Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Friday, March 28, 2003

British historian Anthony Beevor says that Baghdad will not become Stalingrad on the Tigris.

Mr Beevor, author of the definitive and much-lauded account of the siege, Stalingrad, said yesterday: "Saddam is obsessed by Stalin ... He would love to see Baghdad as a Stalingrad on the Tigris."

But to Mr Beevor, the chances of history repeating itself are slim. "Saddam is imitating Stalin ... but it does not appear the battle for Baghdad will follow the patterns of Stalingrad. There may be a brief siege, but it won't be a battle lasting five months. And there is no chance of the Republican Guard encircling the attackers in the way the Red Army encircled the Germans."

But the similarities are mounting. At Stalingrad, the Red Army turned fire on their own, killing an entire division to make their comrades fight. Saddam Hussein's militias are widely reported to have fired on their own people in Basra and are known to have, at the very least, intimidated conscripted soldiers to fight.

But Mr Beevor does not believe the comparisons go much further. "The Iraqi Army is most definitely not the Red Army. The regular Iraqi Army and the Republican Guards' training is ultra-conventional. All they can do is defend fixed positions."

He also points out that:

it would be "idiotic" to predict how long the conflict would last. "There are many dangers ahead," he said.

< email | 3/28/2003 09:04:00 PM | link

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