Iraq the New Way of War
The folks at Izvestia speculate that the Coalition victory in Iraq did not so much demonstrate a "New Way of War," made possible by precision guided munitions and real-time command and control, so much as use of a very old trick, that of buying out the leadership. This article suggested that the US cut a deal with Saddam Hussein such that he and his buddies could get out of the country alive if he agreed to arrange it so that the Iraqi military fell apart quickly. The majority of the captured leaders from the most-wanted deck have been sixes and eights, not face cards, and certainly not the old Ace of Spades himself. The authors also suggest that a similar deal was made with bin Laden.
A very intresting theory, but I doubt it's true. Why wouldn't Saddam Hussein accept a deal before the war started? Surely there were very attractive offers on the table during the 48 hour countdown, why risk getting killed in an actual war just to save face. He could have accepted exile someplace and the set about frittering away his stockpile of plundered cash on beer and hookers. I can't believe he cut a deal to spare Iraq a real battle. He could have easily spared them all combat by accepting a pre-war deal. Not to mention, Saddam Hussein clearly didn't give a rat's ass about his people.
Bin Laden was clearly in it for the glory, which would be tarnished if word got it he was in cahoots with Bush. I think he really expected the US to quit and go home after a handful of US casualties. They underestimated the American resolve. Al-Qaeda was hoping for Mogadishu 1993, instead they got Berlin 1945.
So why does this matter to the Russians? A Washington Post editorial on 5/2 suggests that President Putin is encountering difficulties in his attempts to reform the Russian military. Perhaps many Russians don't want to believe that the US military is capable of destroying Iraq's military in three weeks, while the Russians have been trying to subdue Chechnya for almost ten years. If the American victories can be explained away by dirty-dealing, then the Russians don't look so bad by comparison.