Sunday, March 02, 2008

Roundup. The Patton of Iraq; Doubt as a weapon of war

After the Read More! The Patton of the counterinsurgency. If I die before you wake... will anything be worth remembering?


Frederic and Kimberley Kagan describe how General Raymond Odierno turned strategy into operations in Iraq. Kagan's article reminds of the adage "amateurs talk strategy, professionals discuss logistics."


A flash presentation asks an existential question: is what a soldier does for his country worth anything? Its a question everybody asks himself and people do more soul-searching than usual on the battlefield. But it occurred to me while watching it that the whole presentation was part of an ongoing national dialogue with what has been called the "antiwar movement". The real strategic objective of the antiwar protest movement has been entirely mental from its modern inception forty years ago. The amount of physical disruption it has inflicted is trivial: a few traffic jams and a lot of littering. All seemingly harmless and over after the streets were swept. But its real aim has always been deeper; to cumulatively to turn faith into doubt and pride into shame. To invert the myths of society. If it works well enough society accepts the process of inversion and finally even betrayal wears the mask of patriotism. In time many will believe that "if I die before you wake" you will have simply missed the sex and the socialist paradise and at any rate no one will care if you die because nothing you did was ever worthwhile.

In contrast to its weak physical effects the mental damage a weapon like this can cause is enormous. Physical weapons can destroy individuals. But only ideas can destroy civilizations. In the next two weeks a conference in Rome entitled "Can European Civilization Survive" will indirectly confirm the power of accumulated self-doubt. A Europe that has economically and technologically never been better fears the first stirrings of a something stirring in the hollowness within.





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23 Comments:

Blogger RWE said...

“….to cumulatively to turn faith into doubt and pride into shame. To invert the myths of society.”

Well said, and well summarized. The Vietnam Era protestors often wore parts of military uniforms. That was to make mock of the uniform, to show that anyone could don a piece of cloth, that it meant nothing.

And so, the very people who had defeated the Nazis as well as their ideological descendants became “Nazis” in the words of the ideological descendants of those who would have assured us that that mess in Europe was none of our business, - those who, in the words of George Orwell, were “objectively pro-fascist.”

And now, almost thirty years later, what do those protestors have to look back on? I can look back at those people who were threatening to splash my uniform with red paint and say “I was right and they were wrong.” At best they can say, however unconvincingly, “Communism would have collapsed anyway.”

And as for that flash presentation – that guy ought to be doing the opening act for Darryl Worley or Tim McGraw, at the very least.

3/02/2008 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Someday, largely due to the efforts of blogs like this one, the antiwar movement in America will be recognized as the polonium-210 poison pill date rape drug slipped into our drink by the Soviets before they went Tango Uniform.

The Soviet sypathizers have morphed into PC, multi-culti, environmentalist whacko tranzie peaceniks, but they haven't lost their hatred of Western Civilization and they collaborate with other haters to bring about its downfall.

Propaganda Redux

THE FOUR PILLARS OF THE SOCIALIST REVIVAL, AND THE RISE OF ISLAMOFASCISM

3/02/2008 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Aslam said...

It's so interesting how none of these powerful images (think US soldier ensuring Iraqi girls get to go to school unmolested) graces an MSM front page. But stories of Haditha, oh, those do.

Very interesting.

Almost as interesting as the death-spiral of MSM. Everytime I hear of layoffs and pain at the NYT or the LA Times (or insert your MSM favorite name here) I think to myself...it couldn't happen to more deserving folks.

3/02/2008 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

How to describe out time?

The words I can come up with are "I am at the ramp and the bow is on the beach".

Of course, I was a Marine once. I wonder how many other guys feel like they are standing in the door/putting the foot on the pedal/pushing the throttle through the stops?

I think things have to break before they will get better. There will not be room for the play actors on the stage that they have so willingly helped to set. They will be as char on a burning wind.

3/02/2008 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Insufficiently Sensitive said...

