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Stratfor War and Geo-Political Analyais (Don't miss this one!)
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Posted on 03/03/2003 6:29:57 AM PST by advocate10

Iraq, The War, and the next 5 years
An Analysis

This is a summary of a SSSB-organised Conference Call with Dr George Freeman,  Chief Intelligence Office of a Geo-Milito-Political Consultancy firm in the US, called Stratfor, which is based in Boston. The call is from earlier this week. The following analysis should not be taken to be the opinion of the summariser, nor the view of SSSB.

Executive Summary

Ø     This is a war which is definitively going to happen.  Ø     It will most likely commence between 27th February and March 2nd.  Ø     It will be over by mid-April.  Ø     Regime change is the objective.  Ø     The US is committed to a major military presence in the area for the foreseeable future.  Ø     The purpose of the war is to position the US in the heart of the region, so as to be able to bring to bear overwhelming pressure on surrounding States, so that they ruthlessly 'deal with'  the Al Quaeda network in their countries ... or else face the US.  Ø     Ultimately, Pakistan is on the US agenda.  Ø     India, as a consequence, is going to become a major US ally.  Ø     China will acquiesce, as will Russia, in return for US recognition of their respective rights to 'deal with' 'insurgency' as they see fit.  Ø     Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia are the biggest losers .... and Iraq.  Ø     The current international landscape is about to fundamentally change ... war will become a permanent feature of the next 5-10 years.     

Prospects for war: Converging with the 20 century mean

  The backdrop of Stratfor's analysis: 
We are re-entering 'normality',  and that the 1990s were a period of abnormality.
That stockmarkets have gone up and down during conflicts [Korea, Vietnam] and that war is neither extraordinary in terms of the 20th century, nor is it inherently bad for markets.
The Iraqi invasion itself is not about Al Quaeda being in Iraq.
Nor is it about oil.
The US is committed to a long-term presence in the region.

Ø      It is about Iraq being the single-most strategically placed country in the Middle-East ... having at its borders Syria, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Kuwait.

The US rationale

To date, the US has always been an outsider when it has come to dealing with issues in the Middle East, and as direct consequence it has always needed alliances ..... this will change, definitively, when it becomes the dominant and overwhelming military power in the region. The whole dynamic of the Middle East will shift as a consequence.

What is the purpose of the war?

Ø      The purpose is to redefine the geopolitics of the region, in order to be able to bring direct and unavoidable pressure upon countries who are intentionally, or by default, are allowing Al Quaeda to operate.

Ø      The driving logic is to create a new reality: that it is far worse not to co-operate with the US than it is to ignore Al Quaeda within their own countries, for fear of internal problems.

Nevertheless it is a scenario which these countries have recognised is increasingly likely to come to take place.

The opposition from Iran and Saudi Arabia has little to with Iraq, and everything to do with the wider implications of a long-term US presence in the Middle East.

Is it likely to take place?
War is a certainty [according to Stratfor]

Ø      The US administration is absolutely committed to going to war.

Ø      It does not want a UN 'government' in place.

The immediate upshot of war:

Ø      Syria will be surrounded by hostile countries [Turkey, US/Iraq, Israel]

Ø      US naval dominance will provide overwhelming reach.

Ø      Saudi Arabia will be surrounded by Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, US/Iraq, Qatar.

Ø      Iran will be flanked by US-supporting Afghanistan on its East, and in the West by the US/Iraq, Kuwait.

Fighting the war:

There are currently two opposing perceptions of the forthcoming war:

The US perception/assumption: The Iraqi army is incapable of fighting.  As the US command views the situation, the predominant supposition is that the regular Iraqi army collapsed when the US took it on in Kuwait. The assumption in 1991 was that US casualties would be high: the US establishment feels that they over-estimated the Iraqi army. As a result, the theme now is that the Iraqi regular army cannot fight. Stratfor states that this shows a strange schizophrenia , in that the public are encouraged to believe that great sophistication is being shown by the Iraqi subterfuge and deceptions regarding the mobile chemical bio-chemical weapons which are being moved about the country at the moment, whilst little competence is accorded/transferred to the army.

The Iraqi perception/assumption: Saddam Hussein believes that he will win. This is based on the premise that the US does not want to suffer high casualties, as evidenced in the 1990s by Somalia, Beirut, and the1991 war. Far from being a massive defeat for Iraq, Hussein/Iraq views the Gulf War as, at best, a draw, and at worst as being defeat for the US. Why? Because the perception is that, beside being ejected from Kuwait, when the US met the Iraqi Republican Guard, the US gave up and gave in. Thus, now Iraq believes that just so long as they can inflict high casualties upon the US early on, and then have an urban battle in Baghdad, that the US will revert to type, and that a UN-based ceasefire will come into acceptance.....and that Saddam Hussein and his regime will continue to survive.

