by Jim Lobe
(IPS) WASHINGTON --
U.S. military strategists are refining their plans for invading Iraq, the configuration of a post-war Iraq remains a matter of hot debate within the administration of President George W. Bush.
The dispute breaks along lines that have become very familiar to those who have followed the administration's foreign policy since Bush first took office.
On one side are the neo-conservative and unilateralist hawks in and around the offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who have key allies strategically placed in the National Security Council and the State Department.
On the other side are the more internationalist realpolitikers led by Secretary of State Colin Powell and senior career officers in the foreign service, the CIA and the military itself. They are aided by former top officials in the administration (1989-1993) of past president George H.W. Bush.
On Wednesday, the so-called realists unveiled their vision of a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, one that differs completely with the neo-con plan.
The two groups have tangled repeatedly -- from the Kyoto Protocol and North Korea to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, of course, Iraq -- over the past two years.
They fought hard over whether to go to the United Nations Security Council before launching an invasion, and even over how to attack Iraq.
The hawks, who opposed the UN route, initially favored an invasion plan that called for U.S. Special Forces, working with local militias in Kurdistan and other "liberated" parts of Iraq, to direct U.S. air power against strategic targets. That would, they argued, cause the collapse of the Hussein government in much the same way that the Taliban was defeated in Afghanistan.
As insurance, the plan called for some 70,000 U.S. troops to stand by, ready to intervene if the going got tough.
This strategy was scorned by the realists, and especially by the military brass, who found it not only hopelessly optimistic, but potentially disastrous.
Ret. Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, Powell's Mideast adviser who served in the late 1990s as the commander of U.S. Central Command, which includes the Gulf region, even refers to it as the "Bay of Goats." Consistent with the so-called Powell Doctrine, the dissenters called for mustering hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and major weapons systems for a full-scale invasion that would completely overwhelm defending forces.
By the end of last summer, a compromise was struck in which the realists got the better of the bargain, just as they did in September when Bush went to the United Nations.
While air power and Special Forces will still be given major roles in an attack, Washington will deploy only about 1,000 U.S.-trained Iraqis, who will mainly act as guides, translators, and military police. Added to these forces will be between 200,000 and 250,000 U.S. troops in Kuwait and possibly Turkey, most of whom will be part of the invasion force.
While the army and marine corps are still arguing for more reinforcements, the general battle plan has been agreed upon.
But not the configuration of a post-invasion Iraq, over which the factions remain at war.
The neo-conservatives in Rumsfeld's and Cheney's office see the invasion of Iraq as the first step in a profound transformation of the Arab world. They have argued for establishing a U.S. military occupation similar to that which followed World War II in Germany and Japan.
Indeed, a seminar held just this week by the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which has increasingly taken on the role of policy think-tank for the Pentagon hawks, was devoted to how to carry out a 'de-Baathification' of Iraq, just as the U.S. carried out a 'de-Nazification' of Germany almost 60 years ago.
The Baath Party heads Iraq's government.
The hawks see as their main partner in this enterprise one particular opposition leader, the head of the exiled Iraqi National Congress (INC), Ahmed Chalabi, a long-standing friend of both Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and the chairman of the Defense Policy Board (DPB), Richard Perle, who is based at AEI.
They have also favored establishing a provisional government headed by Chalabi once the invasion gets underway. And they reject a major role for the United Nations in administering Iraq.
Finally, the same group has pushed for the United States to take control of Iraqi oil fields and installations after the war, both to protect and rehabilitate them, but also to pay for the invasion and occupation and gain control of an important share of the world market in order to undermine the Arab-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The realpolitikers, on the other hand, think these plans are as dangerous as the hawks' initial ideas about a military campaign. Their rebuttal was laid out in the new study by a 25-member task force released here Wednesday by the influential Council on Foreign Relations and the James Baker III Institute for Public Policy, named for Bush Senior's secretary of state.
Headed by Edward Djerejian and Frank Wisner, two retired foreign service officers who held top diplomatic positions under Bush Senior, the task force rejected virtually every key position pushed by the hawks.
Offering what it called "guiding principles" for a post-conflict Iraq, the study called for the creation of a "short-term, international and UN-supervised Iraqi administration ... with an eye toward the earliest possible reintroduction of full indigenous Iraqi rule" in full control of its oil sector.
"The continued public discussion of a U.S. military government along the lines of post-war Japan or Germany is unhelpful," the 28-page report said, stressing that "it will be important to resist the temptation, advanced in various quarters, to establish a provisional government in advance of hostilities or to impose a post-conflict government, especially one dominated by exiled Iraqi opposition leaders."
"There has been a great deal of wishful thinking about Iraqi oil, including a widespread belief that oil revenues will help defray war costs and the expense of rebuilding the Iraqi state and economy," the report continued, concluding that those views are not realistic given the current state of Iraq's oil sector.
"A heavy American hand will only convince [Iraqis], and the rest of the world, that the operation was undertaken for imperialist, rather than disarmament reasons," it said. "It is in America's interest to discourage such misperceptions."
In order to stabilize the region after the invasion, Washington should immediately "re-engage actively and directly" with the other members of the Quartet -- Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- in support of the road map leading to a viable and independent Palestinian state by 2005, it added.
Failing such steps, "the United States may lose the peace, even if it wins the war," warned the report.
December 19 2002 (http://albionmonitor.net) All Rights Reserved. Contact email@example.com for permission to use in any format.
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