In another of a growing series of comments by US military officials about how dangerous it will be if they indeed withdraw from Iraq, as required by treaty, in 2011, Brigadier General Jeffrey Buchanan warned that Iraq will be totally vulnerable to air attacks throughout 2012 and possibly beyond.
“There will be a gap in their capability that they would need to have a complete conventional defensive capability,” warned Buchanan. At issue is that Iraq has no warplanes, with the US having destroyed them all in the lead up to the 2003 occupation.
Iraq is currently in talks with the US to acquire several F-16 fighter planes, but the earlier these would be available to them is in 2013. It could be well beyond this date before Iraq actually has a functioning air force.
But the question remains, and perhaps it could’ve been asked before Iraq started trying to buy billions of dollars in US warplanes, of whether they really need them. The talk of dominating their own air space aside, the claims of “air attack” seem silly, as no one seems particularly keen on bombing Iraq right now, and indeed none have been since the US stopped doing so in 2003 and marched ground troops in.
In the Middle East it seems, increasingly, buying a gaudy number of advanced warplanes from the US is a sign of national prestige, which poses another problem: Iraq probably couldn’t afford to field the ridiculously oversized air force it would need to guarantee air superiority in the region. The expense, then, seems mostly about giving the US one less thing excuse not to end the war.