So, we have two very different perceptions of the past, upon which the present is now predicated.

When will War begin?

Ø      Between February 27th and March 2nd.

Why then?

Ø      Because that, for the US, is the optimal period of the phases of the moon.

Ø      The US wishes to commence the attack in darkness. Night darkness favours the US, because Stealth bombers can only be picked up optically, and not by radar. Also, darkness will aid special forces going in under cover.

By when will it end?

      The most likely deadline for the resolution of the war, from the perspective of the US, is mid-April. This is because should Iraq decide to use Chemical weapons against the US, the above-85 degree temperature will render the anti-chemical suits virtually inoperable, with US fighting basically ineffective.

Ø      It cannot wait until mid-autumn because the US currently has six army divisions around Iraq ....the 'family jewels' have now been committed. A force with overwhelming battle-strike potential is now in place. There is no way it will be held there indefinitely. This war will, and has to be, fought to conclusion.

Is there a possible earlier start date?
Ø      Yes: If Iraqi troops in the North and South, near the oilfields, and around Baghdad, were suddenly to be moved, then it is very possible that bombardment would begin.

How will it be fought?

      First: Complete suppression of Iraqi air-defences, using cruise missiles,  Stealth bombers, and heavy strikes against all Iraqi  command centres.

Ø      Simultaneously, ground operations would begin early on.

Ø      From the South the US would advance into the oilfields rapidly, in order to prevent their destruction. The purpose of this is two-fold: to secure the oilfields, for future usage; and to secure the road infrastructure leading up to the region, which will be critical for the successful follow-up of troops and armour.

Ø      Also of paramount importance: of the six bridges which cross the Euphrates river, three must be taken intact by the US, or else critical time will be lost in re-bridging.

The First Military Objective:

Ø      The primary initial objective of the US forces is to seize the afore-mentioned bridges. Special forces will enter first, followed up by heavy armour.

Ø      Stratfor states that success is expected, due to the absolute excellence the US has at this sort of operation.

The Ultimate Military Objective:

      To take Baghdad and effect 'regime change'.

Ø      Easier said than done...

Ø      Taking a major capital is a scale of task hitherto unattempted in US military history, and indeed only attempted successfully on a few occasions worldwide [Berlin by the Soviet Union was successful, but Stalingrad and Leningrad both were too much for Germany].

If Iraq can fight effectively from the outset [contrary to the US assumption, in Stratfor's view] then there is a serious problem.

This will be a key point in the success of the overall campaign.

There are currently four brigades of the Republican Guard in Baghdad. The US has never yet encountered them in battle.

Ø      The key question is: Will the Republican Guard fight?

Ø      The importance of morale on this point, within Iraq, is crucial.

Ø       If the Republican Guard can fight the US to a standstill/standoff, then it will have achieved its aim.

Ø      The reality here is that no-one, not the US, and not even Saddam Hussein, knows the answer to this question for sure.

In purely military terms, there is no question that the US can take Baghdad: the question is, however, at what price?

The US cannot afford to be seen to be targeting civilians - something which was not an issue in either Berlin or Stalingrad in WW2.

Thus the US hope that there may be one of three outcomes in Baghdad:

That the Special Republican Guard decides not to fight.
That there is a coup within the Iraqi military high command and immediate surrender to the US.  This is not something which should be dismissed as a possibility - certainly their loyalty has in the past by no means been assured: viz. the periodic purges of the military elite during the 1990s.
The US manages to win the city without excessive civilian casualties.Take time to 

What does this successful US outcome do for geopolitical alliances in Europe?

Ø      That both Germany and France have made a major miscalculation.

Ø      The assumption that a united European response was not the natural corollary to the US position was wrong.

Ø      Too many European countries do not want a dominant Paris-Berlin coalition, according to Stratfor, for fear of 'generational domination'. Hence the support of the Iberian peninsula, most of Eastern Europe, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Of greater consequence is: What will happen to other states?

      Saudi Arabia will be in difficulties.

Ø      Syria will be under immense pressure in the future.

Ø      Iran will be faced with a far more immediate challenge to its internal structure.

Ø      India will benefit considerably both in terms of business and political relationships.

Ø      Why? Because, ultimately, after Iraq, dealing with Pakistan will the next overriding objective for the US.

The Oil Effect?

Ø      Stratfor assert that this is not about oil...

