WAS " SHOCK AND AWE " INTENDED AS A COUP D'ETAT ?
There is much commentary in the blogosphere about Bush administration failure to anticipate the difficulties of occupying Iraq. Certainly, the critics have a point since the occupation was clearly bungled from the start - the Jay Garner " what, me administrator ? "fiasco; the failure to occupy the WMD sites; the widespread looting, the failure to round up the goons of the SSO, Mukhabarat and Feydayeen Saddam. All this however is mystifying in light of the otherwise excellent military planning for the offensive or the skill by which the administration moved the Congress to vote for war.
I was re-reading an old article from September
when it struck me - what if the entire intention of " Shock and Awe " was not an invasion but a coup ? Here is a key point the media has overlooked, seemingly minor but in retrospect very strange:
"The former defense minister, Gen. Sultan Hashim Ahmad (search), gave up to Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Brigade (search) and the senior U.S. officer in the north, at the U.S. headquarters in Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad.
Dawood Bagistani (search), the Kurdish mediator who arranged the surrender, said Ahmad was received with "with great respect" as part of a deal in which the Americans agreed to remove the ex-defense minister from their list of the 55 most-wanted regime figures. That means Ahmad would be released after he finishes questioning and would not face prolonged captivity or trial, Bagistani said
Could you imagine General Eisenhower telling Field Marshal Keitel that he was free to leave after a few questions ? $ 600 million dollars to search for WMD and Saddam's ex-Defense Minister is going to go home ???
What if the entire war plan was to surgically kill Saddam and his two psychopathic sons so a " moderate " Baathist like Defense Minister Sultan Ahmad could sieze power and welcome the coalition forces to help him manage a " transitional " regime to a democratic Iraq? Such a secret collaborator would of course, not dare to move unless he was certain that Saddam was dead and everyone else in Iraq knew that fact too. However once in power, heading a large armed organization such as the Army or security troops, an Iraqi collaborator would be in a position to help Coalition forces with keeping public order and guarding hundreds of suspect sites. It would have been in the self-interest of the collaborator to quickly crush the die-hard Saddamists before they became organized enough to retaliate. The chaos that ensued in the wake of Saddam's vanishing act would not have commenced.
If such a plan did indeed exist and had it worked out the strike would have been hailed as a brilliant success. The world would have indeed experienced both awe and shock at the results and relief that minimal harm was inflicted. However if a coup was the plan, the odds against it succeeding should have caused decision makers enough qualms that a " Plan B " option of invasion would provide for a more " robust " occupational force than we have since seen.
Something went wrong with the initial occupation of Iraq. Perhaps my speculation is merely that but I find it hard to believe that senior officials - men experienced from navigating the collapse of the Eastern bloc and the disintegration of Yugoslavia - simply decided to " wing " the occupation and see what happened.