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By Dick Morris


February 26, 2003
Wednesday - 1:45 pm


American plans for invasion of Iraq look a lot more like a coup d'etat than a takeover of a nation. By aiming surgically at the leaders in Baghdad and isolating them from the rest of the military structure they command, Bush seeks to decapitate the Iraqi leadership rather than conquer the nation.

In a coup, regime opponents try to interdict the opposition's command and control structure, block communications with the population, and encourage enemy commanders to disobey orders and defect. It would appear that American plans for the invasion of Iraq quite closely parallel those that coup plotters would follow. In leaflets now being dropped on Iraq and e-mails to Iraqi commanders and scientists, U.S. psych-op troops seem to be doing their best to drive a wedge between Saddam and his men.

In the Gulf War of 1991 the American military engaged Iraqi troops seeking to break their hold over Kuwait. In the publicly reported invasion plans, United States troops are bypassing Iraq's regular army and attacking the Republican Guards only if they intervene on the outskirts of Baghdad.

By using aerial bombardment to disrupt the regime's communications with its minions and employing e-bombs to overload their computers, American strategists are enhancing their chances of killing or capturing Saddam without having to destroy all of Iraq. Even if Iraq's dictator escapes alive to hide out somewhere in a cave near Osama's, his regime will be toppled and the coup will have succeeded.

But this is a coup from outside the nation. To rally dissident military units and induce a rebellion, American troops must first penetrate Iraqi airspace and land on the ground. Reports that elite Delta Force units will be sent into the capital during the earliest phases of the invasion/coup reinforce the parallel between the invasion and a conventional coup d'etat.

International leftist propaganda about the likelihood of massive civilian casualties or the expense and difficulty of rebuilding a crippled Iraq nation do not take account of the subtlety of American military planning. The coup won't be bloodless, but it will not leave a scorched earth in its wake either. Iraq will not take years to rebuild. A regime will have fallen, not a country. International critics, now predicting massive civilian casualties, will be confounded when the Administration plans hold collateral damage to an absolute minimum.

The American plan, as it has been thus far revealed, reflect both wisdom and humility among American military planners. Rather than arrogantly assume that they must defeat Iraqi divisions in the field, they take direct aim at the weakest link: The control a dictator has over his military.

If these coup plans succeed, they will set an important precedent for future operations. Can Kim Jong II's control over his military be any better than Saddam Hussein's? Can any tyrant, ruling through secret police, survive a determined effort to get in between his leadership and his supposed followers.

The creativity of the Bush plans in Afghanistan - relying on the Northern Alliance to do the bulk of the fighting - and in Iraq - fomenting a coup d'etat with outside forces attests to the wisdom of American policy makers. Their combination of creativity and fortitude stand us all in good stead.

In Afghanistan, the Pentagon showed that it had learned the lesson of Vietnam - that Americans would not tolerate massive American casualties. Now they are incorporating the lessons of international politics in the media age to take major measures to hold down civilian casualties. Good for them.


Dick Morris has become a familiar figure as a commentator for the Fox News Channel. He writes weekly columns for the New York Post, The Hill Magazine in Washington D.C. and The National Post in Canada.

Copyright 2003 Dick Morris, Distributed by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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