DONALD Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, has drawn up a
list of potential disasters awaiting British and American forces if the expected
invasion of Iraq goes wrong, it emerged yesterday. The five-page dossier warns
that Saddam Hussein may use chemical and biological weapons against attacking
troops - or turn them on his own people and blame it on the United States(White
Rumsfeld prepares the US for worst case
DONALD Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, has
drawn up a list of potential disasters awaiting British and American
forces if the expected invasion of Iraq goes wrong, it emerged
The five-page dossier warns that Saddam Hussein may use chemical and
biological weapons against attacking troops - or turn them on his own
people and blame it on the United States.
He may repeat his strategy from the Gulf war and blow up oilfields,
which the US plans to use to fund post-war rebuilding efforts in Iraq.
Saddam could also hide his weapons of mass destruction in mosques,
hospitals or cultural sites, and use ordinary Iraqis or captured foreign
journalists as human shields.
Mr Rumsfeld’s greatest fear is of a conflict stretching on for several
months, or even years, which would lead to increased casualties and
drain resources for fighting terrorism elsewhere. "The risks run
the gamut from concerns about some of the neighbouring states being
attacked, concerns about the use of weapons of mass destruction against
those states or against our forces in or out of Iraq," he told the
New York Times.
Mr Rumsfeld is said to keep the list in his desk drawer and constantly
updates it with suggestions from senior military commanders and George
Bush, the US president.
A senior White House official said the document showed that many
uncertainties remained even after months of studies and advance planning
for an attack. "We still do not know how US forces will be
received. Will it be cheers, jeers or shots? And the fact is, we won’t
know until we get there."
A major problem is expected to be stabilising and rebuilding the country
after an invasion.
Occupying forces will have to prevent a collapse in order amid expected
attempts at score-settling among bitter political and religious
rivalries that have been bottled up for years under Saddam’s rule.
Meanwhile, inspectors will have to hunt down suspected weapons stores
before the enemy can get its hands on them. "There is a lot to keep
us awake at night," one senior administration official told the New
The newspaper also speculated that the release of information about the
document was an attempt by the administration to prepare the US people
for a war that could result in more casualties and complications than
they currently think.
The paper quoted a presidential aide as saying that Mr Bush has to
prepare the country for "the very real possibility that this will
not look like Afghanistan".
While the attack on Afghanistan was swift, the situation in Iraq -
particularly the aftermath of the war and nation building - could be a
long and bloody affair.
Some experts have said that it could take as many as three years to
rebuild the country, with threats of ethnic and religious rivalry
putting US troops under threat.
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