October 31, 2003


Analysis: Rumors of war (Claude Salhani, 10/30/03, UPI)

According to correspondents in Iraq, rumors are currently circulating around Baghdad that a major terrorist offensive against the U.S.-led coalition is imminent and could take place as early as this weekend.

Word has it that the armed resistance put up mainly by "foreign fighters" and remnants of the Iraqi Baath regime, are preparing "something big." The latter, the United States now believes, is being directed by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, vice-chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council and one-time deputy commander of the Iraqi armed forces. Al-Douri, a former army general who rose to the highest ranks of the ruling Baath Party, was a long-time confidant of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. His daughter was married to Saddam's son, Uday, who was killed last July.

In the months leading up to the invasion, Saddam and his associates had ample time to prepare for the U.S. assault, to stockpile weapons, money and plans for the post-invasion period. [...]

But back to the rumors of the "Ramadan offensive." In more specific terms, word on the street has it that a Tet-like assault is about to take place with hundreds of armed insurgents attacking one of Saddam's palaces, the one where the U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, is headquartered, secured behind concrete walls, concertina wire, and Abram M1-A1 tanks and heavy machine guns.

The "Flypaper Theory" has always seemed dubious, mostly because you'd like to think that evil masterminds aren't complete idiots and won't replicate the disaster that was Tet for the Vietcong (morons, after all, shouldn't have been able to kill 3,000 of our fellow citizens). However, the purveyors of terror have acted stupidly pretty much every chance they've had, so, while this rumor seems too good to be true, we can at least hope. One good Tet-offensive would likely conclude the after-war period.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 31, 2003 11:08 AM

But only if we respond with greater ferocity.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 31, 2003 12:23 PM

That was the point of Tet--we're really good at killing, but quite bad at finding, guerillas.

Posted by: OJ at October 31, 2003 12:37 PM

We used to be pretty good at both.

Posted by: Chris at October 31, 2003 1:07 PM

Mr. Judd;

I fail to see why you think that the organizers (who were agents of the North Vietnamese government) of the Tet Offensive were stupid. In fact, they were brilliant. They achieved two major goals which effectively won the war for them:

1) They inflicted significan casualties on US forces at a time when they could use it for a massive propaganda victory.
2) They eliminated the Viet Cong so that when the North finally won there was no local opposition.

In effect, they destroyed one enemy to defeat another. Sounds straight out of Sun Tzu to me. This attack may well be out of the same playbook, where the organizers are quite willing to expend the Jihadis in Iraq for either victory (unlikely, but possible) or propaganda (likely). If they all get killed, there's plenty more where they came from.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 31, 2003 1:58 PM

The war was effectively won for the South at that point because it was no longer an indigenous guerilla war but a traditional war between the nation of the North and the nation of the South. Over the next couple of years that war too was essentially won for the South. Only Watergate brought an end to the conflict on the North's terms and even then the South, abandoned by its only ally, acquited itself reasonably well. Mere bombing, which we'd promised, of Northern supply routes might have deferred the South's collapse indefinitely.

Posted by: OJ at October 31, 2003 2:27 PM

Bahgdad is awash with rumors. This means nothing.

There won't be any large scale offensive like Tet, carbombings and shootings work much better.

Posted by: Amos at October 31, 2003 3:48 PM

AQ made a statement that they're going to deliver the final(?) blow to America over Ramadan.

Posted by: Sandy P. at October 31, 2003 8:10 PM