Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Parthian Shot

Andrew Sullivan has a long post on what American strategy should be in Iraq. In brief, he thinks America should withdraw and leave the mess to Iran and in that way, turn defeat into a victory of sorts. He begins his argument by laying out his premises. The first is that a America has been defeated in its attempts to create a democratic Iraq; the second that a civil war is already under way; that America can't stop it and neither can it take sides. First, he paints the face of defeat.


Many will call this a defeat. In many ways, it is. The attempt to remake the Middle East on our terms and on our own schedule has been revealed in retrospect as pure folly. The core goals of the Iraq war - to disarm Saddam and remove him from power - have been accomplished. Iraq is no longer a potential source of WMDs - just of suicide bombers and terrorists. Saddam is dead. It seems clear to me that the deep trauma of the Saddam years - an unimaginable hell to those of us who have experienced nothing like it - needs time to resolve itself. It may even need a civil war to resolve itself. ...

And that civil war is not only under way, it is unstoppable; plus, though he doesn't say it, it is not in America's interest to stop it. Therefore any plans to send a surge force to provide security for Baghdadis would not only be doomed to failure, but pointless. America would do well to get out of the crossfire and let Iran get sucked into the vortex.

The second and graver problem is that any such surge would, at any moment, require the U.S. to side with one of the factions in Iraq and so embroil us in the Shia-Sunni civil war that is spreading throughout the region. That strikes me as a terrible risk. We are already targeted by terrorists simply for our freedom. To be targeted for being pro-Shi'a or pro-Sunni would add another layer of risk to the American public. ...

My own view is that withdrawal might even have some beneficial consequences. It will force Iran and the Sunni powers to intervene either to foment war or to stymie it. It could well unleash turmoil in Iran, and give Tehran a huge headache that will give it an incentive to deal with the world at large. I do not believe that Ahmadinejad will regard al-Sadr as a stable partner. Crucially, withdrawal could change the narrative of this war. So far, the narrative has been the one scripted by bin Laden: Islam versus the West. Thanks to Zarqawi, the narrative could soon become: Islam against itself. That is the real struggle here, masked by Western enmeshment. By getting out of Iraq now - decisively, swiftly, and candidly - we could actually gain in the long war. At some point, the chaos could force Iran to the negotiating table for fear of the massive instability on its doorstep. So Iraq could become the key to Iran after all.

His solution: withdraw to Kurdistan and deal with the last man in Iraq standing. "But my view right now is that we should withdraw most combat troops by the middle of this year; and leave a remaining force in the Kurdish region and along the Iraq-Turkey border. Protecting the fledgling democracy in Kurdistan and reassuring Turkey should be our top priorities." With such a solution on offer, and victory actually lurking in the wings, Sullivan's obligatory hit-out at President Bush sits uneasily within the rest of his post.

The truth is: we have lost this battle, if not the war. I am still inclined to believe such a loss was avoidable. The amazing restraint of the Shia for so long, and the enthusiasm for elections, revealed the potential in Iraq for a breakthrough. But this president threw it away. There is no getting around this, I'm afraid. It is reality. And if we do not get out by June, I fear an even worse one.

To be fair, Sullivan's view of Iraq as the potential Middle Eastern democracy that the Administration's mistakes threw away has been echoed by a number of people, such as Richard Perle for example, in an interview with Vanity Fair. Perle casts the net of blame for Iraq wider than Sullivan, yet still leaves it squarely at the Presidents's doorstep.

According to Perle, who left the Defense Policy Board in 2004, this unfolding catastrophe has a central cause: devastating dysfunction within the administration of President George W. Bush. Perle says, "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.… At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible.… I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."

Perle goes so far as to say that, if he had his time over, he would not have advocated an invasion of Iraq: "I think if I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, 'Should we go into Iraq?,' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.' … I don't say that because I no longer believe that Saddam had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction, or that he was not in contact with terrorists. I believe those two premises were both correct. Could we have managed that threat by means other than a direct military intervention? Well, maybe we could have."

But fewer are as optimistic as Sullivan is about the benefits of standing back from the vantage of Kurdistan and watching the Sunni and Shia -- both within Iraq and from neighboring countries -- duke it out. The several obvious complications are:

  • Iran will soon have a nuclear bomb.
  • Sunni countries are now openly seeking their own nuclear capability to offset the device the Iranians will have soon.
  • Iran may rationally or irrationally pose a nuclear threat to Israel.

Note that these developments would have occurred nearly independently of Operation Iraqi Freedom. But let us continue the list of problems that must be managed if America were to stand back and watch the ongoing conflict.

  • Leaving the arena accepts the danger that Saudi Arabia and Iran may intervene in Iraq, with money at least, to support the Sunni and Shi'ite factions respectively, which, added to the face-off now taking place between the Sunni and the Shi'ite backed elements in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories has raised the specter of making the Iraqi sectarian conflict a regional affair.
  • Neither the Sunni nor the Shi'ite side is likely to show as much restraint as the American and it is not obvious that whichever power seizes control of Iraq will not be in solid control and be willing to deal with a landlocked American force in Kurdistan, dependent on road supplies from Turkey to maintain itself.

In short, Sullivan's prescription of a withdrawal as the route to a hidden victory is a wish without the obvious prospect of fulfillment. It would be nice if it happened, but in principle it would be the equivalent of what critics of the Administration have accused it of: toppling Saddam and hoping "something wonderful" would happen. Withdrawing from the card table with a losing hand in anticipation of returning to sweep the stakes later in the evening must depend on more than the hope that it will happen. The dilemma of Iraq was expressed in a conversation I recently had with a US officer. He was willing to grant -- even argue forcefully -- that the US had made many mistakes in Iraq but still maintained the consequences were nothing in comparison to a precipitous withdrawal. "We have a choice of evils," was the way he put it.

But some of the evil was rooted in American deficiencies which have not yet been redressed. Part of it was doctrinal. The US military was struggling to re-engineer itself to fight a war far different from the high-intensity battlefield it was designed for. Part of it was systemic. America could not mobilize all the elements of national power: the politics, information warfare, the development infrastructure -- that was needed to fight against a terrorist enemy. When Richard Perle spoke of Bush unable to come to grips with "the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty", I think it was in part a reflection of the ingrained bureaucratic agendas which were transported in untimely and deadly fashion, into the Middle Eastern battlefield.

