Colonel-General Valery Manilov thinks that the outcome of the war in Iraq is not obvious
This was said by the former first deputy chief of the Russian Headquarters, a member of the Federation Council, Colonel-General Valery Manilov. He is certain: if the American administration launches the ground operation, America's supremacy in arms and defense technologies will be brought to nothing with the Iraqi climate. Valery Manilov believes that the outcome of the war is not obvious at the moment.
What is the most probable way for the situation to develop during the first stage of the war?
First and foremost, one should say that nothing depends on the quantitative correlation of forces. Quality is much more important than quantity at the first stage of the war. It is an open secret that the USA is ready to use up-to-date arms during its operation in Iraq. At first, the USA will try to discourage the enemy with strategic facilities. I hope that Americans will exclude an opportunity to use mass destruction weapons. They will strike blows with their aviation and battleships that are concentrated around Iraq. They will also use missiles and heavy bombs. It goes without saying that bombings will result in numerous casualties, no matter how smart those bombs might be. Baghdad will have to respond with ABM systems that it has at its disposal. Long-distance blows are only a start. The USA will have to launch the ground operation, for it will not be possible for America to achieve its goals at a distance. If Turkey allows American troops to approach Iraq from its territory, the ground blow will be struck from the north, which is controlled by Kurds, and from the south, from the direction of Kuwait. The start of the operation will depend on the US intelligence – on the information that it will provide about the results of air strikes. However, I believe that it will not be possible for the United States to conduct a fast operation. I think that the offensive will stumble on account of climate, geography, demography and other factors.
I think that American arms will be deprived of their qualitative predominance under Iraqi conditions. Abrams tanks, for example, are equipped with turbines, which go out of order in case of a sand storm. Laser and electronic facilities will turn to a pile of rubbish on account of dust storms and smoke from burning oil terminals. This will be the time for another kind of logic: direct shots, direct visibility, human eyesight and courage. The USA’s qualitative advantage will be brought to nothing with local Iraqi conditions. American and British troops might face the danger of losing a lot of their military men.
What can you say about those losses?
As American officials say that themselves, every three of ten US soldiers might die. This means that the losses might make up 63 thousand people from 211 thousand. There might be even more victims, for the Iraqi army is rather determined. To crown it all, the war will not have a political or diplomatic cover. If Bush launches the war without the UN approval, the whole world will think of America as of an aggressor. It will be an aggression against another state – a member of the United Nations Organization.
Do you think that the war in Iraq will seriously complicate the issue of USA’s security?
I would not like to talk about that. If the war starts, it would be correct to expect that an attacked state would do something against aggressor’s allies. Iraq might attack Israel and other USA’s allies by means of terrorist acts, subversive activities, not to mention armed clashes. Do you know the number of fanatic Muslims? One is not supposed to underestimate the consequences that such subversive activities might have for the American leadership.
In other words, you mean that the operation will last long?
Speaking about strategic and military issues, the military part of the operation might become rather short. It is not ruled out that Iraq’s resistance will be broken at the expense of huge losses. This variant is rather possible to happen. It is already known that ten million of Iraqi people will be left without any water as a result of air strikes. This was said by the UN. How long will Iraqi people manage to live? Three or four days? How many refugees will there be, not to mention casualties? Iraqi regime will be crushed, Saddam will be forced to leave for the sake of his nation. Then the post-war process will start. Here is another variant. The American blitzkrieg will fail, and Americans will refuse from conducting the ground operation further on. If it happens, other Iraq disarmament projects will come into effect. Russian and French officials currently talk about those projects. In other words, the problem will be settled within the framework of the United Nations.
Don’t you think that this is not likely to happen?
The operation might turn to a long war either way. That war will be accompanied with the humanitarian disaster. It will be like a spit in the face of the world community. We have to do our best in order not to let the war start. This is a very hard case to deal with both for the US, for Iraq and for the whole community, including Russia, Britain, France, China – permanent UN Security Council members. The system of post-WWII international relations is being trampled on. This is the beginning of the new stage, and it is impossible to predict its consequences.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov