering of the
threshold to war. There is also a real danger these strategies
could, with terrible irony, bring on a war of mass destruction in the
Wider War on Terrorism Watch --