Yet more to the point, those deficiencies will not be redressed by withdrawing to Kurdistan and watching from the sidelines. Any path to victory along the "choice of evils" must be one in which those structural deficiencies are redressed. Whatever America does from this point forward, it must acquire the language capabilities, information warfare capacity, be able to mobilize all sources of national power and create the structures necessary to win. Otherwise it will always re-enter the fray; have to face the Last Man Standing in Iraq, with exactly the same threadbare set of instruments it possessed in 2003. I would be guessing, but I have a hunch that much of the opposition within the professional military to withdrawing precipitately from Iraq stems from a realization among second and third tour veterans that they are learning -- and that they will throw it all away if they fold up the flags and go back to base. Groundhog Day is the ultimate quagmire.

Another way to recast the same premises that Sullivan advances is this: Accept the victory that is: "The core goals of the Iraq war - to disarm Saddam and remove him from power - have been accomplished. Iraq is no longer a potential source of WMDs - just of suicide bombers and terrorists. Saddam is dead." And credit that to Rumsfeld and Bush, but do not elide the defeats that were theirs and the challenges that are to come. The same men who beat Saddam also failed to plan for unintended consequence of unleashing the long-repressed Shi'ite grievances against the Sunnis. But instead of accepting that this problem is unmanageable it may be better to simply accept that America hasn't currently got the tools to face this challenge, and set about getting them.

Because sooner or later America needs better options than standing back . Standing back and letting Khomeini take over Iran, as Carter did; or letting Syria into Lebanon in exchange for support to drive Saddam Hussein out Kuwait, as the elder Bush has been accused of doing; or leaving Saddam in place at the end of Desert Storm while exhorting the Shi'a and Kurds to rise up; or maintaining an expensive naval and air blockade against Saddam as Clinton did. All those instances of standing back and operating from a distance have bought America no love and have led it "tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow" to this dusty place. No one should forget that Osama Bin Laden's stated motivation for attacking America arose from its presence in Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm and the No-Fly Zone patrols afterward. September 11 happened long before Operation Iraqi Freedom.

But more fundamentally, America has no hope of staying out of the civil war between Sunni and Shi'a. That has been raging and gathering momentum, not since Operation Iraqi Freedom, but from the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the founding of the Sunni counter-militance al-Qaeda in response. It was the fear of the Shi'ite crescent that fueled the decision to drive Saddam out of Kuwait but no further. It was that same fear that drove al-Qaeda to send Zarqawi to Iraq; that made him in the end decide to provoke a Shi'ite backlash as policy. Credit where credit is due. The carnage was Zarqawi's achievement and not Bush's. America will go on long after the term of George W. Bush has entered the rolls of history. Posterity will judge him as it will. But it will also judge the men and women who come after. They too will face the problems which George W. Bush tried, with greater or lesser success, to solve. And it will not be enough to say 'we gave up trying because George W. Bush messed it up so badly'. Reality accepts no such excuses. If America lacked the doctrine and the means to bring order and civility to the Middle East then it should set about acquiring them. Because the challenges will not go away. It must get what it needs. The translators, the cultural knowledge; the weapons systems, the training; the information strategems; the confidence. And whether it can obtain these from the vantage of Kurdistan is the essential question the advocates of withdrawal must ask themselves, for it will be asked of them.

60 Comments:

Blogger Wu Wei said...

Iran is helping both sides, Sunnis and Shiites, according to this article which is based on recently captured documents.

Link

1/03/2007 05:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would emphasize sovereignty for the Kurds. They've been the only stable entity in Iraq since the invasion, and have been quite well disposed to the US since the start of Operation Provide Comfort.

Iran won't like it, which is a good thing. Turkey won't like it, either, but they're an even worse ally to the US than France, so that's not a big concern, either.

Let the rest of Iraq divide into Saudi and Iranian camps and have at it.

1/03/2007 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

I disagree with everything Sullivan wrote. We won the war in Iraq, everything we set out to do, and there is a good possibility of a peaceful settlement and strong democracy fairly soon. Withdrawal is not the only alternative. We can stay in the war with the same goals we originally had, instead of expanding the war to include being the police force of Iraq ("security") and fighting their civil wars.

The number of troops is not the issue, IMO, but how we plan on fighting it.

1/03/2007 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Groundhog Day is the ultimate quagmire.

Wretchard, that is brilliant.

1/03/2007 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger Speller said...

"Sunni countries are now openly seeking their own nuclear capability to offset the device the Iranians will have soon."

Pakistan is 97% Muslim and 77% Sunni(Shi'a 20%). The Sunnis already have their bomb and Al-Qa'eda/Taliban have their training bases in Waziristan.

1/03/2007 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I think embedding less Coalition Forces enmasse with the IA is the logical way to break the back of corruption and lax security that endanger US forces. Nonetheless, we should be firming up crack Iraqi troops by vetting them under strict standards and pledges of support to the Iraqi republic. These smaller special operations qualified forces can work in concert with the US SOCOM as a vanguard of situational awareness and intelligence. The larger US forces should be garrisoned far from the range of pot shot mortar attacks and set up as fortified battalions capable of quick reaction and fire support of SOCOM missions. The rest of Coalition Forces should be vigorously patrolling the borders.

As far as security in Baghdad is concerned, it is clear that the enmeshed combating sects will not be effectively separated without a more distinct definition of the battle space. Baghdad is ripe for the ink spot method of counter-insurgency; it must be redistricted with specific Sunni, Shia, and mixed neighborhoods. The Sunni and Shia, once separated must know that they will be attacked with extreme prejudice if they don’t play nice. This will require that whole neighborhoods be uprooted but war is hell and the alternative is more indiscriminate death. Money can be spent on mixed population areas as a sort of upscale refugee zone and security can be invested on those non-combatants who are done with this war and want to get on with their lives.

1/03/2007 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

Andrew Sullivan is the classic paper tiger that Osama hopes America becomes.

OIF consumes less than 1% of the US GDP anually. It has cost 3000 servicemen lives - the least of any war. And it has succeeded in most of it's objectives. Yet American paper tigers declare it "lost".

Do you think Osama is right?

1/03/2007 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

And what happens when they come for us in the Kurdistan bases?

"Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster”
~William Tecumseh Sherman

"I guess every generation is doomed to fight its war...suffer the loss of the same old illusions, and learn the same old lessons on its own."

~Phillip Caputo

1/03/2007 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger johnCV said...

Sullivan said:
"The truth is: we have lost this battle, if not the war."

