Saddam: Delusion or Miscalculation?

The New York Times reports on a Pentagon study of Iraqi war preparations, based on interviews of captured Iraqi officers. The Times says the study found that:

A complacent Saddam Hussein was so convinced that war would be averted or that America would mount only a limited bombing campaign that he deployed the Iraqi military to crush domestic uprisings rather than defend against a ground invasion. Mr. Hussein believed that a “casualty averse” White House would order a bombing campaign that Iraq could withstand.
A bombing campaign could “be absorbed,” leaving the government in control, Iraqi officials said during their interrogations.

The Times concludes from this that Saddam’s regime was “disconnected from reality in peace and in war,” and by its overconfidence “guaranteed its own destruction.”
Well, yes, as it turned out. But only because George W. Bush was in the White House. Was it really “disconnected from reality” to believe that the U.S. would be too casualty-averse to invade, and would instead launch an ineffective bombing campaign that Saddam’s regime could survive? On the contrary: everything in Saddam’s experience supported that calculation. By the time of the invasion, regime change in Iraq had been the official policy of the U.S. government for five years, and Saddam had seen nothing more threatening than a few incoming missiles. Why would things be any different now?
Saddam may have failed to understand the differences between our political parties, but his view of America’s lack of resolve was hardly delusional. Indeed, can anyone doubt that if John Kerry had been President, Saddam’s assessment of America’s intentions would have proved to be correct?


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