Yesterday evening I listened to Warwick University‘s Iraq “expert”, Toby Dodge, tell BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight that the Iraqi Governing Council’s choice for Prime Minister was “the worst one possible”. His argument seemed plausible and well-informed. Then I had a google into Dr Dodge’s past.
Here he is arguing that only offering to lift sanctions “would bring the Iraqi’s [sic] back to the [weapons inspection negotiations] table”. He begins that piece with a variant on the old favourite that journos wheel out when profiling Fidel Castro:
“How is it that two American Presidents have left the White House while President Saddam Hussein is still in power in Iraq?”
Just my wild, non-expert lob at the political theory dartboard, Toby, but it could have been because the USA is a democracy where there is a limit on the length of the presidency and Iraq was a dictatorship where opponents were fed to starving dogs. Anyway, it’s a bit academic now, since Saddam’s last public appearance was in front of the nit nurse.
“The US claims a war against Saddam would be quick. Wrong, says analyst Toby Dodge, the conflict could be long and bloody”
By March 2003, along with much of the rest of the punditocracy, the good doctor was playing the “Stalingrad” card:
by the time you get to where American forces are at the moment, on the outskirts of Baghdad, when you come across the better armed, the better trained, the highly-motivated troops of the Republican Guard and the Special Republican Guard, there’s going to be a hell of a fight…
“…I think with the United States itself, domestically facing a recession, with growing unease in the media about the war and with lots of body bags coming home, there’s a distinct chance that as soon as they get to Baghdad, they’ll pull out.”
To which the correct response is: “D’oh“.
Later in the same discussion, he shows that his “expertise” doesn’t just extend to the Iraqi armed forces:
“I think we’ll see American troops on the edge of Baghdad for as much as two or three weeks, while they bring in more troops, more heavy armour, and while they consolidate their hold on the rest of the country, and that’s bound to take a long time. Then after that, if there hadn’t been a coup, if there hasn’t been movement in Baghdad, they’ll try and move into the city…
“…So I think what we’re actually going to see is a slow and bloody war of attrition as US troops take the Iraqi suburbs, street by street, until they get to the centre of Baghdad. Now that, rather sadly, will kill thousands and thousands of Iraqis, maybe hundreds and hundreds of Americans, and will make Saddam look like the winner.”
Er, wrong again, Tobes.
The World Tonight: late and unlistened-to; where the desperate pundits go.