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Saddam's Plan?
July 16, 2003 8:59 PM   Subscribe

Did America Walk Into A Trap? In stories reported by Newsweek and Fox News it appears possible that the armed resistance now being encountered by US/British forces was part of Saddam Hussein's plan all along. The documents that have been found essentially say that should Baghdad fall, the Baath party loyalists should fade into society and extract vengeance on the occupying soldiers bit by bit. The nightmare scenario before the war was urban combat, Mogadishu style. But now it appears that Hussein may have upped the ante with this "guerrilla-type campaign".
posted by owillis (65 comments total)

 
Saddam was no doubt familiar with local history, especially how a famous Brit lead the Arabs in a guerilla war against the Turks.

"War upon rebellion is messy and slow, like eating soup with a knife."
posted by homunculus at 9:25 PM on July 16, 2003


Wow. Fox News thinks it was a trap? So...uh..does that mean they think the war was a bad idea? Or is that an excuse for more dead soldiers?
posted by graventy at 9:25 PM on July 16, 2003


Bingo. Americans can be so easy, with their idealism and all, with the Wolfiwitzeans studying post the WW2 rebuilding of Democracies in Europe and Japan under the Marshall plan.

[ grow up, little boys, because.... ]

Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein was looking toward the West Bank and Gaza for models of asymmetrical combat in the 21st century.
posted by troutfishing at 9:29 PM on July 16, 2003


models of asymmetrical combat

tell me the truth now, you fuggers don't actually walk around talking like that, do ya? :-)
posted by quonsar at 9:33 PM on July 16, 2003


Bush invaded a country, and now that country is fighting back, and fighting dirty?

Color me unsurprised.
posted by spazzm at 9:41 PM on July 16, 2003


Well, of course Fox News picked up on this. You have essentially two conspiracy theories to choose from:

1. The Iraqis love Americans but a handful of pesky Saddam supporters are ruinining everything.

2. The Iraqis could give a shit less about Americans and would hurt them to hasten their return back to the land of the free so they can run their own country without any US influence.

I'm sure the truth is a mix of the above, but number one is the GOP face-saving explanation. I'm leaning towards 2 right now, as the crowds the guerilla gunmen run into often can't describe who shot the soldiers nor do they try to stop them.

I heard this entire theory on NPR weeks before the war started. I don't know who was commenting but it essentially went like this when he was asked if Saddam was going to take Bush's offer and surrender his office:

Saddam is too egotistical to remove himself from power. He will probably go underground and fight the Americans in a guerilla fashion while trying to win support from the people and other Arab nations.

Sounds like someone was right. I think our chicken-hawks can learn a lot by listening to NPR now and again.
posted by skallas at 9:53 PM on July 16, 2003


They would be buying more Iris Dement CDs, that's for sure.
posted by y2karl at 10:04 PM on July 16, 2003


Yeah, when Baghdad fell in ... oh, 8 minutes, I figured there might be something going on there.

I'm a little surprised we've seemed slow to notice and admit this. But just a little.
posted by jragon at 10:13 PM on July 16, 2003


I think our chicken-hawks can learn a lot by listening to NPR now and again.

Because listening to leftwing radio station is commendable, but watching rightwing fox is deplorable.

Interesting the hypocrisy in that thinking, but I guess it all has to do with one's political views. It's all about perspective.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 10:22 PM on July 16, 2003


quonsar - "models of asymmetrical combat: tell me the truth now, you fuggers don't actually walk around talking like that, do ya?" - Alas, kind sir, I do indeed. I blame this on my curious upbringing. You see, my patrilineal grandmother...." [ *dons Horatio Alger hat, bullets whiz over head, snipping off royal plumage - " You see, good sir, I used to be an American of rough words 'till I joined the royal marines...Oh f__cking sh_ t! Her majesty would be appalled!......ackkk.....* ]
posted by troutfishing at 10:23 PM on July 16, 2003


Dennis Murphy - what of the perspective conferred by an RPG round?
posted by troutfishing at 10:28 PM on July 16, 2003


Dennis Murphy, spare me your righteous indignation.

NPR was providing some really intelligent analysis of concerns about the war from more than a few viewpoints while all I saw on Fox is "Look at this amazing bomb strike, the Iraqi's are slitting their throats at the gates of baghdad." And "WMD found" False alarm. "WMD found!" "Saddam dead!" False alarm. "WMD found!" False alarm. "WMD found" False alarm.

I find NPR to have little to do with the Newstainment phenomenon that so many Americans love.

