The war that is

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It takes a newspaper elsewhere in the world to highlight the slowly escalating Iraqi war that is, while everyone here focuses on the war that may be. The first piece below from the British paper, The Independent, discusses what’s actually been going on in the no-fly zones, where American and British planes turn out to have been anything but reactive, and speculates about what we’ve been doing covertly in the Kurdish territories and even Western Iraq. While “incidents” in the no-fly zones are individually covered here and the raids mentioned below were also in the news, no one bothers to put together these incidents which turn out to be anything but disparate into a war plan.

I’ve been holding the second piece, an op-ed from the LA Times, for a week. I found it sobering on preparations for urban warfare in Iraq. A key sentence: “The name of the mock enemy city used to train soldiers [for urban warfare in Iraq] is ‘Shughart-Gordon,’ in honor of two Rangers who won the Medal of Honor — posthumously — in Somalia.” Memories of Hue and Mogadishu are why the military’s so anxious, though what no one bothers to mention when “defeat” in Somalia comes up is that, as in so many colonial wars of the past, even in “victory” the casualty figures always prove horrendously lopsided, as they will in what won’t be victory for the Iraqis. In the Mogadishu battle upwards of 1,000 Somalis evidently died. Tom

The secret war

Behind public preparations for an invasion, British and American aircraft are destroying Iraq’s air defences while covert groups of special forces are training Kurdish fighters and preparing equipment.
By Raymond Whitaker, November 24, 2002, The Independent

British and American warplanes are attacking Iraq’s air defences almost daily, and making practice runs on other targets. US special forces are reported to be on the ground in western and northern Iraq, and military engineers are preparing and upgrading airfields in the Kurdish zone. In many ways, the war on Iraq has already begun.

This war is a good deal more secret than the very public preparations being made by the US and its allies for an invasion of Iraq. No attempt has been made to conceal the build-up of forces in the region, with the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group in the Gulf and four more groups en route or preparing to sail. Enough equipment for an armoured division is already in Kuwait, and more is on the high seas.

In Kuwait, 2,200 Marines are conducting a month-long amphibious exercise called Eager Mace ’02. 

Prepare for an urban nightmare

War against Iraq could lead to a heavy toll both there and here.
By James P. Pinkerton, November 19 2002, Los Angeles Times
James P. Pinkerton writes a column for Newsday in New York.

The conventional wisdom in Washington holds that an attack on Iraq is coming soon. But the reality of urban warfare in the Middle East — the Israelis learned a bloody lesson Friday — suggests that maybe the United States won’t be “good to go” as soon as most have thought.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), seemed to let the cat out of the bag Nov. 12. Asked by a Washington Post reporter about the status of homeland security, he answered that terrorist cells were still ready to strike, adding: “There will be hell to pay if we don’t use the next 60 days to do everything in our power to dismantle their capability.”