This Sunday summary of Belmont Club gives us more food for thought on critically important current events than a month's worth of New York Times.

And in "doubt as a weapon of war" we get a concise picture of the anti-Americanism that has been so skillfuly packaged by the intellectual left - and sold by the MSM - as an anti-"war" movement.

Even from its beginnings in the 60s it was clear that it wasn't anti-war at all (if common sense was allowed to include armed struggles in the arts of war). Its major effort was to oppose US military actions which impeded the imposition of communist regimes on unwitting or insufficiently armed populations, but its goal was always an overt demonization of the USA itself. All those flyers we saw in Berkeley, so righteously opposing the trumped-up sins against 'the people' by Amerikkka.

Sure enough, someone put their finger on it when they declared that political correctness was simply the struggle continued by other means, and it shows no sign of abating.

Well, the first thing to do is to identify the enemy, and those professional transformers of pride into shame will do very well for a start.

3/02/2008 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

A flash presentation asks an existential question: is what a soldier does for his country worth anything?
/////////////
The grievous thing for conservative republicans is that the country American soldiers are currently fighting for will not look anything like what it will be in a matter of decades. The real question in this election cycle was decided in the republican primaries. That question was whether the US would proceed with the NAU or call a halt to the enterprise. The answer was that the NAU enterprise will proceed. Its an unbelievably bad deal for the the USA in particular and the english speaking world in general. I don't think Mexican nationalists are too happy about it either. Nor would they be happier if they understood the details better.

The deep question now is how fast will the USA be sold out to the internationalists. The democrats would do it quickly. McCain has promised American conservatives that he would be sure that the loss of American sovereignty would come more slowly and tortuously.

3/02/2008 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Kagan's article reminds of the adage "amateurs talk strategy, professionals discuss logistics."


But what if the strategy is wrong?


"..the U.S. is currently sending half a trillion dollars out of the country each year to buy oil, in some cases from people who "are our enemies."

Said Pickens, "You take 10 years and you've got $5 trillion ... That's more than $1 billion a day.

"We can't stand that. Wealth is moving out of the country.."

3/02/2008 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Gramscian Damage by Eric Raymond, February 11th, 2006 is well worth reading in light of Wretchard's excellent tessay.

3/02/2008 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Fat Man said:

"Gramscian Damage by Eric Raymond, February 11th, 2006 is well worth reading.."

I believe Gramscian Damage is a good explanation for what drives most of the left wing's psychology.

The United State's decades long struggle against the Soviet Union was analogous to wrestling with a poisonous snake. With the Cold War's end, the United States broke the snake's neck but not before the snake bit the US several times. It remains to be determined whether we are strong enough to survive the effects of the snake's poison.

3/02/2008 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Says Boone Pickens regarding oil purchases: "You take 10 years and you've got $5 trillion ... That's more than $1 billion a day.

"We can't stand that. Wealth is moving out of the country.."


If all we were buying were pet rocks, or pyramids to keep our razor blades sharp, that might be true. But we're buying a raw ingredient of commerce, to which we add immensely more value as it works through our economy. If we did not profit by it, we wouldn't buy it, and Pickens's $5 trillion is small potatoes compared to the value we extract from its use.

Wealth would only be leaving the country if we did not profit by oil imports, yet kept them coming.

3/03/2008 01:58:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"Wealth would only be leaving the country if we did not profit by oil imports, yet kept them coming."

No, you do NOT profit from oil imports. You can argue that oil imports are a cost of doing business -- an ever increasing and frivolous cost of doing business. For wealth creation, you want to minimize your costs rather than keep 'em coming, otherwise you go out of business. Where did you get your MBA?

3/03/2008 04:58:00 AM  
Blogger PineKnot said...

As long as the U.S. refuses to utilize its own oil resources, the world will remain hostage to the OPEC cartel.

Hopefully, the citizens of the U.S. will wake up to the evil of the left in this country, who constantly insist "my country, always wrong", with ever fetid breath.