>Interesting the hypocrisy in that thinking

Yes, that must be hyporcisy. I woulnd't even categorize Fox as right wing as much as it is nationalist and sensationalist. Conservatism used to be about fiscal responsiblity, a true free market, and embracing the social mores of old not corporatism, deficient spending, calling critics of the government unpatriotic, etc.

To each his own I guess.
posted by skallas at 10:29 PM on July 16, 2003


Because listening to leftwing radio station is commendable, but watching rightwing fox is deplorable.

What an embarrassing thing to have said.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:41 PM on July 16, 2003


Saddam as a hidden, demonic bogeyman, pulling guerillaterrorist strings is a much better story for the Bushes than a Saddam captured or dead and Iraqis attacking us because that's how they really feel.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:43 PM on July 16, 2003


FWIW, I listen to NPR all the time, and I find they go out of their way to balance their lefty content with their righty content. Often to my disgust, in fact. Also, I also agree with skallas' suggestion of the lib-con divide disintegration. Time for a new model, dontcha think, Dennis?
posted by squirrel at 10:46 PM on July 16, 2003


Because listening to leftwing radio station is commendable, but watching rightwing fox is deplorable.

no, because the one appears to have a better predictive algorithm than the other. pay attention.
posted by quonsar at 10:47 PM on July 16, 2003


Just because Fox News is crazy doesn't mean they can't be right in this case.

Not claiming to know anything about military strategy here, but wouldn't trying to fight a guerilla war when your foe is a bazillion times more badass than you and it is your home turf be the obvious best choice?

[dittohead]
That's how we whooped up on those cricket-fuckin' tea-drinkers!
[/dittohead]

That is also a part of how the US lost Vietnam, is it not? Either way, who gives a shit if it's organized by Evil Inc. or not? As those same cases show us, the intentional guerilla campaign melds with the popular uprising seemlessly. It's not like they have to wait for a pair of fucking special boots or take a physical before they can throw a rock at you.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:57 PM on July 16, 2003


The only problem with this nasty little guerrilla war is that it will take far too long for them to build a solid backing among the mainstream Iraqis. Us wizened lefties won't be able to croak "TOLD YOU SO!" to Bush, etc. while the story's still playing on Fox (or NPR, for that matter).
posted by divrsional at 11:07 PM on July 16, 2003


Yeah, get ready.. those Serbians are all going to be fighting soon, I mean, they all loved Slobodan Milosevic really!

Oh come on, you're sounding like a broken record.
posted by wackybrit at 11:13 PM on July 16, 2003


What does that mean?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:16 PM on July 16, 2003


y2karl - you got a particular CD and/or track in mind? I love Ms Dement.
posted by notsnot at 11:38 PM on July 16, 2003


Note that as owillis' Newsweek link points out, it's a different situation in different parts of the country.
Fortunately, the attacks have been mostly confined to the so-called Sunni Triangle, around Baghdad in central Iraq, where Iraq’s sizable Sunni Muslim minority resides. The Kurds in the north and the majority Shiites in the south have been far friendlier, or at least docile, toward the American occupiers. They vividly remember the brutal oppression of Saddam’s Sunni-dominated Baath Party.

American soldiers are relatively safe in non-Sunni Iraq. The Marine Expeditionary Force responsible for seven of Iraq’s 18 provinces, the Shiite area that runs south of Baghdad down to Basra, can patrol on foot, without body armor or helmets. They stop to chat with the locals about crime or electricity blackouts, still a problem but slowly improving. In Karbala, some leathernecks on foot patrols often carry only their pistols and clubs to beat off packs of wild dogs that roam the town at night.
Makes you wonder what would have happened if we'd gone with Plan C.
posted by homunculus at 11:47 PM on July 16, 2003


Yes, they walked into a trap. Saddam is brilliant. The U.S. military is "behind the times".

I hear the band Cinderella is putting out a new record.
posted by Witty at 12:05 AM on July 17, 2003


They can open for Judas Priest!
posted by homunculus at 12:16 AM on July 17, 2003


or david cassidy!
posted by quonsar at 12:20 AM on July 17, 2003


If only we would have listened to Admiral Ackbar
posted by drezdn at 1:29 AM on July 17, 2003


Fuck Occam's Razor. It's to be known from now on as Saddam's Norelco Spectra 8894XL.

Is this some kind of coded satire ala The Onion, sans irony for those born without feelers?

Have we just witnessed a new nationalistic meme being cynically thrown into the pot?
posted by crasspastor at 2:55 AM on July 17, 2003


What are the chances of getting Rob Halford to ride around in a white open top car singing "BREAKING THE LAW! BREAKING THE LAW!" to looters?
posted by vbfg at 3:01 AM on July 17, 2003


Dammit! Some farking bastard beat me to the Admiral Ackbar reference...!
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:28 AM on July 17, 2003


Yes, they walked into a trap. Saddam is brilliant. The U.S. military is "behind the times".