Ø      There will be a minimal effect on oil prices from the war.

Ø      The Venezuelan effect will have had a bigger impact.

Ø      There are already US contingency plans in play. The worst case situation is already in the price.

Ø      At worst, 1.5mil bpd will be off the market, but not permanently.

Wider implications of the Iraqi war

      War is going to be a permanent backdrop for the next 5-10 years.

Ø      There will be a de facto 'extension of an informal US empire'.

Ø      Markets, will have to learn to live it, and they will do so.

Ø      The Structural impact on the US economy will range between neutral to positive.

Ø      There will be 'considerably more friction between the US and other countries'.

Q &A Session in Conference Call

In 2003/4, post-Iraq, what priorities does the Bush administration have vis-à-vis the wider region?

Ø      The US view is that it cannot do anything about anti-Americanism.

Ø      It will not attempt to win the hearts and minds of people locally.

Ø      It will attempt to 'create a sense of fear and impotence' within the region.

Ø      It will ensure that nation states are more afraid of not cooperating with the US than simply ignoring terrorism within their own countries. 

Ø      This is where the Al Quaeda aspect will enter: the US will exert extremely heavy pressure on suspected countries, forcing them to deal with Al Quaeda effectively.

Ø      ... should cooperation be found wanting, the US will not baulk at launching covert operations and extreme pressure onto non-cooperating countries...

Why take this strategy?

Ø      Because the thinking is that Al Quaeda cannot afford to become a larger organisation, because  - the theory asserts - the larger it becomes, the less secure it becomes.

Ø      Structurally highly-secure growth of Al Quaeda is of greater concern to the US..

Impact/Implications for other countries

North Korea

Ø      North Korea, according to Stratfor, is little more than a side issue. It is merely playing the latest round in a decade-long game where it seeks to gain economic concessions from the US/Japan/South Korea in return for ratcheting down military rhetoric.

Ø      There is a 'qualitative difference' to the Korean threat; it is not likely that the US will get involved.


Ø      There have already been quiet talks between Washington and Moscow over Chechnya. There will be a change in US policy towards Chechnya, which will be the price of Russian co-operation.

Ø      The Russian administration will be 'very happy' with the new paradigm.

Ø      They do not care excessively about Iraq: they will settle for an increased market share in Oil.

Ø      Iran will choose to close down internal debate as it steps up its security levels.

Ø      Long-term, it knows it is in danger: the US-Iran issue will be a serious issue for the future.

Ø      There may well be considerable internal change further down the line.

Ø      France is not posturing for commercial reason, as some commentators are suggesting.

Ø      On the contrary, they have made a serious strategic miscalculation, and are now staring at an'abyss' in which they have alienated the US, and have caused considerable resentment within Europe for their current stance.

Ø      The German-French response to the US has as its overall purpose the creation of a European counterweight to US power.
Ø      The US, whilst 'absolutely committed to the survival of Israel', does not want to involved itself in the resolution of what it regards as an essentially, if not exclusively, internal issue.

Ø      The US would prefer to see a timely and equitable resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict; but the pressure it is likely to exert upon the Israeli administration will more probably focus on encouraging the Israeli administration to coming to an 'accommodation' with Hamas, with Arafat side-lined.


      China is 'delighted' with the new situation. Why?

Ø      Pre-9/11 the focus of US strategy had decisively shifted towards worsening US-China relations. Now, the entire focus has shifted away from Asia.

Ø      US needs china diplomatically.

Ø      ... but China is also worried by improved and strengthened [in the medium-term] US-India relations.

Ø      China also has its own internal issues - the price of cooperation with the US will be that the US does not interfere with its internal 'security issues'.

Ø      With poor US-China relations out of the way, there will be a new 'lease of life' towards improved commercial and political relations with the US.

Ø      India is going to be one of the main longer term beneficiaries of the new situation

Ø      Why? Because the US has decided that it has to deal with Pakistan's linkages to Al Quaeda, and its non-cooperation, hitherto, in dealing with terror cells which the US allege are being given the official 'blind eye'.

Ø      The US will be keen to develop commercial links to solidify this relationship

Will Nato survive?
Ø      Difficult to say: whilst it is not the remit of this discussion ...

Ø      Nato no longer has its ration d'etre [the Soviet Union]

Ø      The US does not want to involve itself with such a consensus-oriented institution.

Ø      Where consensus is so evidently lacking, the US does not want to reveal military plans and secrets to an essentially un-trusted organisation.

So what will emerge?
Ø      Whilst Nato may continue to exist in name, in effect a series of informal and formal alliances will [and indeed have] emerged in its place

Ø      For example: at the moment the Netherlands is supplying Kuwait with Patriot Missiles. Germany is supplying the Netherlands with these. This sort of accommodation will become the norm, as will a lack of formalisation of such alliances.

What are the key initial lead indicators of the possibility of  military success 7-10 days in?

      Are the six bridges over the Euphrates blown effectively by the Iraqi army?

Ø      If they are intact, then it will be assumed that the regular Iraqi army are ineffective.

Ø      Chemical weapons are most likely to be used in this area of the conflict.

Ø      Within the 1st 96 hrs there should be a good picture emerging of Iraqi morale.

What does Iraq/Hussein  want? Simply to survive through to mid-April?
Ø      Yes: Iraq wants to reach mid-April having inflicted thousands of casualties on the US, in the hope that this will erode US public opinion, forcing Bush to seek a UN ceasefire.

Ø      Iraq wants to make a big impact on the periphery of its borders early on, in order to shore up morale and support in the centre if Iraq, ie in Baghdad.

Is there going to be a major terrorist attack in the US during the next 6 weeks?
Ø      There will 'certainly be attempts'.

Ø      But ... Al Quaeda attacks when least expected: we know too little of their overall reach and capabilities to say anything else definitively.

What about the dangers posed by chemical weapons?
Ø      This is a key issue: one of the main reasons that the public is not being told of the whereabouts of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons is because what the US fears most is that Iraq learns how much is known about them, and that as a consequence they move and hide the weapons before the US can react.

Ø      The US will already have covert troops targeting the sites they know of, and will hope to take them out early on.

Ø      It is possible they might be used against Kuwait - it is likely against Turkey, and it is possible against Israel.

The Bigger Picture post-Iraq

      Stratfor assert that the current Iraqi situation should be seen as a 'campaign as part of a protracted wider war' which will last for 5-10 years, and which will, by default ,overwhelmingly dominate the international scene

Who will gain most?

      The high-tech sectors

Ø      China

Ø      Russia

Ø      India

Summariser's Thoughts:

Ø      Whilst I am in no way better qualified than anyone to opine upon this issue, I found the above analysis considerably more in depth than anything that I have come across within the UK media to date. To be sure, it is a hawkish view ... but what if it is also right?

Ø      The implications and potential consequences which are highlighted in this piece in particular have brought attention to China, Russia, and India. These may not be short-term 'beneficiaries -even if such a description were to be appropriate - but it is a thought, all the same. 

Ø      Consideration of the possibility that we may be about to enter a shift in geo-politics so significant that it bears comparison with 1945 and 1989 is also critical for understanding where we are going ... whatever one's views regarding the rights and wrongs therein.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: asia; iraq; stratfor; war; warlist
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1 posted on 03/03/2003 6:29:57 AM PST by advocate10
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To: advocate10
They already got the sart date WRONG.
2 posted on 03/03/2003 6:37:07 AM PST by BullDog108 (delinda est islam)
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To: advocate10
I disagree with the 'sideshow' labeling of North Korea.
If we don't stop their plutonium process in the next 3 months they will have mad enough to export untold number of dirty bomb material.
3 posted on 03/03/2003 6:37:41 AM PST by Semper Paratus
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To: BullDog108
Make that START date wrong.
4 posted on 03/03/2003 6:38:02 AM PST by BullDog108 (Preview? -- I don't use no stinkin' Preview!)
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To: advocate10
I agree with the general premise, that it isn't oil, but the strategic location that we need. Our being in possesion of Iraq is an effective check against our other enemies, who are legion.

I disagree with their take on China. US possesion of Iraq, puts them back on their heels. I believe we are in a world war, like it or not, and taking Iraq puts us in a strong position to start from.

Don't see Korea as a sideshow. There will be war on the Korean peninsula.

5 posted on 03/03/2003 6:44:22 AM PST by the
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To: BullDog108
I post them, I don't write them.
6 posted on 03/03/2003 6:50:11 AM PST by advocate10 (Color me tmid.)
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To: advocate10
I followed stratfor pretty closely during the kosovo war. They got it wrong. I don't remember all the details, but I remember my support for the Serbs and the inadequacy of the case against them.

Stratfor focused in the same area as I did...that's why I followed them. But they called it wrong.

Clinton did go in, he did defeat Yugoslavia, he did impose his will on Kosovo.
7 posted on 03/03/2003 7:00:32 AM PST by xzins (Babylon, you have been weighed in the balance and been found wanting!)
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To: BullDog108
I am forced to brag a little at this point.