That is a perfect indication of how shallow his analysis of the entire subject is. It's pure emotion.
Leaving aside the immediate issue of the status in Iraq, the 'battle' is so much larger than just Iraq. It encompasses the islamic jihad against the entire West. Sullivan and his fellow hand-wringeres completely miss the disaster our civilization faces if we do indeed lose the 'war'. Iraq is only a single movement is what has been, and will continue to be, a very long opera.
The Left, simply refuses to believe that there are forces in the world who want us dead because of who we are and what we stand for. These forces can not be reasoned with, or negotiated with or appeased. The Left's default position is that our side is always wrong, therefore anything we do should be opposed - no futher thought necessary.

We won the first battle of Iraq and are now engaged in a separate and distinct battle to re-shape a violent, traumatiszed and backward part of the world. We may not be able to overcome the cultural, religious and social pressures that are dragging Iraq back into the middle ages ideology we are trying to extricate it from. But is is a fight we must press at any cost. To simply walk away as Sullivan advises would be wrong on so many fronts (most of which have been discussed ad. nauseum).
The Left has lost all sense of self confidence when it abandoned the concept of 'right' and 'wrong' and instead implemented it's relativistic set of standards. They will NEVER stand up and defend that which shields them the horrors of islamism because their basis for self defense has been voluntarily scrapped.
Thier 'advice' and 'analysis' is dangerous and malignant because it aids our mortal enemy.

1/03/2007 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

To the Left, retreating (redeploying) from Iraq is the solution because it tarnishes their enemies, the Right. For the Right, the retreat is not a matter of surrendering in Iraq, it is a matter of surrendering to the Left, which, Bush, always the uniter, has been inclined to all along. But if it comes down to retreat or sitting on our asses trying to be nice guys while Americans are shot to sh!t, I say GFO… Get the F’ Out! Else quit trying to be Mr. Nice guy and kick some ass even though we may not win any popularity contests. None more detestable than the unexalted seeking ephemeral praise.

1/03/2007 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

A still small voice seems to be thundering...

We have decided, as a civilization, to ignore the region, the people, and the culture of the Middle East for more than three decades. In fact, far more than three decades. But, three decades in which we have been the target of aggression by those peoples and that culture.

We must engage that culture culturally. While they do not have the means to destroy our civilization, globalization has provided them the means of disrupting us to the point we may eat our own. One way we destroy our own values and our own culture is to stand by in some form of Sitzkrieg and wait till we can defend ourselves only through the ‘Second Conjecture’ solution of genocide. Any information age total war will be a war of genocide. Imagine a weak President after 9/11. Imagine that Putin was not constrained (he must have been) after Beslan. While some may want a more forceful posture there is a balance – and once that tipping point is met and exceeded (since none know where it is to be found) than future generations will judge our actions.

The Left (the Peace Party) refuses the power of the kinetic influence. The Right (‘The Power Party’) often refuses the influence of soft power. Judgments have to be made and made soon. We are in for a long conflict that requires leadership and vision, or we are in for a short conflict that requires acceptance of genocide. Are we really at the point of promoting and accepting the second option? Is another thirty years of Sitzkrieg going to really change our options? In the end we really do have to dance to the same tune, eh…

That is history.

I pray history finds us informed, just, and victorious.

1/03/2007 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> Else quit trying to be Mr. Nice guy and kick some ass

That's the big question. Is Bush changing anything or just sending more troops?

Right now the violence in Baghdad comes from government-sponsored militias. Iraq doesn't need our help to have peace -- they just need to cease fire.

The Iraqis refuse to send troops to help us clear Baghdad. Are our additional troops also going to occupy terroritory alone while all Iraqis groups attack them?

The problem is the militias and the governments which support them. Is Bush going to do anything about that? Right now the Iraqi government won't let us do anything against al-Sadr. Will that change?

It's not black and white between withdraw or do exactly what Bush wants.

1/03/2007 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger GeorgeD said...

Andrew Sullivan shares the problem of all of his ilk. It is constancy. He is incapable of it. His arguements can only be understood in light of his character.

1/03/2007 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Georged...

The main trait of the Left is that they are:

Conflicted...

They are even proud of that part of their being. They refuse to make decisions and stick with them because there never is enough information to make said decistion. When new and potentially conflicting info arises all earlier decisions are mute. Only starting afresh is of value. That is why the modern left leads with polls. They wobble along without direction because there are far too many factors to act decisively in anything.

For the left: Can you provide a Presidential speech that is memoralbe? Let me qualify that... A speech in color - not black and white.

1/03/2007 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

WW,
I mentioned in an earlier post that I think the solution to Baghdad is separating the combatants, redistricting into zones, if you will. They’d be:

Shiia Zone (kill all Sunni’s)
Sunni Zone (Kill all Shiia)
Refugee Zone (Kill no one)
Death Zone (Kill everyone)

This would be the most peaceful way to achieve a disengagement of the civilians and the warring parties. The alternative is to let them slug it out in which the US can remain garrisoned out of harms way and the State Department can strongly condemn each escalating atrocity ala the UN and the Joos.

1/03/2007 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Abraham Lincoln changed generals in the Civil War. We changed tactics in World War II. President Reagan changed tactics when fighting the Cold War.

Yet anyone who suggests that George Bush change tactics is said to be "left" or "not getting it" (the war on terror).

Why is that? Why can't Bush act like other presidents? If everything he is doing is so obviously perfect, then everyone will agree with Bush once he explains it.

1/03/2007 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

The usual Sullivanian bollocks,the regime that bought thousands of little plastic keys and marched children through the minefields is not going to balk at ethnically cleansing the Sunni.
If Iran gains control of the Iraq oilfields and the port of Basra,it is game set and match in the Middle East,the bomb would simply be icing on the cake.

1/03/2007 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Bush has an attribute that is a fatal flaw. He has faith in god. Insha’Allah. Stability is a desirable attribute of a leader of a vast organization that takes more than a million man hours to implement a plan. Imagine a supertanker as a ship of state and trying to steer all over the map. The response of the system too greatly lags the inputs. That is why it is useful to let the military command in the field and the way to do this does not lend itself to legalistic rules of engagement. War favors the guerilla because warfare is fluid. Bush is loyal to his lieutenants and they, like Rumsfeld, have the loyalty of their subordinates. It offers no help when the Left bangs the drum, “admit mistakes!” though useful in senate hearings, counter-productive beyond our shores and it makes it even less likely that a Macarthur or a Patton will step into the breach. Nobody wants to be unpopular anymore.

1/03/2007 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Wu Wei,

Bush has changed tactics. During the truely kinetic effort when we drove through the country we did what we were designed to do. Our military wiped out the opposition with minimal civilian casualties.

We can do so again. But, why use ground forces. We can MOAB cities and population centers with pin point strikes. It wouldn't take any time, cost much, and we would be condemned and deplored by the UN and the EU - but who cares.