One doesn't need to lead from the other, actually it's Fox News themselves that are drawing this conclusion. Are you expressing a sarcastic disagreement with Fox News Mr. Witty? Does this get your name reported to some type of list?
posted by Space Coyote at 3:30 AM on July 17, 2003


During recent hearings, when Rumsfeld or Franks was discussing the "Sunni Triangle" a congresswoman reminded the room that's where 70 or so per cent of the population of Iraq lived.

It would be like if Arizona were invaded and claiming that the only real resistence was in Phoenix and Tucson.
posted by birdherder at 4:31 AM on July 17, 2003


Yes, they walked into a trap. Saddam is brilliant. The U.S. military is "behind the times".

Proof that Witty is actually Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf...
posted by bwg at 4:46 AM on July 17, 2003


Whatever the second guessing, it seems that Saddam never had a plan because he didn't think Bush was serious.

I like the phrase "miraculous denseness."
posted by ednopantz at 5:38 AM on July 17, 2003


Yeah, but that's according to our intelligence agencies. I'm beginning to think that they can't 'intelligence' their way out of a paper bag.
posted by graventy at 7:19 AM on July 17, 2003


Dennis Murphy, spare me your righteous indignation.

Oh please, spare me your nonsense.

Apparently we can link to fox when it fits our agendum. If not, the link would be ridiculed to shreds.

The fact that NPR is not put under such scrutiny or considered biased only shows the general leaning of metafilter.

no, because the one appears to have a better predictive algorithm than the other. pay attention.

Lots of examples to back that up, huh? I seem to remember reading a lot about our military being stuck in a quagmire on NPR. Of course, we were marching through the streets a few days later. Oops!

Guess you forgot tha one, huh? Pay attention quonsar.

What an embarrassing thing to have said.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:41 PM PST on July 16


I was hurt until I read the source. Now, not so much.

It's really cute the way the anti-bush/war side pulls together to make a little team. Really, adorable.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 7:27 AM on July 17, 2003


I was hurt until I read the source. Now, not so much.

Another embarrassing thing to have said. You're batting 1000 out there, sparky! Keep up the good work.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:32 AM on July 17, 2003


I still find it adorable.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 7:46 AM on July 17, 2003


Birdherder, there is nowhere near 70%of the population in the Sunni Triangle. If Iraq is about 65% Shite and 10-15% Kurdish, logic would seem to state that on about 25% of the population is Sunni. Therefore its rather unlikely that 70% of the population lives in the Sunni Triangle.

It is important to note that the attacks come from this one region and one group. Its also the only region that wasn't fought over byUS forces. The two Republican Guard divisions that dominated the area prewar simply melted away into the populace.
posted by pjgulliver at 7:48 AM on July 17, 2003


Well, Colin Powell accused Iraq of " just trying to rope-a-dope this along" in February 2003, but he doesn't seem to know what "rope-a-dope" means:
Thirty seconds into the second round, Ali unleashed a daring and unheard-of "rope-a-dope" strategy: for most of the next eight rounds, he let George Foreman try to kill him. Ali disdained his usual butterfly tactics, simply laying on the ropes instead and letting the unbeaten heavyweight champ flail away. He dodged, avoided or blocked most of the punches, and by the eighth round, the 25-year-old champion was running on empty. Ali took advantage to knock out his exhausted opponent with two seconds left in the round with a crisp left-right combination.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:56 AM on July 17, 2003


The entire war on terrorism has been a trap walked into by an obliging leadership [sic] and an shell-shocked public. The terms of engagement have been set by the enemy from day one.
posted by holycola at 7:58 AM on July 17, 2003



posted by jpoulos at 7:59 AM on July 17, 2003


source, jpoulos?
posted by BlueTrain at 8:02 AM on July 17, 2003


Did Russia Walk Into A Trap? In stories reported by Izvestia and Pravda it appears possible that the armed resistance now being encountered by Russian forces was part of Shamil Basaev's plan all along. The documents that have been found essentially say that should Grozny fall, the Riyadus-Salikhin Martyrs should fade into society and extract vengeance on the occupying soldiers bit by bit. The nightmare scenario before the war was urban combat, Mogadishu style. But now it appears that Basayev may have upped the ante with this "guerrilla-type campaign". See how silly that sounds?
posted by talos at 8:04 AM on July 17, 2003


Dennis, witty, are you saying that there is no way that the guerilla resistance is organized? Or are you saying that it is not popularly supported? All I really understand from your comments is that you think everyone else is wrong. Seeing as how people are taking multiple positions, could you point out who is wrong about what?

