April 10, 2003
They're not just baffled
Russians generals, the Moscow Times reports are baffled by the quick Allied advance into Baghdad. I first saw this at Shoutin' Across the Pacific, and later it also appeared at The Command Post, again focusing on the bafflement of Russian generals. But that's not the most important information in that story. Here's a much more significant excerpt:
Last week it was disclosed that two retired three-star generals -- Vladislav Achalov (a former paratrooper and specialist in urban warfare) and Igor Maltsev (a specialist in air defense) -- visited Baghdad recently and were awarded medals by Hussein. The awards were handed out by Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Khashim Akhmed.
It was reported that the retired generals helped Hussein prepare a war plan to defeat the Americans. Achalov confirmed he was in Baghdad just before the war and received medals from Hussein for services rendered. He also told journalists that the defense of Baghdad was well organized, U.S. tanks would be burned if they enter the city and U.S. infantry would be slaughtered. According to Achalov, the only way the allies could ever take Baghdad and other Iraqi cities was to raze them to the ground by carpet bombing.
In other words, retired Russian generals have been actively helping our enemy. From the Russian government's perspective, this offers "plausible deniability" while still remaining chummy with Saddam. In a system that's as autocratic as today's Russia, it'd be surprising if the Putin government wasn't involved in this visit. If Putin had played his cards better, he could have come out the winner in the long-term (and I thought he would
). Siding with Saddam should have consequences, and there's a big juicy target waiting: Lukoil, the Russian oil company. It had signed a multi-billion dollar contract with Saddam for the development of the West Qurna oilfield. It's already trying to stake its claim
to that field even after the regime change, threatening to sue in international courts. I have no idea how strong their position is from a legal point of view, but pragmatically speaking they don't stand a chance. Play with dictators and suffer the consequences.
Posted by qsi at April 10, 2003 08:03 PM
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I don't know, the Red Army was awfully top-heavy, there is no way to keep track of the hordes of retired Generals. Maybe Putin didn't know about it after all.
As far as the legalities surrounding potential Lukoil efforts to enforce the contracts with Iraq, I expect that the contracts would have provided for international aribtration, rather than resorting to the court system in Iraq (such as it is). I suppose it is possible that the US or a successor Iraqi regime would consent to participate in such an arbitration, perhaps in order to show that the new regime is creditworthy and business-friendly.
If not, then the only recourse Lukoil would have would be essentially political, not legal. If Iraq has assets in Russia, the Russsian government might be persuaded to seize them for Lukoil. Similarly, if Iraq has bank accounts in Switzerland or some other non-coalition country, those assets could potentially be seized and turned over to Lukoil, if Lukoil can make a good enough case to the host government. I have no knowledge of the merits of their contractual claims, and the politics involved are anyone's guess.
The Russians, of course are famous for the reliability of their plans. Their military advice to Egypt was indispensable in Israel winning the 1973 war. That's the beauty of dictators - they never learn from their own, or anyone else's, mistakes. Having learned to always face down their enemies without flinching and avoiding compromise as the key to success, they eventually crash when their fantasies of invincibility conme up against the real thing, and they crash headlong into a brick wall.
Were these generals working for the CIA? If so, their ploy worked perfectly.
The Iraqis lost for the same reason as the Germans lost world war 2. Their airforce was finished! This has nothing to do with ideological claptrap. A dictator with a modern army will win look at Hitler till 1941. Greetings dutch chuck