A Tale of Two Strategies
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
The pieces are now in place for both the brilliant and the foolish strategies regarding Iraq. The brilliant strategy is to use the principle of judo and use the power of your enemy to your favor. It is like the physics principle of the lever. Apply a little power and leverage it into a great force.
The USA is at war with an amorphous enemy, al-Qaida. This is a global guerrilla war, magnified by weapons of horror. The enemy is hidden in many places, and the U.S. seems to have difficulty infiltrating their realm because of language and cultural differences. It would be clever to have an Arab ally to ferret out the information. Iraq could be that unwitting ally.
The brilliant strategy is to scare Iraq into believing that a mad US president will attack and crush that country and its regime. To scare the chiefs of Iraq, the threat must be credible, so the U.S. has to prepare its troops as if for a real war. The U.S. has to gather allies and present its case before the United Nations. The U.S. has to make demands on Iraq.
Another piece of the brilliant strategy is to link Iraq with al-Qaida. There is huge opposition to a war with Iraq within the USA, among the Europeans, and especially in the Arab world. But that opposition would vanish instantly if there is another major terrorist attack on the US. If the US can blame Iraq, Congress would overwhelmingly back the war, as would Europe, and the Arab countries could not say no. The US military does not know where to attack al-Qaida, but Iraq has targets such as palaces and military bases that can't run and hide.
The chiefs of Iraq know this, and they know that the US has the power to crush the Iraqi army. It is in the interests of the Iraqi chiefs to prevent an attack by al-Qaida. The chiefs of Iraq have a general interest in knowing what al-Qaida is up to anyway, so if they are smart, they have sent their men into the ranks of al-Qaida to gather intelligence.
Iraqis, if smart, have also set up channels of communication. Smart Iraqi leaders would do their best to prevent an attack on the US by al-Qaida. The clever Iraqi strategy would also be to let in UN inspectors and let them look. The inspectors won't find anything significant, because smart Iraqi chiefs would have taken the key evidence out of the country. So long as UN inspectors are poking around, the US can't attack, unless the US itself is attacked.
So the last piece needed to be filled in for the brilliant US strategy: a link between al-Qaida and Iraq. It would be completely illogical for the Iraqi chiefs to ally themselves with al-Qaida, since that presents an excuse for an attack by the US. But the US needs that link to complete its strategy. That link was finally provided on September 27, 2002. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated that he had "bulletproof" evidence of links between al-Qaida and the government of Iraq, including the presence members of al-Qaida in Baghdad.
Other US administration officials made similar statements. Rumsfeld offered no details, since, he said, this would jeopardize the sources. The US administration admits that there is no direct evidence linking Iraq to the attack of September 11, 2001. But the brilliant strategy would be to make the world and Iraq believe that US officials believe there is a current link between Iraq and al-Qaida. Now all the pieces are in place for a US attack on Iraq as an ally of al-Qaida. In the brilliant strategy, Iraq has been pushed to create that link not to ally itself to al-Qaida, but the opposite, to create links that will prevent any attack on the US. Iraq can use persuasion backed by threats to harm al-Qaida interests if it is engaged in plans for major attacks on the US. There could indeed be al-Qaida in Baghdad, but the purpose could be to dissuade them from attacking the US!
All the actions of the US so far are consistent with the brilliant strategy to use the threat of war with Iraq to turn Iraq into an ally against al-Qaida. It is no coincidence that so far there has been no second attack on the US by al-Qaida. Surely it is not because al-Qaida has lost interest.
But, unfortunately, the actions of the US also fit the alternative possibility, a foolish strategy that actually seeks war with Iraq no matter what. The foolish strategy would be that the chiefs of the US really mean to have a war, and the accusations of al-Qaida links and the UN activities are just stepping stones towards inevitable war. The foolish strategy would be an aggressive attack to prevent hypothetical attacks, preemption that would go beyond Iraq into other axes of evil. It would not be "read my lips, no new axes." It would be axes to grind against endless enemies.
Within a few months, we will see whether the US is pursuing the brilliant or the foolish strategy. If the US pursues the foolish strategy, the conquest of Iraq, though it would have benefits, will not stop al-Qaida, but do the opposite. It is not that al-Qaida would gain many new recruits, but that the US would lose an unwitting ally in a position to stifle the main enemy in the 21st century's global war between the modern world and dogmatic supremacists.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2002 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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