August 23, 1990 | Executive Memorandum on National Security and Defense
War IL The U.S. cannot afford militarily or politically to become bogged down in a protracted land war on the Arabian peninsula. Fighting to win. America's major advaitages in a war agains t Iraq are its air power and ability to strike deep inside Iraqi territory, including Baghdad. American, Israeli, and other intelligence sources have iden- tified most of these. If given the leeway, U.S. military commanders are likely to use air power bas e d on aircraft carriers and on the ground in Saudi Arabia and surrounding countries to achieve the following: Objective #1: Destroy the Iraqi Air Force on the ground and in the air. Also targeted for destruction should be Iraqi short-range ballistic Scud B missiles, which may be armed with chemical warheads, - ground-based anti-ship Silkwonn missiles, and the tiny Iraqi navy; these strikes would give the U.S. con- trol of the air and the sea. Objective #2: Annihilate key strategic targets in Iraq including c hemical weapon production plants, nuclear research facilities, and ballistic missile research facilities; this would destroy Iraq's capability to threaten its neighbors - and eventually the U.S. -with weapons of mass destruction. Objective #3: Target the I raqi civilian and military leadership, including Saddam. himself, until a leader comes to the fore who is willing to negotiate peace on U.S. terms. Objective #4: Strike key psychological targets, such as electrical generation plants serving Baghdad, to br i ng home to the Iraqi people the futility of Saddam's policies; avoid strikes against civilian targets, to press home that America's quarrel is with Saddam. and the Iraqi government, not the Iraqi people.71be air campaign against Iraq should not subside un t il Iraq has given in to U.S. demands. This may be enough to bring the Iraqi government to its knees, but if not, the U.S. then can focus the of- fensive on the Iraqi army. With Iraqi planes grounded, the Iraqi army is open to air attack by U.S. A- 10 Thun d erbolt ground-attack and other jets. Round-the-clock air attacks can cut off most fuel, food, and water to the Iraqi army in Kuwait, immobilizing Iraqi forces. If the Iraqis go on the offensive into Saudi Arabia, they will become even more vulnerable to a i r strikes as they leave defensive positions and spread out across the open desert. Counter-attacks by highly mobile Marine and Army forces at the flanks and rear of the Iraqi army in Kuwait, combined with actions to slow any Iraqi advances into Saudi Arab i a, should halt offensive Iraqi operations, and send the Iraqi army retreating to within its own borders. Stopping A Menace. America inevitably will pay a heavy price for war against Iraq. Even if the Pentagon is given free reign to fight as it sees fit, h u ndreds or even more than one thousand GIs still may lose their lives. As tragic, so will a number of U.S. hostages held by Iraq. Some countries may turn against the U.S. But these costs must be measured against the price of appeasement. Saddam. is a menac e . If he succeeds in his aggression, he will have demonstrated that America cannot protect its own interests and those of the West in the Middle East. He will emerge encouraged in his aggressive course, and stronger politically and militarily. He will cont i nue his programs to develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and the next time he strikes he could have missiles capable of attacking American cities with these weapons. He will continue his expansionist ways, controlling Kuwait, probably someda y Jordan as well, and he would exercise tremendous influence over Saudi Arabia. He will control much of the world's oil. And he surely will have split the Arab alliance against him, creating greater hostility in the Middle East against the U.S. and Israel, and making an Arab4sraeli War more likely. If he is not stopped, the price to America and its friends and allies will be tremendously greater'than the cost of war against Iraq today. So far, Bush has handled the crisis flawlessly. His decisive action has given him widespread public sup- port. If he proves as decisive in war, America can win quickly and bring its troops home in victory.
Kim R. Holmes Director of Foreign Policy and Defense Studies Jay P. Kosminsky Deputy Director of Defense Policy Studies}}