However, would our own accept that strategy. Personally, I would not.

The other option requires a bit of patience. It is an option built on ‘closing the gap’. That option requires tools that we do not have – but hopefully are building. Wretchard calls them out well, but I would recommend nuances. We need trusted translators. We need trusted American leaders. And we need folks in the State Department we can trust to promote basic modern ideals – and not act out a Sitzkrieg. President Bush is trying to mobilize America for the long conflict, but many of our leaders think Sitzkrieg is a viable strategy. They do not think we are at war – and they will not think we are at war even with a two million man Army. Sullivan is one pundit who thinks like this. Bush’s form of Semi-Colonialism keeps our forces in theater, allows us to learn the culture, and permits us to act kinetically when needed or culturally as required. It is time for USAID and the State Department. I hope he is purging the RealPolitic types. This is a change in tactics.

The main theater of war in the Global War on Terror is now in America. Bush is trying to win in our theater of operation when the opposition is either too inept or too skilled to challenge us here. This is a change in tactics.

My biggest concern is 2009 when we are likely to be led by some President who ran on some small and insignificant domestic platform. Will he/she be able to balance the ‘2nd Conjecture/Third Conjecture’ solution process.

1/03/2007 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Joshua Chamberlain said...

Why does everyone resist doing what Angelo Codevilla has advocated for 3.5 years now (and Westhawk advocates daily)? Give the Baghdad government free reign to do whatever they need to do to restore order without our constant interference and subversion. Then we allow Iraq to find it's own modus vivendi with Iran. Do we really think they'll become an Iranian satellite?

1/03/2007 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a bit confused...you imply that al-Qaeda was formed as a Sunni counterweight to the (Shi'ite) Islamic Revolution in Iran. You also imply that the same Shi'ite-Sunni tension caused al-Qaeda to send Zarqawi to Iraq.
Huh? It's very possible that I missed/misunderstood something but to the best of my knowledge, neither of these two statements are true.

1/03/2007 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our constant subversion and interference?

What indigenous processes have we subverted to our detriment?

1/03/2007 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston said...

Tarnsman: Thank you for the Sherman quote.
JohnCV is "right on" with his critique of Sullivan and the current situation. Sullivan is most wrong in believing the alleged "civil war" will tear the country apart. Let's take a step back. First, there is no civil war right now, nothing remotely approaching it. Second, the Shia and Sunni have been alternating between fighting and living with each other for 1,000 years. They're not going to launch a full-scale civil war, but neither will they be smiling together like the "Small World" ride at Disneyland. Due to the common interest in oil revenue, they'll work it out. And they don't need us there to teach them how to do it. The government just needs us at a few bases (Al Asad and Balad, for example) for air strikes in case a militia force tries a large-scale strike. Short of that, the back-and-forth killings are really not a threat to a central government. A nuisance, yes, but the Iraqis will generally go along to get along. We'll see a de facto partition of the country (Sunni Arab west, Kurd north, Shia Arab east) but they'll cooperate with each other. Sullivan is wrong to think that one faction or other will try to take it all. They know, historically, it can't be done, and the "will to win" isn't there except among religious radicals. The common people have lots of intermarriage and friendships and day-to-day concerns that insulate them from "civil war fever."
We've bought enough time for the Iraqis. A planned drawdown, starting today, will work out.

1/03/2007 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger still realizing said...

The only reason we care about the governments and situation in Iraq and Iran is that their oil revenue gives them the means to create a useful war machine. Both nations, under any government, need to sell their oil at the market price in order to survive.

But the problem for us is what they do with their oil money. Both Saddam and the Ayatollahs used their money for military purposes and against the US national interest.

So the solution is to separate the governments from the oil revenue while keeping the oil pumping. In other words, seize the oil fields. This would be much easier than installing governments of our choosing, which is essentially seizing the populace. Just guard the oil fields and the pipelines, and any necessary refineries. Then move out the local people and bring in friendlies. The area around the oil zone becomes a free-fire zone. This may seem harsh, but it will result in fewer deaths than the current policy.

1/03/2007 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Boghie said...

"One way we destroy our own values and our own culture is to stand by in some form of Sitzkrieg and wait till we can defend ourselves only through the ‘Second Conjecture’ solution of genocide. Any information age total war will be a war of genocide."

I agree totally. That is our mortal peril. We could easily annihilate this enemy (Islamic Fascism) through nuclear genocide but by doing so we would destroy our own values through our becoming born-again Nazis. Unfortunately I believe we have passed a historical branch point. The last US election was decisive. Mainly through the skilled connivance of the MSM and liberal cynics, President Bush's political coin has been exhausted. Moonbats (Pelosi) now run the House of Representatives. All we (the political realists) can do now is ride the roller coaster and hope for a miracle. Maybe a savior will appear in 2008 but I'm more inclined to believe the economy will fold this year and Hillary or Obama will win by default. The cascade following that is unpleasant to imagine.

1/03/2007 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

eggplant wrote: We could easily annihilate this enemy (Islamic Fascism) through nuclear genocide

Nothing could be further from the truth. One of the problems of the Mutually Assured Destruction cold-war policy, is that people do not have an accurate view of the capability of the nuclear weapon. Why? Partially because they were only used twice on a small scale and partially because our government duped us into fore-going civil defense (just die instead). Sometimes we think that Nukes are the ultimate-end-all weapons that we can count on to trump all forces. Not so.

Aside from the fantasy of of Super-Duper-Nuker, we forget history. The single best way to rapidly spread Islamic fascism would be to attack Islam. The 1.2 - 1.5 billion Muslims would become a very big, very focussed force.

1/03/2007 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Lord Acton said...

Eggplant,

Bush Derangement Syndrome will run its course over the next 2 years. He will be gone, and the problems confronting the world will remain. The center-left can only follow the syren call of the loony left so far before reality smacks 'dem up side 'da head. My prediction is that the center left developes solid anti-jihad credentials just like they were stalwart anti-commies in the cold war (a la Truman).

1/03/2007 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Link

Supposedly the article above has leaked information about the Bush's new Iraq plan to be announced next week.

It seems to simply be more of the same. Try a third time to pacify Baghdad, but this time with 20k more US troops. More Iraqi reconstruction money. Keep trying to get Maliki to crack down on Militias, and keep trying to get a "moderate" Iraqi coalition to take over their government. Keep pushing the Shiites and Sunnis to make peace. According to Republican Senators over the weekend, Bush didn't contact them about this plan, which is the same approach he usually takes.

1/03/2007 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Lord Acton said...