3/03/2008 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Ventor at the TED conference in Monterey CA,.

"We think we will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock."

3/03/2008 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger herb said...

I have run across several essays and articles on blogs and websites that I have accumulated in my bookmarks. They all address this set of conditions that beset western civilization:

(you’ll have to google them up since I am incapable of generating html links. I think its organic.)

Bawer “The Peace Racket” City Journal

Kagan “On Forgetting the Obvious” The American Interest

Radcliffe “The Crisis of Truth Telling in Our Society” Westminster Abbey Symes Lecture

Koch “Lying for the truth: Münzenberg & the Comintern” The New Criterion

Boddisey “Multiculturalism and the Enlightenment” Gates of Vienna

The list goes on and on and includes 3 or 4 more on Mr Gramisci.

All of these articles point to the origin of this set of attitudes being on the left and as a conscious effort of the Soviets to undercut the West. Marx and Lenin were likely the greatest disaster ever to befall humanity.

The Devil’s greatest triumph is to convince mankind that he doesn’t exist.

3/03/2008 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Soldier's Dad said...

"The real strategic objective of the antiwar protest movement has been entirely mental from its modern inception forty years ago."

You are a bit off on your timeline Wretchard. The US achieved World "dominance" somewhere around WWI. Hitler gambled on the strength of the US anti-war/Isolationist movement in '36 and lost. There was tha Japanese General in '42 quoted as saying "I fear we have awoken a great sleeping giant".

The only way to win a conflict with the US is to convince the US that it isn't worth the effort. That is the reality that the rest of the world has known as a fact for as least 80 years.

Since the only way to win against the US is to infect it with self doubt..then one really has to question what various Foreign Intelligience Agencies have been up to for 80 years.

We know that they infiltrated the CIA as great effort and expense. But to what strategic objective...learn a few secrets about satelite capability?

Would it not be a better strategy to infect the US media? It's not like the NY Times conducts deep background checks. What is the risk? Can one be imprisoned for buying a reporter a drink? Whats the cost of having ones UN diplomats throw posh parties on the Upper West Side and inviting all the relevant journalists...its not even illegal. Even if one is throwing in free drugs and hookers..infecting the US media costs a tiny fraction of running a single deep plant at the CIA.

3/03/2008 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Mətušélaḥ said:

"No, you do NOT profit from oil imports. You can argue that oil imports are a cost of doing business -- an ever increasing and frivolous cost of doing business."

I've read more than one study indicating that the standard of living scales with energy consumption, i.e. the more petroleum people burn, the better off they are. Implicit in this observation is that energy is being used efficently and purchased at a reasonable price. I have read some speculation that the Global Warming debate actually hides a hidden agenda of bringing down the free market economic system. The argument follows that if cheap energy is withdrawn because it produces carbon dioxide then the free market system must collapse along with the standard of living. With the collapse of the free market, socialism would have its second chance to take over the world (I don't believe this).

What obscures this sort of discussion is that energy is getting more expensive on its own. Much of the world's cheap energy sources have already been consumed. The really big remaining oil fields are located in hostile countries, e.g. the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia, Siberian petroleum, Venezuela, etc. The United States still has plenty of petroleum in the ground. Unfortunatly the energy required to extract most of this native petroleum is greater than the petroleum's intrinsic energy content. This is the basic "Peak Oil" argument, i.e. oil will remain in the ground if the energy required to extract it is greater than the energy contained in the oil.

My belief is that we will continue to import expensive oil in a desperate attempt to maintain our standard of living. We will import this oil on credit if necessary. However, after our credit rating goes to zero, our oil imports will diminish and our standard of living will collapse.

The only escape that I see from this dreary outcome is rapid conversion from foreign petroleum to domestic nuclear energy along with synthetic petroleum made from domestic coal.

3/03/2008 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"However, after our credit rating goes to zero, our oil imports will diminish and our standard of living will collapse."


