Wednesday, April 23, 2003

It seems almost certain that some kind of deal was made between the Americans and the leaders of the Iraqi Republican Guard for the Republican Guard to retreat and disappear into Iraqi society (see here or here; and here or here; and here; and here). The Americans rather desperately needed to avoid a long summer door-to-door battle in Baghdad, which would have led to thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths and hundreds, if not thousands, of American deaths. The very real possibility existed that the Americans could have gotten completely bogged down in Baghdad, with the combination of American atrocities and American military casualties leading to the unthinkable possibility of an American withdrawal (i. e., defeat). On the other hand, the Republican Guard would have been completely destroyed in such a war, its leaders subjected to war crimes trials, and Baghdad largely destroyed, so the leaders of the Republican Guard had reason to do a deal as well. It is also possible that some American money changed hands, as it did prior to the American attack on Afghanistan, where the Americans tried to buy some of the local warlords, only to find that they wouldn't stay bought. It is interesting that the leader of the Republican Guard is not on the deck of cards of 'war criminals' being sought by the Americans (the stronger and less likely version of the theory was that the deal was done involving Saddam himself, who remains a CIA asset!). The complete disappearance of a large army that was well dug in and ready to fight, the failure of that army to destroy the bridges and roads before retreating, the failure of that army to use most of the equipment it had available, and the failure of the United States to try to destroy the retreating soldiers using their air power, all point to a deal (one of the main objections to the idea that a deal happened is the mistrust of the Iraqi leadership of the Americans due to the war crimes committed by the Americans to the retreating Iraqi troops during the Gulf War). The timing also points to a deal: the Americans faced considerable resistance until they reached Baghdad, where they paused, supposedly to rest and wait for reinforcements, but probably actually for the details of the deal to be worked out with the Republican Guard leaders. Then they entered Baghdad with no Republican Guard response. It is probable that the deal went higher than the Republican Guard leaders, as key ministries and facilities appear to have been completely emptied by the departing regime. If a deal was made, it puts the lie to all the analysis of the brilliant American military strategy. In fact, the American military strategy showed all the signs of leading to a complete disaster before the mysterious disappearance of the Iraqi forces. The Americans didn't win Iraq in battle - they bought it.