Think tanks wrap-up VII

March 20, 2003 at 6:42 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- The UPI think tank wrap-up is a daily digest covering opinion pieces, reactions to recent news events and position statements released by various think tanks. This is the seventh of several wrap-ups for March 20.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies

WASHINGTON -- U.S. attacks Iraq: opening highlights rapid reaction to intelligence, Iraqi leadership likely rattled

CSIS analysts made the following statements regarding the opening stages of the war in Iraq:

-- Michèle Flournoy, senior adviser, CSIS International Security Program.

"This war did not begin as anticipated or planned. But the opening strike did demonstrate a meaningful change in the U.S. military's ability to respond quickly to take advantage of 'targets of opportunity' intelligence that must be acted upon within minutes or hours. This is one of the fruits of the ongoing process of transformation, and our ability to strike rapidly and with precision will only improve over time. That said, there are a number of wildcards that Saddam could play to complicate this war, so we can't yet assume that this will be 'a walk in the park' as some have claimed."

-- Daniel Benjamin, CSIS senior fellow.

"If the intelligence that prompted yesterday's attack was halfway solid -- and it is hard to imagine otherwise -- the strike could have a powerful effect on the Iraqi leadership even if it caused no casualties. The regime's top individuals would have to wonder if the United States targeted that particular location because of either a traitor in their midst or communications that were even more compromised than they knew. Whatever the case, these individuals are likely to be rattled and to have to invest more effort into their personal safety. That will make it harder for them to direct any war effort and complicate their communications. It could also sow suspicion among them, and cause them to make more mistakes."

-- Clark Murdock, senior fellow, CSIS International Security Program.

"Triggered by intelligence indicating that Saddam Hussein was meeting with his top leadership, the U.S. campaign opened with a small attack of cruise missiles and stealth fighters intended to decapitate the regime. It is too soon to tell how successful the strike was, although Saddam appears to have survived. The planned campaign will probably open this evening (early morning in Iraq) with a massive air attack, using 3,000 precision-guided munitions in the first 48 hours against a broad range of Iraqi military and leadership targets. Although Special Forces are already operating inside Iraq, largely in the north and west, large numbers of ground forces will probably not be introduced until the air campaign ebbs, perhaps on Saturday or Sunday early morning local time."

-- Laurence Rothenberg, CSIS fellow and director, Globalization 101 Project.

"The laws applying to the conduct of war are fairly straightforward. The tough questions arise in applying them to specific cases. Military commanders, lawyers, and Monday morning quarterbacks of all stripes will disagree about the legitimacy of decisions made by U.S. targeters. Inevitably, some people will accuse the United States of committing war crimes. I would not be surprised if there are certain nations and groups at this very moment planning to level charges against U.S. leaders in the International Criminal Court."

CSIS notes that these are the views of the individuals cited, not of CSIS, which does not take policy positions.

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