Patterico's Pontifications



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:23 pm

MAIL, WE GET MAIL: A reader writes to address my concern that we are overly telegraphing our attack on Iraq. The e-mail is worth quoting in its entirety:

“Surprise is important if you are evenly matched or smaller. It becomes less important when you have overwhelming force or if your enemy can do nothing to stop you. (I’m not saying this is the case with Iraq, but it arguably is and the Administration may be assuming so.) During Viet Nam, someone complained that one of LBJ’s speeches told Hanoi in advance that American bombers were on the way. The Pentagon’s response was that it didn’t matter because the North Vietnamese could to nothing to prevent the attack anyway. Later they were bombed regularly twice a day for a couple of years. They knew the attacks were coming but could not stop them. In this situation, it is arguably advantageous to tell the enemy in advance what you are going to do them in order to demoralize their military officers who realize they cannot prevent it. Before the 1991 Gulf War there was a prolonged and very visible build up of 500,000 or so American troops and military equipment in the area. I have to think that this was designed to show the Iraqi military that resistance would be futile. Saddam failed to back down, of course, and went to war anyway, but it was a reasonable gambit to try. Maybe they are trying the same thing again.”

My personal feeling is that this may be a valid point — but one which may not apply in these circumstances. Don’t forget about the Saddam wild card: chemical and biological weapons. As I discussed in my earlier post on this site, a Los Angeles Dog Trainer article indicates that the only reason for Saddam to keep his wildly inaccurate Al-Samoud 2s would be to tip them with biological and chemical weapons and lob them at Kuwait, where our troops are gathering. I assume we have a plan in place to take these missiles out with precision bombing — but that may not work if we telegraph exactly when we are going to attack. My guess is that our telegraphing has less to do with military strategy and more to do with diplomacy. Given that the latter appears to be going nowhere (although you never know), I would prioritize the former.

Separately, I received my first e-mail calling me an idiot today. The writer was very pleasant; I think he was simply responding to my invitation for people to send me such e-mails. Keep ’em coming! (But you aren’t required to call me an idiot!)

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