War in Iraq: Ghost of Stalingrad That Haunts Allied Military Planners; Dr Frank McDonough, Senior Lecturer in History at Liverpool John Moores University Considers the Allied Dilemma in a Fight for Baghdad

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), March 25, 2003 | Go to article overview

War in Iraq: Ghost of Stalingrad That Haunts Allied Military Planners; Dr Frank McDonough, Senior Lecturer in History at Liverpool John Moores University Considers the Allied Dilemma in a Fight for Baghdad


Byline: Dr Frank McDonough

WOULD the British and American armies be prepared to massacre Iraqi civilians?

This is one important question the military high command will have to consider as it prepares toattackBaghdad. Fighting in acity is a very different type of battle to that fought so far. The next stage is to surround Baghdad and start strategically bombing against armed forces and military installations.

However, this may not be as easy as it sounds.

In terms of equipment, the Americans could win this war easily, their weaponry is vastly superior to that of Sadam's army and if the Iraq is decided to deploy their armoured units outside the city then the allies would win easily.

However, if they retreat into Baghdad the victory would not be so easily won.

For the Allied forces, applying their superior weaponry inside the city would cause immense problems.

If you are going to attack a city you cannot use bombers and helicopters overhead because you will kill your own troops. It nullifies any technological advances.

And if Saddam's army were inside the city, to kill them you would have to massacre a huge amount of civilians.

For Hitler, that wasn't a problem. As a dictator, he did not worry about television reports, public opinion or democracy.

But would we obliterate Baghdad if the army retreats into the city? I don't think we could.

Our victory depends on Sadam's regime collapsing and the army surrendering. If this does not happen then we are faced with the problem of seizing Baghdad in a street-to-street fight. This would be dangerous and would result in the deaths of many civilians.

As the aim of the war is to liberate the people from a tyrannical regime, it is unlikely we could engage in a protracted street- by street battle which actually causes massive civilian casualties and disease amongst the civilian population. We would be more likely to have a pause from combat and reconsider our position.

The outcome of the war becomes a lot less clear when you have a rifle and are facing a similarlyarmedopponent.

The British army is trained for street fighting but, except for Northern Ireland, we have had little experience of it and the Americans have had virtually none.

We have seen it before. …

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