It doesn't have to be that way. Not if we invest in solar and offshore wind plants. To my mind, it's a much more sensible proposition than investing half a trillion dollars in Iraq, and counting.

3/03/2008 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"The only escape that I see from this dreary outcome is rapid conversion from foreign petroleum to domestic nuclear energy along with synthetic petroleum made from domestic coal."

Not me. I see the answer being a combination of four factors.

1) Most importantly, improvements forthcoming in methods of storing energy. Most especially, a battery that can power a car for a single-charge energy output similar to what a tank of gas will produce. These things are being feverishly worked on as I type this by the car companies, and some really interesting new products are slated to come out in the next 2-3 years.

2) I've read a LOT lately about improved solar cells. Those things are going to be ubiquitous in 5-10 years tops. Rooftop solar-cell outfits are just now reaching the point where it would make economic sense for me to get one, and I plan to soon. Electric rates are not going down where I live. I ran the numbers, and I'd need my full rooftop plus an extra panel of about 10X20 ft next to my house to cover our full current electric needs. At some point I'd like to add a second extra panel of maybe 10x10 dedicated to recharging the electric/plug-in hybrid vehicles I plan on getting. In combination with #1, this source alone is all my family would need for energy.

3) The university in a nearby town has a very large wind turbine. It doesn't take a lot of wind to turn it, it seems to be turning every time I ever go by, and the paper says it covers about 1/3 of the electric needs for the whole university. All that's needed is #1 in my list, and you have a very useful power source, particularly for industry and for large cities where space can't be spared downtown for solar panels.

4) From all I've seen of biofuels, they're pretty much garbage with a not-so-bright future as far as being an energy SOURCE...but they're pretty decent as a form of energy STORAGE, and they're usable as vehicle fuel. Almost as good as gasoline as a fallback for when you're out of electric charge.

There isn't a magic bullet for replacing oil imports, I don't think, but the above combination will do very nicely for a lot of people, and as more and more people like me adopt these solutions, there will be less demand for oil and prices will collapse for the remainder.

Saudi Arabia won't have us over a barrel (pun intended) for very much longer. I'd be surprised if oil was still anywhere near $100/barrel 10 years from now. OPEC will be in the rearview mirror by then, most likely.

3/03/2008 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Life would be so much more simple if you could simply trash the motives (and the arguments) of all those who opposed (or have soured on)the Iraq War. But our side should realize our current hopes here rest less on the wisdom of America's current Commander in Chief than on the Cunning of History. If the Dems hadn't kicked ass in the fall of 06, we probably wouldn't have had the Surge. Remember, Rummy and the generals wanted (most of all) a way OUT. They weren't hot to dig in and win. IF the Repubs hadn't lost, isn't it likely America would have failed upward until things really were utterly hopeless...

I remember reading posts from a medic who volunteered for a second tour of duty in Iraq in 06. He believed in supporting "my marines" and also believed SOMETHING had to be done about Saddam/Iraq even after he realized (like most Americans) the WMD caes had been overblown...I recall his dispatches about "checking the boxes" on bullshit reports meant to monitor the progrss of the handover of authority to Iraqi troops. Pre-surge - seems like lot of that progress was something of a joke. I'm anything but a military expert (which is one of the reasons why I like to learn by reading this blog). Never been big on folks who pretend they KNOW best how a war should have been waged. Figure one thing we really know is that it's one mistake after another (until you win...) But the RECORD of the Admin's handling of Iraq Reconstruction, in particular, is appalling by any standards. (And certainly by anyone who considers themselves a "fiscal" conservative.) I'll defend the war and Bush against creeps on the left. But it sure would help if ya'll would acknowledge just HOW many times the Admin screwed this thing up... Here's a few passages from a 2005 piece that underscore the failings of both the left and right when it comes to the War on Terror...BTW -I've spent MUCH more time busting anti-warriors on this score...But fair is fair...

