How the Iraqi generals sold out to the highest bidder

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed May 21 11:52:36 MDT 2003
Smart Bribes
Centcom's real secret weapon.
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2003, at 2:49 PM PT

A fascinating piece in the May 19 Defense News quotes Gen. Tommy Franks, 
chief of U.S. Central Command, confirming what had until now been mere 
rumors picked up by dubious Arab media outlets—that, before Gulf War II 
began, U.S. special forces had gone in and bribed Iraqi generals not to 

"I had letters from Iraqi generals saying, 'I now work for you,' " 
Franks told Defense News reporter Vago Muradian in a May 10 interview.

The article quotes a "senior official" as adding, "What is the effect 
you want? How much does a cruise missile cost? Between one and 2.5 
million dollars. Well, a bribe is a PGM [precision-guided munition]—it 
achieves the aim, but it's bloodless and there's zero collateral damage."

One official is quoted as saying that, in the scheme of the whole 
military operation, the bribery "was just icing on the cake." But 
another says that it "was as important as the shooting part, maybe more 
important. We knew that some units would fight out of a sense of duty 
and patriotism, and they did. But it didn't change the outcome because 
we knew how many of these [Iraqi generals] were going to call in sick."

All of which further reinforces the vague sense that—for all the embeds, 
armchair generals, and round-the-clock news coverage—we still know 
startlingly little about what really happened in this war.

The Defense News article raises what could be the biggest military 
question of all: Just what won this war so swiftly—the high-tech prowess 
and agility of the modern American military, or old-fashioned back-alley 
spycraft? Which was the real wonder weapon—the smart bomb or the greenback?



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