When Desert Storm began, I was on active duty with the USAF stationed at the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver. We had the job of calling the selected reserve personnel to active duty.

I had no access to anything classified in this regard, but knowing that the reserve call-up was nearly complete, and playing with other factors, I predicted the date and hour of the attack on Baghdad many days in advance. (Actually, I was 40 minutes off because I did not factor in flight time from Riyadh to Baghdad.) So I really only predicted take off time.

It wasn't too difficult to consider: troops in place, the phases of the moon, Islamic holidays and a general hunch.

Anyway, I was watching Dan Blather at about 20:40 MST as the bombs started falling on Baghdad. I had predicted they would start at 20:00 MST.

8 posted on 03/03/2003 7:11:31 AM PST by advocate10 (Color me tmid.)
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To: the
With human nature as it is, there will always be some phase of a cold war somewhere.
9 posted on 03/03/2003 7:12:15 AM PST by stuartcr
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To: xzins
"I followed stratfor pretty closely during the kosovo war. They got it wrong. I don't remember all the details, but I remember my support for the Serbs and the inadequacy of the case against them. "

You remember correctly. Stratfor did miscalculate a lot of things about Kosovo.

10 posted on 03/03/2003 7:16:05 AM PST by advocate10 (Color me tmid.)
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To: advocate10
Stratfor is a group of very intelligent outsiders. It has the advantage that they think outside the box. They probably don't work with inside information or tips from the security agencies.

They have been pretty good, except in the case of the Afghan campaign, which they got completely and utterly wrong.

This analysis seems sensible to me on the whole. It's what Freepers have already been saying. EXCEPT, as already pointed out, that North Korea is probably miscalculating and going too far, as STRATFOR recognizes that France has, and there will probably be at least a strike to take out their nuclear reactors.

China is the great enigma. This will weaken them in some ways, because they were hoping to control events in central Asia through their ally, Pakistan. They were hoping to expand westward as well as into Formosa. Instead, the U.S. is moving into that region. It looks as if we will wind up holding TWO centers of control: in the Middle East oil region and in the Central Asian "great game" region. We are more likely to firm up in alliance with Russia than with China. China poses the greatest potential threat to our future, after militant Islam.
11 posted on 03/03/2003 7:23:07 AM PST by Cicero
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To: Semper Paratus
It may be worse than "dirty bomb material".

Iraq has the technology to make real nukes. All it is lacking is the plutonium.

Pakistan has the technology.

China is unreliable in what technology it will export.

North Korea may have the technology.

There is the real danger of actual nuke devices, not just dirty bombs.
12 posted on 03/03/2003 7:27:13 AM PST by sd-joe
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To: advocate10
Why? Because, ultimately, after Iraq, dealing with Pakistan will the next overriding objective for the US.

Hmmm...hence Pakistan's sudden cooperation? Hope they are sincere and not just trying to get off of the s**t list by turning over Mohammed.

13 posted on 03/03/2003 7:34:15 AM PST by ravingnutter
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To: advocate10
Fascinating post.
14 posted on 03/03/2003 7:36:29 AM PST by mondonico
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To: sd-joe
It may be worse than "dirty bomb material".

Yeah but the plutonium can get out sooner and easier.

15 posted on 03/03/2003 7:39:07 AM PST by Semper Paratus
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To: the
Stratfor's evaluation of Iran is pretty vague. The important question is whether, with Yanks to the left of them and Yanks to the right of them, the younger Iranians will have the resolve to overthrow the theocracy and establish a secular democracy.
16 posted on 03/03/2003 7:47:36 AM PST by We Happy Few ("we band of brothers; for he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother;")
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To: advocate10
Taking a major capital is a scale of task hitherto unattempted in US military history

Mexico City






Seoul (twice)

Kuwait City


17 posted on 03/03/2003 7:52:59 AM PST by Stefan Stackhouse
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To: *war_list; Ernest_at_the_Beach
18 posted on 03/03/2003 8:01:17 AM PST by Free the USA (Stooge for the Rich)
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To: advocate10
Stratfor did miscalculate a lot of things about Kosovo.

I believe Stratfor also predicted that the Taliban were going to be a tougher opponent than they turned out to be. OTOH, I'm concerned about Stratfor's assessment of the Korean situation. If they think that there is no real danger of war breaking out in Korea then we better get ready because rounds will probably be flying across the DMZ soon.

19 posted on 03/03/2003 8:14:13 AM PST by Norman Arbuthnot
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To: advocate10
Good analysis, but start date is blown.
20 posted on 03/03/2003 8:19:42 AM PST by finnman69 (!)
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