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Monday, March 10, 2003
On the Turkish election, three questions, one comment.

Question number one: Will the election (and, I suppose, the rather dramatic market reaction to the prior vote) make any difference in a new vote in Parliament concerning the use of Turkish soil to launch an attack on Iraq from the north? My guess: Probably. The original vote was decided by the abstainers (the rules apparently treating an abstention as half a vote for and half a vote against by requiring that the measure pass by a majority of those present, rather than a majority of those voting). Even without anyone changing their pro or con vote, having just a couple of the abstainers also abstain from attending the session would change the outcome.

Question number two: Assuming that there is a different outcome, will that different outcome occur in time to be of any use to the US? My guess: Probably in time to be of at least limited use. First, we would not be talking about it with Turkey if it were already too late. And we are talking about it with Turkey.

Second, March 18 appears to be the date on which hostilities will commence, regardless of the outcome of the kabuki dance at the Security Council. The air campaign will be shorter than it was in Gulf War I, due to several factors. There are fewer targets, we have better bombs and missiles and we can deliver them quicker. Additionally, we have Special Forces in place within Iraq to (I suspect) a much larger extent than we did in 1991. So my guess (and it is a guess) is that there will be a few days, maybe a week of action from the air before the major ground assault from Kuwait. That puts the ground assault around March 25. Since the new moon is April 1, maybe the March 25 jump off should be revised to that date, with two weeks of activity primarily from the air prior to the major ground offensive. That would give the Army three weeks from today to get the troops off the transports, into position and organized to go into Iraq from the north. My guess is that's just barely enough, and it assumes that the vote is held today, which is unlikely in the extreme. While I would assume that are benefits to a simultaneous attack from both north and south, I don't know that the costs of starting a northern offensive other than simultaneously with the action in the south would be excessive. So its possible that there will be a northern front, just not one commenced simultaneously with the assault from Kuwait.

Question three: Assume that the Turkish Parliament changes its collective mind. 3A: If we don't base an invasion from Turkey, do we still provide the $30 billion? Not a guess, but a desire: Absolutely not. 3B: If we do base an invasion from Turkey, but later, and either smaller or less effective, do we still provide the $30 billion? Again, not a guess but a desire: Money, yes.but less than $30 billion.

Observation: The total of $30 billion has some unfortunate connotations.
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