SalR323 (salr323) wrote,

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A little bit of politics...

My thoughts on the 'Stop the War' campaign have been mixed because, while I totally opposed the invasion of Iraq, I've always felt that we made the mess and now we should do what we can to clean it up.

This article, however, has gone a long way to changing my mind. It's a fairly complex piece, the gist of which is that the Bush administration is expecting the US military to deliver a conventional "victory" in Iraq, which it cannot do because any solution has to be political, and it's therefore setting the military up for failure (think Vietnam). At the same time, the US military are trained in conventional "kinetic" warfare, but not counterinsurgency, which means they lack the skills and experience to deal with the situation in Iraq. The article argues that the result of this is that the troops essentially overreact - it uses the alleged Haditha massacre as an example - and by doing so only stokes the insurgency further.

It's worth a read, because the argument is presented far more cogently by Sidney Blumenthal than by me!

The Bush way of war has been ahistorical and apolitical, and therefore warped strategically, putting absolute pressure on the military to provide an outcome it cannot provide -- "victory." From the start, Bush has placed the military at a disadvantage, and not only because he put the Army in the field in insufficient numbers, setting it upon a task it could not accomplish. U.S. troops are trained for conventional military operations, not counterinsurgency, which requires the utmost restraint in using force. The doctrinal fetish of counterterrorism substitutes for and frustrates counterinsurgency efforts...

As Bush's approach has stamped failure on the military, he insists ever more intensely on the inevitability of victory if only he stays the course. Ambiguity and flexibility, essential elements of any strategy for counterinsurgency, are his weak points. Bush may imagine a scene in which the insurgency is conclusively defeated, perhaps even a signing ceremony, as on the USS Missouri, or at least an acknowledgment, a scrap of paper, or perhaps the silence of the dead, all of them. But his infatuation with a purely military solution blinds him to how he thwarts his own intentions. Jeffrey Record, a prominent strategist at a U.S. military war college, told me: "Perhaps worse still, conventional wisdom is dangerously narcissistic. It completely ignores the enemy, assuming that what we do determines success or failure. It assumes that only the United States can defeat the United States, an outlook that set the United States up for failure in Vietnam and for surprise in Iraq."

Got me thinking, anyway...!
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