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IRAQI WAR USHERS IN ASYMMETRIC WARFARE

20 Mar 03. The run up to the declaration of war by President Bush and subsequent public reaction has come under considerable scrutiny. The public reaction to the unprovoked attack by the US coalition on Iraq may be explained as much by the lack of understanding by the public at large to the new threats faced to public safety by asymmetric warfare threats and the new methods required to deal with these threats.

We quote from ‘ASYMMETRICAL WARFARE’ by Roger Barnett, Brassey’s Inc., “The notion that the United States would not be attacked directly with military force became clear after the 191 Gulf War. There the U.S. battlefield superiority was so great that Saddam Hussein fought asymmetrically-taking hostages, using human shields, destroying the environment with oil spills and fires, co-locating military targets with religious shrines and other targets proscribed by the Laws of Armed Conflict. This gave rise to speculation about “asymmetrical warfare” among military and defence analysts, which broadly understood to encompass an adversary’s taking advantage of his strengths and his enemy’s weaknesses. The use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – especially chemical and biological devices – and terrorism were generally included in the asymmetrical warfare warrior’s arsenal. The reasoning was that enemies would be forced to use such nasty tactics because they clearly lose a fair fight on a conventional military field of battle. ……If deterrence was ineffective against WMD use, then one must consider the other possibilities, of which there are but three: capitulation, preemption, or protection.”

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