Clarity about the mindless Left’s THEM vs. U.S. bias doesn’t mean you excuse the Administration’s multiple failures of imagination and candor. Dick Cheney’s recent happy talk (on Larry King Live) forecasting the “last throes” of the insurgency is more likely to kill the American people's will to struggle in Iraq than doom-mongering on the Left. Dick and Co. and friends of Vic [Navasky of THE NATION MAG] all live the surreal life.

Back from the frontlines in Afghanistan and Iraq, Austin Bay reported (in The Weekly Standard) U.S. soldiers in the field wonder at the vice president’s beamishness (just as they're mystified by Nation-style negativism). “What in the hell is going on back there?” asked a Navy officer. Bay rightly criticizes the Administration for refusing to confront Americans with the case for a long hard slog, pointing out Bush “failed to tap the great reservoir of political willingness 9/11 generated…Administration officials did preach a bit, but the sermon was too cheery.” Bay followed up his Standard piece at his blog by printing a Marine’s comment on the inadequacies of the Bush Administration’s political arguments for the war in Iraq: “[We’re] watching the most important symphonic performance of human history without a conductor and no program.”

Not quite - but think on this -Wouldn't Mr. Obama have a much better shot a conducting an international campaign to resist the Janjahweed than McCain? (As you probably know, both of them have been outfront on that issue...)

3/03/2008 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Stan said...

Re: Obama v. McCain and Sudan...

Obama and his fellow dems have set the bar SO high for serious military intervention that any threat will just not be credible. The malefactors in Sudan will "run the clock out" via talks (Obama et al are all about talks as the goal - not positive results) and the horror will continue.

McCain OTH has a resolution about him that IS credible so he would be more likely to obtain positive results.

3/03/2008 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Stan - You're right Mac's line on Pseudan has been great! - But I think (as I often do) they are more, ah, commonalities here...and I do think O might have an easier time getting some bipartisan (and international) action here...But maybe I'm dreaming...

3/03/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Mətušélaḥ said:

"...Not if we invest in solar and offshore wind plants. To my mind, it's a much more sensible proposition than investing half a trillion dollars in Iraq, and counting."

National security and access to petroleum are currently interconnected.

I'm skeptical about wind and solar energy. There are hidden costs with energy storage, distribution and maintenance. There are wind farms near where I live. Most of the time when I drive by, those turbines are NOT spinning because the wind is not blowing (very unimpressive). I strongly suspect those turbines would not exist if the state was not subsidizing them.

As I mentioned before, I think nukes and coal are the short term solutions. Nuclear energy if properly implimented could last for over a century at current energy consumption rates. However I don't know what we'll do after the coal runs out (probably go down the toilet). We need the coal mainly to provide a feed stock for liquid forms of energy, i.e. synthetic petroleum. Nuclear energy can really only provide electricity (nuclear energy could be used in converting coal into synthetic petroleum). For transportation systems the energy needs to be in some form that has a very high energy density (batteries alone won't do the trick). We should have been converting over to nukes=and-coal over thirty years ago. Our current dilemma with energy depletion is almost entirely self inflicted.

3/03/2008 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Dan said:

"2) I've read a LOT lately about improved solar cells. Those things are going to be ubiquitous in 5-10 years tops."

You may find that solar voltaic panels on the roof becomes a "heads I win, tails you lose proposition". Solar volatics on the roof only pay off if you can run your electricity meter backwards and most of your applicances/heating are electrical. California currently requires the power companies to provide a credit if one runs the meters backwards. However the power companies are not obligated to pay out cash for energy put back into the system. If one produces more energy than they consume then they're subsidizing a multi-billion dollar electric utility (Why can't you get money for energy put back into the system?). This current (unsatisfactory) situation exists at the whim of the California state government. If California suddenly opts to remove the requirement for the power company to provide credit for electricity then the economics for solar voltaics goes "poof".

I'll install of set of solar volatics on the roof of my house when it makes economic sense --AND-- when I'm NOT required to trust the state government to not stab me in the back.

3/03/2008 11:46:00 PM  

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