As an add on thought, Communism had appeal to the naive ( used to be one). One can see how jihad might appeal to the lunatic left fringe, but very hard to see it having any real appeal to moderates. I.E. I think jihad will have a much smaller base of fellow travellors than communism. The MSM distortions are based 100% on Bush/republican president hatred, not jihad-love...Should see a nice shift in MSM attitude as the dems get some power, esp. if they get the white house.

1/03/2007 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

I think the opposite, that the over reaction to 9/11 will fade. our Islamic enemies will come to be treated like our other enemies.

Instead Islamic nuclear countries which want to destroy us like Iran will just be added to the list along with non-Islamic countries like China and Russia. The danger from the socialistic dictators in Latin America, some of which have ties to Iran, will come to be light. People will realize that not all the Islamic countries are allied to each other, like the Soviet Union and China weren't, so we can play off one against the other.

1/03/2007 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Lord Acton said...

"Communism had appeal to the naive ( used to be one). One can see how jihad might appeal to the lunatic left fringe, but very hard to see it having any real appeal to moderates. I.E. I think jihad will have a much smaller base of fellow travellors than communism."

I see moonbats as wind-up robots. They've been following a KGB originated command sequence that was programmed into them during the Cold War, i.e. they were supposed to surrender in-mass as soon as the Red Army started pouring through the Fulda Gap. Unfortunately the Soviet Union imploded before the surrender logic could be activated. Now the moonbats run around in circles awaiting new instructions. The Islamic Fascists are well aware of this and have tried to punch in the activation code. I suspect the fascists would have more luck if they wore Che Guevara barrets rather than turbans and chanted "Give peace a chance!" rather than "Allah Akbar!".

1/03/2007 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

There is another important question about "surging", whether committing the reserves in Iraq would leave us unable to fight other important battles. Like if we had a need to fight North Korea or Pakistan, which already have nukes, or to attack Iran. It sounds like we are nearing limits on number of people and on equipment & weapons.

I don't know the answer, but someone from the Bush adminisration needs to talk about it.

1/03/2007 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

dla said...

"One of the problems of the Mutually Assured Destruction cold-war policy, is that people do not have an accurate view of the capability of the nuclear weapon."

Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) has no relevance to our conflict with the Islamic Fascists. We will not have a repeat of the Soviet Union pointing 10,000 nuclear tipped ICBMs at us while we respond in kind. Instead the fascists will sneak into New York harbor a 50 megaton variation of the Tsar Bomba on the deck of a Liberian registered freighter. We'll lose New York first and then maybe Los Angeles. After that our Constitution will be suspended and the "Interim Crisis Commander" will replace the President (who will be under house arrest). The extermination of the Moslem world would follow shortly afterwards.

1/03/2007 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/03/2007 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> Instead the fascists will sneak into New York harbor a 50 megaton variation of the Tsar Bomba on the deck of a Liberian registered freighter.

If this is possible, then why can only Islamists do it? Couldn't a socialist or communist do it? Would it be easier for someone inside America, like Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City bombing)?

1/03/2007 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Dear Lord,
The loony Left is still pissing and moaning Reagan. They will blame Bush for the ills of the world until the end of time. Now as far as the Democrats getting resolve against the jihadi’s, it is a serious possibility. After the abandonment of conservative values by the present interlocutors I am ready to back any party that is willing to enforce our borders and quit pandering to foreign interests. The Bush administration is kissing up to the terrorist front CAIR because they are idiots and want to be loved by the enemies of humanity. Pelosi and the Democratic Party are at least circumspect in regards to CAIR. The problem is nobody will stand up for conservative principles, especially bleeding heart Leftist Liberals like the George Bush administration who stand for:

Open borders
Assimilation of radical Islam
Big government
Corporate Welfare
Medicare bribe money
Mexican voter mordita

Bush is a leftist mole who doesn’t believe in abortion therefore he is abhorred by the radical feminists and homosexuals.

1/03/2007 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Wu Wei said...

"If this is possible, then why can only Islamists do it? Couldn't a socialist or communist do it? Would it be easier for someone inside America, like Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City bombing)?"

As you know: Communism is logical and driven by well thought out ideology. Islamic fascism is not logical and driven by hate and religion. Timothy McVeigh would have done it if he had the plutonium and the expertise.

1/03/2007 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

There have been some interesting comments on this thread. It would be a comfort to know that someone in a position of power was reading these threads and being informed by them.

It is also an unfortunate reality that along with the wisdom there exists side by side utter madness that sounds interesting if you didn't know.

Which brings us to Mr. Sullivan! His goal is to validate his own homosexuality. All other things in his life crumple up and fall by the wayside. He is into pain and angst and fear and humiliation and all those who listen to him will suffer the same fate. The things he says are a distilled form of evil and the Bible warns us to be babes in this stuff.

America has won a tremendous victory in Iraq and with the judicial hanging of Saddam, in which trial he had total opportunity to justify himself and his murderous actions and failed, a great opportunity for calm and quiet has emerged in Iraq. Until he didn't die God was with him. Now he is disgraced. He didn't go down fighting; he surrendered with a weapon in his hand. His followers will now begin to remember his foolish decisions and how easily he could have placated the Americans and avoided all of what has recently come to pass. If the God of the American's is that much stronger than the God of Saddam then maybe they have greatly sinned and should now ally themselves with us. There could be a big rush to cozy up to George W. in Iraq. Let us look for it and encourage it.

Which brings us back to the "Info Wars". I don't know if the west, talk radio, the internet, bloggers all, are up to it. Pelosi and company are expert liars and totally fearless in their evil. Their tactic will be to wring the most humiliation possible from the Bush administration. (They havn't got a clue how to preside over this large and extended country.) Almost anything favorable that can be said about the Bush administration and especially about "W" should be said. Do not let a day go by without praising America, the American form of government, George Bush, his administration etc. Give him credit for the coming calm and praise him and all Islamies who look to him.Praise him for doing the right thing. Info Wars!

George makes mistakes but just think, did the left have any problem with Clinton's mistakes?

And the people who win political office may be good at winning elections but it may be a lot to ask them to be on top of every other matter before them. Let us help. Let us be a help to whatever administration is there. Overcome evil with good.

Happy New Year.

This conversation is on point and timely.

1/03/2007 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Lord Acton said...

Sparks Fly,

Amen. It kills me that everyone across the political spectrum is blaming 100% of this mess on the U.S. in general and GWB and his administration in particular.

It is impossible to stop determined suicide bombers who are preferentially targeting civilians. With a cadre of such suicide bombers and a shameless, immoral worldwide 24/7 media like we have, magnifying and glorifying the carnage, I could bring down ANY government in the world. Even the Putin-myster or the Chi-coms.

