War planners now floating risks
jlevich at earthlink.net
Tue Feb 18 07:05:43 MST 2003
Note Rumsfeld suggesting Saddam would "use weapons of mass destruction
against his own people and blaming it on us." Needless to say, this
reflects the US planning to use WMD and blame it on Saddam.
February 18, 2003
War Planners Begin to Speak of War's Risks
By DAVID E. SANGER and THOM SHANKER
WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 Senior Bush administration officials are for the
first time openly discussing a subject they have sidestepped during the
buildup of forces around Iraq: what could go wrong, and not only during an
attack but also in the aftermath of an invasion.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has a four- to five-page,
typewritten catalog of risks that senior aides say he keeps in his desk
drawer. He refers to it constantly, updating it with his own ideas and
suggestions from senior military commanders, and discussing it with
His list includes a "concern about Saddam Hussein using weapons of mass
destruction against his own people and blaming it on us, which would fit a
pattern," Mr. Rumsfeld said. He said the document also noted "that he could
do what he did to the Kuwaiti oil fields and explode them, detonate, in a
way that lost that important revenue for the Iraqi people."
That item is of particular concern to administration officials' postwar
planning because they are counting on Iraqi oil revenues to help pay for
rebuilding the nation.
Although administration officials are no doubt concerned about the ultimate
number of American casualties, they have declined to discuss the issue and
it is not known how that risk figures in Mr. Rumsfeld's list.
If there is one thing that haunts administration planners it is the thought
of a protracted conflict, which could lead to increased casualties. "How
long will this go on?" one senior administration official asked. "Three
days, three weeks, three months, three years?" Even some of this official's
aides winced as they contemplated the last time frame on that list.
The Rumsfeld document also warns of Mr. Hussein hiding his weapons in
mosques or hospitals or cultural sites, and using his citizenry or captured
foreign journalists as human shields. The risks, Mr. Rumsfeld said, "run
the gamut from concerns about some of the neighboring states being
attacked, concerns about the use of weapons of mass destruction against
those states or against our forces in or out of Iraq."
A senior Bush administration official confirmed that a number of
uncertainties remained even after months of internal studies, advance
planning and the insertion of Central Intelligence Agency officers and
Special Operations forces into some corners of Iraq.
"We still do not know how U.S. forces will be received," the senior
official said. "Will it be cheers, jeers or shots? And the fact is, we
won't know until we get there."
In an administration that strives to sound bold and optimistic especially
when discussing the political, economic and military power of America
such cautionary notes from the White House, the Pentagon and intelligence
officials may well have a political purpose. Following the military maxim
that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, the
administration may feel it is better to warn the American public of these
dangers in advance.
According to his aides, President Bush has to prepare the country for what
one senior official calls "the very real possibility that this will not
look like Afghanistan," a military victory that came with greater speed
than any had predicted, and with fewer casualties.
If Mr. Bush decides to begin military action without explicit United
Nations approval, other nations may well withhold support for what promises
to be the far more complex operation of stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq
while preventing religious and political score-settling and seeking out
well-hidden weapons stores before others find them, not to speak of
continuing the war on terror.
"There is a lot to keep us awake at night," one senior administration
As America's intelligence assets focus on Iraq, senior officials worry they
may be less thorough in tracking threats to the nation elsewhere.
Just last week on Capitol Hill, Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the
Defense Intelligence Agency, said that his ability to detect the spread of
nuclear weapons or missiles around the world was being "stretched thin,"
and he said that some parts of the world, including South Asia, Russia and
China, had less coverage than he would like.
The director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, hinted at one of the
deepest worries heard in the hallways of the intelligence agency, the
Pentagon and the White House: that a successful removal of Saddam Hussein
could be followed by a scramble among Iraqis for what remains of his
military arsenal particularly his chemical and biological weapons
before it was secured by American forces.
"The country cannot be carved up," Mr. Tenet said of Iraq. "The country
gets carved up and people believe they have license to take parts of the
country for themselves. That will make this a heck of a lot harder."
At the White House, officials acknowledged that they had been late in
focusing on the question of how to bring enough relief assistance to the
region in the days after an attack begins, which could turn the populace
against their would-be liberators. Mr. Bush's political aides are acutely
aware that if Iraq turns into lengthy military operation, or if
stabilization efforts are viewed by the Iraqi people as foreign occupation,
those events will quickly be seized upon by Mr. Bush's opponents.
Administration officials list these among their concerns:
¶A muddy transition of power. Most of the planning has called for the swift
removal of Mr. Hussein and his top aides. While a coup or exile might
preclude the need for military action, they could create a chaotic
situation in which Mr. Hussein is gone but the United States is not in
control. Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, has begun to talk
about how it will not be enough to remove Mr. Hussein, saying, "We must
also get rid of Saddam-ism." Some, especially at the Pentagon, ask if, in
the event of a coup or exile, the United States military might have to go
into Iraq anyway to assure that the succession of power leaves in place a
government that would give up all weapons of mass destruction.
¶Chaos after Mr. Hussein is gone. Several task forces on Iraq have examined
what some call the "score-settling problem," the specter of rivalries and
feuds that have been bottled up for decades spinning out of control. Most
have concluded that one result may be an American military occupation
likely to be longer than the 18 months that Ms. Rice has talked about.
Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy, noted in Senate
testimony last week that getting at the stockpiles of weapons of mass
destruction would be a "complex, dangerous and expensive task."
¶Events outside Iraq. North Korea is the first concern here, because a
crisis there could require military resources tied up in the Middle East.
An equal concern is terrorism here or in Europe, set off by Al Qaeda or
others. One official noted recently that it might be impossible to know if
an act of terror was set off by agents of Iraq or simply by terrorists
taking advantage of the Iraq invasion.
¶Securing the oil fields. It is assumed that Mr. Hussein would try to
destroy the oil infrastructure. The only question is how thorough a job he
would do. Blowing up the above-ground pumping stations, while troublesome,
would not be that hard to fix. Sinking explosives deep underground, where
they damage the drilling infrastructure, could be far more destructive.
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