And Dennis, I doubt you'll agree, but NPR!=Fox News. I will buy that NPR has biases (as do all human-run institutions), but do you really think that the quality of reporting is similar? One could probably analogize Fox and CommonDreams or Fox and Alternet, but NPR (all politics aside) actually does reporting. Ackowledging that is no different from me or anyone else noting that the Wall Street Journal is a damn fine, independent paper (even though their editorial slant is very conservative).
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:14 AM on July 17, 2003


what jpoulos said. NPR does a fairly decent job of covering both sides of issues. The only liberal issues on Fox News are the ones that get shouted at on the O'Reilly Factor. It's not news. It's Fox News.

on preview, what IJR said.
posted by graventy at 8:19 AM on July 17, 2003


(quonsar):no, because the one appears to have a better predictive algorithm than the other. pay attention.

(Dennis Murphy):Lots of examples to back that up, huh? I seem to remember reading a lot about our military being stuck in a quagmire on NPR. Of course, we were marching through the streets a few days later. Oops!

Yeah, and "we'll" still be marching through the streets four or five years from now, and still be getting shot at. "Quagmire" is not just fun to say, it's a reasonable description of the current situation in Iraq.
posted by uosuaq at 8:31 AM on July 17, 2003


No, its not a quagmire. The total number of Allied dead just reached the level of Gulf War I on Monday. That means that we took over the entire country and have occupied it for months, and only now reached the level of dead encountered in a 100 hour in 1991. Doesn't seem like a quagmire to me.

How would you define quagmire? Why do you all bandy this word around so much?
posted by pjgulliver at 8:34 AM on July 17, 2003


I am loathe to quote dictionary definitions, but...

Ask any of the soldiers who are being asked to stand around while Iraqis take pot shots at them, who know that they could easily be tomorrow's one-a-day statistics, if Iraq is they consider Iraq "a difficult or precarious situation; a predicament."

Go ahead, pjgulliver, say it: "It's only one dead soldier a day."
posted by jpoulos at 8:40 AM on July 17, 2003


I will say it. Its horrible American's are dying, but remember, we have less then 200 war dead. And prewar estimates predicted several thousand US casualties. Seems like we are getting off cheap. What's making this situation seem so horrible is the fact that the deaths are dragged out at a rate of 1 a day. But militarily, nothing is wrong. Its just hurting moral.
posted by pjgulliver at 8:59 AM on July 17, 2003


I just spent two days with a friend of mine, a Marine gunnery sergeant fresh back from Iraq. He had some insights.

(a) Most of the country is rural, agrarian and extremely poor. Mud hut poor, no electricity poor. When the First Marine Experditionary came rumbling through toward Baghdad, at first these people hid, then they begged, then they stole anything that wasn't nailed down. They could give a flying feck about the US or Saddam - it simply didn't effect their lives, which were tough enough. They would occasionally point out Iraqi military guerillas to the Americans, though. These guerillas were ambushing the convoys at night, not effectively but they were a pain.

(b) Most of the Iraqi military shed their uniforms and melted into the countryside to harry and ambush. This was happening constantly even before the fall of Baghdad. He wasn't sure if this was a planned thing...? But it was widespread. Now, these were the trained, well-equipped troops that did this, the conscripts surrendered in droves, just like in Gulf War I. One surrendered to a guy on the crapper in my friend's unit. The marine was doing some business (dysentery was rampant in the First Expeditionary, due to drinking water from the Euphrates river, my friend came back 25 pounds lighter on a 175 pound frame, he was a stick and he told stories of some guys losing upwards of 40 pounds) and the Iraqi soldier just sort of materialized out of the desert, AK and all, and surrendered to him. The guy told him, hold on, finished up, then took him back to the camp.

(c) Most of the small arms attacks going on now are Iraqi military in civvies combined with loyalists, and these are city-people, not country people.

(d) He firmly and resolutely believes the media should be banned from covering combat operations. "There are things in war that people simply should not see." He also thinks that the media is purposefully distorting the reportage, first way pro-, now way con-.

(e) He doesn't know if this was a good idea or not. Probably yes, since Saddam was bleeding the country dry and he says the people are better off without him. He thinks that for the most part the Iraqis are pleased that the Americans have come.
posted by UncleFes at 9:07 AM on July 17, 2003


pjgulliver supports the troops!
posted by RylandDotNet at 9:11 AM on July 17, 2003


Interesting UncleFes.
posted by pjgulliver at 9:11 AM on July 17, 2003


He firmly and resolutely believes the media should be banned from covering combat operations.

