A Mesopotamian Stalingrad?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Aug 26 08:43:43 MDT 2002

NY Times, Aug. 26, 2002

Iraq Said to Plan Tangling the U.S. in Street Fighting

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 — President Saddam Hussein of Iraq will try to 
compensate for his armed forces' glaring weaknesses by raising the specter 
of urban warfare if the Bush administration moves to attack the Iraqi 
government, according to Pentagon officials and former United States 
government experts.

In anticipation of an eventual American attack, Iraq has already started 
military preparations, they say.

Iraqi forces have been digging defensive positions for military equipment 
around Baghdad. The Iraqi military has also been moving air defense units 
around the country and dispersing army units in the field to make them less 
vulnerable to a surprise air attack.

During the Persian Gulf war of 1991, the Iraqi troops who captured Kuwait 
dug themselves into positions in the open desert. That made them vulnerable 
to allied air strikes and the fast-paced attacks by the United States' 
better trained and more maneuverable ground forces.

But this time Mr. Hussein's goal is not so much to hold ground as to hold 
power. That means that Iraq can be expected to use the threat of urban 
warfare to try to deter the United States from attacking in the first place 
and to raise the political costs if Washington decides to press ahead with 
an invasion.

"Iraq has no hope of prevailing in a straight military fight, and after 
Desert Storm the Iraqis probably realize that," said Kenneth M. Pollack, 
the director of national security studies at the Council on Foreign 
Relations and a former C.I.A. analyst of the Iraqi military.

"Their best and most likely strategy will be to try to create the political 
conditions that would lead the Bush administration to think twice about an 
attack," Mr. Pollack said. "And one way to do that is to make us believe 
that we are going to face a Mesopotamian Stalingrad."

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/26/international/middleeast/26MILI.html


Most people who became radicalized during the 1960s have no trouble 
understanding the importance of General Giap's victory over the French at 
Dienbienphu or the defeat of the 'gusanos' at the Bay of Pigs. In both 
cases victories of the liberation movement over imperialist invasions 
helped to lay the foundations for further advances in the class struggle.

For a previous generation, the Battle of Stalingrad, which began in the 
summer of 1942 and ended in January 1943, had a similar importance. In this 
most costly of military engagements, the Nazi army suffered not only its 
first major defeat, but one that essentially paved the way for the collapse 
of the Third Reich. The ability of the workers state to defeat the 
seemingly invincible fascist army lifted the morale of every antifascist 
and anticapitalist armed movement worldwide, from Mao's Red Army to the 
French Resistance. Despite the determination of Anglo-American imperialism 
to pick up where Hitler left off, the mood of resistance continued well 
into the 1950s as the Soviet Union remained a symbol of working-class power.

For those who had lost faith after the defeat of the Spanish Republic or 
with the signing of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact, the victory at Stalingrad 
brought a sense of renewal. Painters, sculptors, novelists and poets found 
ways to express their admiration for the Soviet people, including Pablo 
Neruda who wrote "Nuevo Canto de Amor a Stalingrad" in honor of the 
victorious Russian people.
The Nazi defeat also opened the door to new horrors. Arno Mayer argues 
convincingly in "Why the Heavens Did not Darken" that the Judeocide (his 
term--and one that makes sense to most scholars outside the "Holocaust 
industry") was provoked by the disaster at Stalingrad. Prior to January 
1943, Jews had been persecuted but there was no systematic attempt to 
exterminate them as a people. After this turning point, Hitler, probably 
understanding that his days were numbered, began to turn his sights on a 
defenseless people. The Jews became the ultimate scapegoat for the Third 
Reich's inability to impose its will on a people who did know how to defend 
German losses at Stalingrad were staggering. The Sixth Army, under the 
command of Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, began its campaign with 600,000 
soldiers. On Jan. 31, 1943, Paulus disobeyed Hitler and surrendered. On 
February 2 the last of his remaining 91,000 troops turned themselves over 
to the Soviets. The Soviets recovered 250,000 German and Romanian corpses 
in and around Stalingrad and total Axis losses (Germans, Romanians, 
Italians, and Hungarians) are estimated to have been 800,000 dead. Of those 
taken captive, only 6,000 lived to return to their homeland.

At one key battle for control of a factory, there were more casualties than 
during the entire campaign in France the previous year. Official Russian 
military historians estimate that 1,100,000 Soviet soldiers lost their 
lives in the campaign to defend the city, all this in a span of six months.

full: http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/fascism_and_war/Stalingrad.htm

Louis Proyect

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