1/03/2007 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Whitehall said...

Why oh why is suddenly Iraq in such a mess that action must be taken ASAP?

The answer is concerted domestic political pressure tactics and not necessarily facts on the ground. The hubbub serves the Democratic Party and the MSM and not the interests of Americans or Iraqis.

"Stay the course" seems perfectly reasonable to me allowing for continual tactical adjustments by the commanders on the ground.

Its a war and we must keep fighting it. That includes Iran.

We do have the legal execution of Saddam as a victory. Let's keep winning.

1/03/2007 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> Why oh why is suddenly Iraq in such a mess that action must be taken ASAP?

Support for the war has been deteriorating for years. Bush can no longer ignore the problem because the anti-war Democratic Congress takes power tomorrow. Unless Bush does something, within a few months two-thirds of Congress could take charge of the war, including bringing troops home.

> Its a war and we must keep fighting it.

Polls show that lots of people doubt that. They think we won the war and no harm will come from leaving.

The reality is that Bush started this war with a 90% approval rating. He could bring the Republicans and moderates back to his side quickly, if he would only try. President Bush would just need to do the normal thing other politicians do, in fact the same thing Bush himself does when he is campaigning or trying to get Congress to support a tax cut.

Bush could consult with his supporters in Congress before making his decision. I am talking about the Republicans who have supported the war since day 1. Bush doesn't have to do everything they say, but he could at least pretend to listen.

Bush could answer the questions people have about the war. Just ignoring them, or repeating his 9/11 speech, or implying that anyone who dares to question him is an appeaser isn't good enough.

Bush could show humility. It is possible for someone to be open-minded, yet strongly believe they are correct. Not Bush though. He comes across as someone who is all ego, who won't even consider that he might have to make a small change in tactics because that would be admitting that he made a mistake.

The Bush Administration needs to try and win the propaganda war every day. The anti-war left and the media will try to attack Bush, the war, print negatives stories, etc. The Bush team can fight back by instantly answering the attacks, making their own attacks on the other side, and offering up their own stories about the war.

Bush can start acting like the President (instead of a spoiled politician). What happened to the guy who talked on the bull horn after 9/11?

1/03/2007 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger Whitehall said...

Dear Wu Wei,

Your short answer to my lamenting question is "opinion."

My response is, again, "stay the course."

I see the Democrats and the MSM setting the stage for surrender. By casting the situation as terrible beyond repair, they can then advocate surrender and defeat.

This is pure posturing and positioning.

It will require some serious politicking on Bush's part and that is not his strong suit.

1/03/2007 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> Give the Baghdad government free reign to do whatever they need to do to restore order without our constant interference and subversion

According to this Reuters article we will do that by the end of this year.

U.S. commanders in Iraq expect to have handed over full control of the country's security and armed forces to the Iraqi authorities by the end of this year, a U.S. general said on Wednesday.

Major General William Caldwell, a spokesman, also told a news conference that Iraq's military and police planned to buy hundreds of armored vehicles, as well as helicopters, under a $150 million agreement signed last month with the United States.

1/03/2007 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> This is pure posturing and positioning.

Was the loss of both Houses of Congress "posturing"?

According to conservative columnist Bob Novak 37 out of 49 Republican Senators oppose adding more troops in Iraq. That plus the Democrats is not only a majority, but the 2/3 required to override Bush's veto and make him do whatever Congress wants in the war.

Novak writes:

President Bush and McCain, the front-runner for the next presidential nomination, in pressing for a surge of 30,000 more troops, will have trouble finding support from more than 12 out of 49 Republican senators. "It's Alice in Wonderland," Sen. Chuck Hagel, second-ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, told me in describing the proposed surge. "I'm absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly."


Link

1/03/2007 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

First, to hell with Andrew Sullivan.

Second, Wu Wei -- your 6:23 a.m. comment was a good start but then you delivered a a quite curious comment that included this nugget: "The Bush Administration needs to try and win the propaganda war every day."

I shake my head in complete amazement at the insistence of people repeating this line of thinking, as if the administration is actively ignoring (for some unknown crazy reason) the propaganda war.

We Wei, how about a little (just a little) appreciation for the skill of our adversary -- the Iranians and the muckraking Russians? They wanted chaos in Iraq, and they only been able to achieve (contextually) a superficial level of it. Good enough for the punk ass surrender monkeys, to be sure, but not good enough to essentially stop the uneven march of American progress.

George W. Bush is primarily battling political and military factors not of his making, and doing so with in an environment infested with all too many actors possessed with far too much of equal parts hubris and impatience. The most perfect of American post-war plans executed absolutely perfectly would have us little-advanced beyond where we actually are at present.

That is the fact of the matter. Too bad Richard Perle and far too many others can't apparently comprehend that.

1/03/2007 07:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Sullivan doesn't address is the dangerous precedent that would be set if the US can be forced into defeat if the enemy just slaughters enough of the native civilian population. If that becomes the model for future wars, it's going to be a very ugly world.

1/03/2007 09:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another possible avenue

Right now, the military has marginal presence in the infosphere; Commanders issue a press release, and then rely upon the media to receive the release and disseminate it widely, and rely largely on the media to interpret the facts, resolve any amiguities, and to assign relevance to the press release.

The military is thus waging a proxy war in the infosphere, relying on the conventional media outlets to drive their narrative, despite the fact that these same entities have in recent times been proven to play loose with the facts, often to the detriment of the military's efforts.

If we are to be successful in "The Long War" it is past time for the military to establish a robust presence in the informational realm, and quit relying on fickle media proxies to drive the war's narrative.

AND so I ask once again, where are CENTCOM's Blogs?

1/03/2007 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

For several years Napoleon suffered from his “Spanish Ulcer” the conflict which gave us the term guerrilla warfare. Wellington, based in Portugal took advantage of Napoleon’s weakness for several years before finally pushing him out of Spain in 1812.

While on the Iberian Peninsula this was considered a British victory, on the scale of Europe it was a net loss for Britain because it freed up French troops for Napoleon to go on his Russian rampage (which ultimately destroyed him) in 1813. All Wellington actually accomplished by pushing France out of Spain was than he cured Napoleon’s Spanish ulcer.