While the present civilian leadership, so to speak, at the Pentagon would endorse this--absolutely not.

Report: U.S. May Call National Guard for Iraq Duty
posted by y2karl at 9:14 AM on July 17, 2003


I support the troops 100% RulandDotNet. I have friends over there right now. The last thing I want is for them to die.

I also support the mission. I recognize that hard choices have to be made when employing force, and that there will, invariably, be casualties. I also recognize that this is a professional army, not a conscript army. When men and women join the service, they join voluntarily, with the knowledge that they may go into combat, and all that that entails.
posted by pjgulliver at 9:15 AM on July 17, 2003


And Dennis, I doubt you'll agree, but NPR!=Fox News. I will buy that NPR has biases (as do all human-run institutions), but do you really think that the quality of reporting is similar?

No, I don't. I'm not a fox news fan, and I listen to NPR every morning. And you're right, NPR does make an attempt to show both sides, though no doubt they lean left.

My point was that quonsar (left) pointing to NPR (left) and saying more people should paid attention to it is a little disingenuous. I was merely pointing out the double standard, and that what is considered fair and balanced has much to do with your beliefs and how they compare to the media outlet.

Of course, all I got in response (except for yours) was personal attacks and rhetoric, but it came from you usual suspects, so I'm not surprised.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 9:20 AM on July 17, 2003


I was hurt until I read the source. Now, not so much.

You're right. I hate those personal attacks.
posted by jpoulos at 9:33 AM on July 17, 2003


The fact that NPR is not put under such scrutiny or considered biased only shows the general leaning of metafilter.

And this is a problem how? It gets really tedious arguing about first principles all the time. Sometimes it's actually nice to hang out with people who share a reasonably similar worldview. It lets you skip past all the stuff you've already figured out and dig into some newer and deeper topics.

Ah well. Everything changes, I suppose, and Metafilter's increasing "diversity" is an inevitable consequence of its necessary growth... but having to get into an argument over whether NPR is a reasonable news source or some kind of commie propaganda before we can actually cite NPR as a source makes it rather difficult to actually talk about whatever it is that's happening in the world.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:15 AM on July 17, 2003


"Speaking of Saddam's intelligence failure, another administration official said, "Saddam has exhibited an almost endless ability to miscalculate critical moments in world affairs..."

He then added "And we ought to know!"
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:23 AM on July 17, 2003


Thanks for conceding the NPR point, Dennis. I agree with your position against personal attacks. Putting honesty and curiosity above zero-sum divisiveness helps make these discussions rise above.
posted by squirrel at 10:30 AM on July 17, 2003


IJR... no I'm not saying that anyone was/is wrong. And I do believe that an organized guerilla resistence is possible. I was just responding to troutfishing silly comment at the beginning of this thread.
posted by Witty at 10:34 AM on July 17, 2003


Witty:
Fair enough. I still don't know if he was saying that the US military is behind the times, tough. I think it would be accurate to say that Defense's civillian ledership was out of touch with military planners. Certainly, they knew to expect guerilla combat.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:51 AM on July 17, 2003


>The fact that NPR is not put under such scrutiny or considered biased only shows the general leaning of metafilter.

Can we put away the right/left BS for one minute to at least consider that perhaps, perhaps Fox News is not exactly the National Review?

I still take issue that Fox is not conservative as much as it is sensationlist and nationalist.

Also, I would also say that NPR does not have a unified editorial front like Fox does. So if one commentator on NPR says there are WMDs that pose a threat to the US and another doesn't (which I've both heard on NPR) then what is there exactly to scrutinize other than the validity of each claim?

Going back on topic, there's a difference between "falling" for a trap and assuming you can handle it and the losses. I doubt the pentagon is so fargone that they wouldn't have seen this coming, but its up to the CIC to decide whether to send troops there considering the danger.
posted by skallas at 12:28 PM on July 17, 2003


You're right. I hate those personal attacks.
posted by jpoulos at 9:33 AM PST on July 17


Jpoulos, you have to be kidding me.

When I said consider the source, I simply meant that I've seen how stavros acts when someone disagrees with him. I've seen him use childish rhetoric before, so I'm not surprised.

What did I say to warrent what he said? I stated an opinion he disagreed with. That's it.

Please read the thread in context instead of pulling one thing I said out of the thread. (I know it's easy to forget, but context is very important)

For once, put away your little us/them blinders.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 6:39 PM on July 17, 2003


For once, put away your little us/them blinders.

What an embarrassing thing to have said.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:11 PM on July 17, 2003


ha ha!
posted by jpoulos at 7:27 PM on July 17, 2003


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