Lawrence of Arabia was aware of this problem when he took on the Ottoman Empire during WWI. According to John Robb :

Lawrence's guerrilla campaign (for more on this read the fantastic book on Lawrence's strategy by Liddell Hart) against the Ottoman Turks was focused on the disruption the Turkish rail system. However, his approach did not seek the total collapse of the rail system. In Lawrence's view, it was more important to control the rate of flow on the rail system than to shut it down entirely. If he had shut down the rail system, the Turkish troops that depended on it for supplies would have been withdrawn (and would have been used to reinforce the front against the Brits in Sinai/Palestine). In contrast, by restricting its flow, the Turkish troops remained in place but didn't have the resources to do anything but remain in their garrisons. In essence, Lawrence used disruption to produce two desired effects (for more on this read the brief on effects-based operations): the paralysis of a large segment of the Turkish army and complete freedom of movement in 99% of Arabia.

In other words, Lawrence realized that it was in his interests to leave paralyzed Turkish troops in place rather than to evict them from the Arabian peninsula just to face them later in some other theatre of battle.

Please note that there is a more subtlety to military strategy than the NFL-smash mouth variety much bandied about in the US media.

In 2004, when the Mahdi Army started attacking our supply lines from Kuwait, the Shia showed unequivocally that they (combined with the Sunni insurgency) could boot us out of Iraq in short order. But for several years now they have refused to show us the door, the obvious question is why? In fact His Eminence Abdul-Aziz Al-Hakim, Leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an obvious agent of Tehran, just went to Washington to beg Bush to stay in Iraq and offered him oil contracts in the southern fields if Bush would promise to keep the US pinned down in Iraq for years to come.

At the same time Iran is on the rise, Hezbollah are the rock stars of the Islamic world after kicking Israel’s ass for a second time—this time in a conventional war. Iran is taking credit for this more aggressively (and with more justification) than Rahm Emmanuel is claiming responsibility for the Democratic victories last autumn. Hamas is on the rise in Palestine and suddenly Israel is sucking Fatah c*ck like a right wing congressman at an Eagle Scout camp. The Islamists in Somalia learned this week that if you want to grab power you deal with Egypt but if you want to regain and stay in power you talk to Tehran. Frustrated Islamic movements in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia will be tempted by Iranian aid as a large-scale region war looms over Iraq. At the same time the Iranian nuclear program is moving forward nicely and the US has no cards to play while 130,000 (and surging) troops are within easy reach of Iranian counterattacks.

The last thing Iran needs right now is the US freed from its Iraqi Ulcer. Tehran hardly wants the US to be able to exert power throughout the region again. In my opinion this is why the Iraqi Shia have not shown the door to the US just yet, nor are they likely to soon. That is why a gloating Hakim went to Washington, to rub it in Bush’s face that it is very much in Iran’s national security interest for the US to stayed mired in Iraq for as long as possible.

The US will not leave Iraq in 2007 if Iran has anything to say about it.

The question is what do we make of the agents of Tehran who pushed the US into this war and who continue to put Iranian interests above America’s interests by spouting and cheerleading the Iranian line of a long US occupation of Iraq? How can the US harness the power of informational warfare to silence the purveyors of the Iraqi Ulcer?

1/04/2007 02:17:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

The paragraph "Lawrence's guerrilla campaign .....99% of Arabia" is a quote and should be in italics.

1/04/2007 02:20:00 AM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

Substitute Stalinism in Greece, Mao T'se-tung's murderous Communist aggrandizement across the Yalu into Korea, for today's internecine Muslim conflicts, and you find a wistful, sadly familiar analogy with the final two years of Harry Truman's second term.

With his U.S. Steel initiative, pledged in fealty to George Meany's predatory AFL-CIO (merged slightly later), Truman fiddled with manipulated economics as Bush I did with taxaholic disincentives and Bush II just did in "raising the Minimum Wage" (read, unemployment for any small-business worker unwilling to cough up 15% of income in hock to Union syndicates and their Mafioso thuggeries). Why politicians are so uniformly clueless, if not actively ill-intentioned, when it comes to economics (we suspect the latter), is a mystery at this late date. "Payoff" best describes their motivation... except in Bush II's case, nothing any Republican does or says will ever --repeat, ever-- mollify collectivist Statists, corrupt Union bosses, one least whit.

Nonetheless, history counts Harry Truman, failed haberdasher, creature of a notorious political machine, among America's "near greats", and rightly so. But Truman had George Marshal, Douglas MacArthur, with Eisenhower at their side. George W. Bush has Rumsfeld (surely a master), a gaggle of military technicians, and... Wesley Clark?

Leftish demagogues, invariably of a defeatist if not overtly anti-American stripe --they go together, right, Al and John and ye olde Nancy-boys?-- hain't seen nuttin' once Iran plops nukes on Haifa, Red China ambles massive forces East across the Taiwan Strait. Betcha our puissant Intelligence Committee chairman couldn't even find Taiwan on the map.

For all George Bush's faults, he stands fast in good cause, for relative freedom and democracy in (of all places) Iraq. We read trendy-left complaints of Saddam Hussein's "brutal assassination" (!) and truly wonder-- does this man who fostered savage wars, hanged and mutilated preteens, who had doctors torn apart by wild dogs, merit anything but ghastly horror? Aside from extraordinarily vicious attacks worldwide, why does Saddam's doofus Sunni Muslimism not enter the equation?

Nancy et.al.-- when may we expect the first line of IEDs to annoy Beltway commuter traffic? And given your, ah, far-sighted and steadfast response to 9/11 (sigh), what credibility do you have in dealing with such dhimmi dislocations?

1/04/2007 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger RJ Schwarz said...

Surge. Marines take out Syria.

When the US hands occupied Syria over to the Syrian Kurds the Persians, Turks, and Iraqis will get the message and stop screwing around.

1/04/2007 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

President Reagan played the media like a violin. Some of them hate it, but they had no choice but to cover his stories.

The reality is that being biased to the left is only part of what makes the media the way they are. The media are also stupid, that's part of it. The third part though is that the media depend on ratings. They need to do whatever it takes to bring their ratings up, because that's what makes money for them, the money to pay their salaries and their electric bill.

For example, Reagan made news and won people's hearts by going to the Berlin Wall. The media had no choice but to cover it.

The media will always be biased, but things can be improved by hard work. Every day the headlines will either help the Left or Conservatives.

1/04/2007 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Wu Wei said...

"President Reagan played the media like a violin. Some of them hate it, but they had no choice but to cover his stories."

This is absolutely correct. I didn't like Ronald Reagan and still don't but he was a master at manipulating the MSM. Arguably, President Bush's greatest failing was his inability to manipulate the media like Reagan did. However very few Presidents (none?) had Reagan's media talent.

1/04/2007 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Extraneus said...

I think Bush should remember what happened when he sent the "stuck on stupid" guy down to New Orleans and find himself a charismatic general to send to Iraq. Even as one paying reasonably close attention, the last general I can actually remember is Tommy Franks, and I'd bet I'm not alone in that. This is a PR war as much as anything, and we have no PR.

1/04/2007 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger cjr said...

"Protecting the fledgling democracy in Kurdistan"

How quickly we forget. Does anyone remember what Kurdistan was like in the early '90s after the first Gulf War? It was just as fractional and violent as the rest of Iraq is today. (Remember 1993 when Saddam attacked one faction of Kurdistan with the support of another faction.) Yet today it is a peaceful, prosperous "fledgling democracy".

So why the difference between Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq today? Not because Kurdistan is any different that the rest of Iraq. Its because Kurdistan has had and extra 12 years to build its democracy.

1/04/2007 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

This is the point I was trying to make about Bush needing to talk with Congress.

Washington Post:
Particularly significant were comments on Fox News on Sunday by [Republican] Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the outgoing chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

He expressed skepticism -- but not outright opposition -- to the idea of expanding the U.S. military presence in Iraq. But his main plea was for the president to take the temperature of Congress, by meeting personally with the Foreign Relations Committee and consulting seriously with its members, before settling on a policy for Iraq.

"The president needs some well-informed friends," Lugar said pointedly, and he warned Bush that people such as himself will not be ready to defend his decision if he simply waits and declares it after private discussions of the kind he has been holding within his war Cabinet.


Link

1/04/2007 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston said...

Harrison asks "where are CENTCOM's blogs?" I was a staff officer at USTRANSCOM and some Marine Corps commands. Simply put, no one is willing to put anything out to the press until it's been staffed and staffed and staffed. Under those conditions, the military rarely keeps up with the news cycle. Plus, we rarely wanted to say anything that was controversial. Therefore, most of the time we didn't provide anything
"newsworthy." Generally we hoped the media wouldn't pay attention to what we were doing, and instead just talk about Britney and TomKat and the like.
This approach obviously has failed us during OIF. For example, during my last tour my boss was interviewed (at the insistence of the Commanding General) by the Philadelphia Enquirer about our HMMWV armoring program. She praised the Army for the help it provided to the USMC, but the only quotes the Enquirer used were regarding the improvements we had made (which they twisted into an implied criticism of the Army program). The true picture, applicable to all technological development, was that we were playing "leap frog" with the Marine Corps first fielding a bare-bones armor program, the Army fielding a much more protective armor system, then the USMC improving on the Army's system, et. cetera. The Enquirer could have published this story accurately and still provided a "newsworthy" article. Instead, the Enquirer conducted the typical media hatchet job. The MSM is determined to make the Armed Forces, President Bush, and anyone who gives a hoot about the U.S. and freedom look like a fool.
So, how do we fight the media war? The answer is for the Public Affairs Officers and Senior Leadership to quit thinking they can win the "hearts and minds" of the media. Indeed, we need to build our own full-fledged news networks, complete with direct counterattacks on any reporter or network or publication that consistently fails to provide fair and accurate reporting. And we need to cut off access, completely, to any unfriendly media. In response, we will inevitably encounter hostility, but it is already there, it'll just be more obvious.
Remarks regarding President Reagan apply: he knew how to only provide access to "friendlies" and how to mock his enemies.
I was trained by Vietnam veterans who knew that the Press was a treacherous bunch of weasels. One very positive outcome of this war, as sick as it may sound, is that another generation or 2 of military folks have re-learned that lesson. And in contrast to Vietnam, the Media have failed in their attempts to paint the military as baby-killers and incompetent fools, or to kill our morale. Today's warriors are not discouraged nor defeated, but sobered by OIF and Afghanistan.
Does anyone remember those commercials with servicemen walking through an airport, and civilians spontanteously clapping for them? This video was NOT about how America sees the troops, it is about how America (including the Lefties and Media) wish to see THEMSELVES. Thus the "we support the troops" lies. But now the troops know the truth. And while the military will never be fully savvy when it comes to media affairs, this truth should set them free from trying to "work with" the MSM. From the highest ranking general to the lowliest private, they now know that they must work against the MSM.

1/04/2007 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

"Facing Off Against al-Sadr"

Link

1/04/2007 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

evanston, thank you for responding, and I wholly agree with you. I'm just as disgusted and appalled at the blatant whitewashing antics of the MSM. There needs to be a parallel information network to counter the MSM on this. Fortunately, our troops aren't demoralised despite the barrage of gloom-and-doom news being churned out since who-knows-when.

You should take a look at this.

In the near term, the military needs to expedite its understanding of blogs and blogging. The public affairs sections of commands down to the Brigade combat team level should be required to assist their commanders at maintaining a presence in this medium (ie a blog!), and use it to shape perceptions and understanding of their operations, the environment they are working in, and the Service members themselves. The Combatant Commands (ie USCENTCOM) should have a well-developed information operations strategy which includes how to establish, employ, and synchronize blogs in a given theater of operations.

More needs to be done over time, however, to ensure that the military's personnel better understand the new medium and are more capable of having an effect within it. At intermediate and senior level service schools (ie the Command and General staff Colleges, War Colleges, et al) officers should receive robust instruction on information operations that includes the blogosphere and blogging. Specialty schools like the Advanced Military Studies Programs (SAMS), Naval Post-Graduate School, and the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict (SOLIC) program should be directed to produce monographs and theses on the subject as well. Between the graduate level research and actual experiences in the field, the military can then develop standing doctrine for operations within the blogosphere.

Hopefully these actions are set in motion sooner than later. The American military possesses the human and material capital to develop and maintain a serious capability in the blogosphere, impacting the understanding of the American public, the nation’s adversaries, and literally everyone in between. And yet, while the nation can project the lethality of an airborne brigade combat team anywhere in the world within eighteen hours, it has yet to deploy a single Soldier into the blogosphere.

1/04/2007 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Evanston said...

Harrison, Thank you for the link. I viewed a few Milblogs when I was in Iraq and wondered if/when someone would be put up on charges. Even if you're totally in sync with Senior Leadership on facts and opinion, they still (naturally) dislike having anyone type their own opinion. I'm retired now so feel a bit more free to do so. Ultimately the Public Affairs weenies, and as the article says, the war colleges, need to teach about Blogs. Believe it or not, each service will probably need to develop a manual before it's done. And that'll take years. Until then, only the PAOs, bold General Officers, and pseudonymous military folks will be able to safely use the medium.

1/05/2007 09:52:00 PM  

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